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PBS's feature film The Chaperone recently aired. It concerns the time Louise Brooks spent taking classes with the Denishawn School of Dancing in New York. Robert Fairchild (NYCB) portrays Ted Shawn. There's bits and pieces of modern dance depicted in a few of the scenes though I can't say if the choreography is true to the Denishawn Company.

"Louise Brooks, the 1920s silver screen sensation who never met a rule she didn’t break, epitomized the restless, reckless spirit of the Jazz Age. But, just a few years earlier, she was a 15 year-old student in Wichita, Kansas for whom fame and fortune were only dreams. When the opportunity arises for her to go to New York to study with a leading dance troupe, her mother (Victoria Hill) insists there be a chaperone. Norma Carlisle (Elizabeth McGovern, Downton Abbey), a local society matron who never broke a rule in her life, impulsively volunteers to accompany Louise (Haley Lu Richardson) to New York for the summer."

http:// https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/shows/the-chaperone/

[The Chaperone premiered on PBS stations nationwide on Sunday, November 24, and airs again Thursday, November 28 at 9PM.]

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It looks like you can watch it on the PBS website, at least for now.  (I am still trying to figure out what their Passport category does...)

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It was actually Colleen Moore and Clara Bow who epitomized the reckless, restless spirit of the Jazz Age, but let it pass.

Thanks, pherank, I'm now curious about it. I saw the title while channel-flipping, but something named "The Chaperone" on PBS did not sound promising.

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17 hours ago, sandik said:

It looks like you can watch it on the PBS website, at least for now.  (I am still trying to figure out what their Passport category does...)

I think Passport simply gives subscribers access to the video archive. Plain ole folk can watch a few recent offerings online at the PBS site, but they don't have access to the archive of older shows. I can't tell you how extensive the Passport archive is though.

23 minutes ago, dirac said:

It was actually Colleen Moore and Clara Bow who epitomized the reckless, restless spirit of the Jazz Age, but let it pass.

Thanks, pherank, I'm now curious about it. I saw the title while channel-flipping, but something named "The Chaperone" on PBS did not sound promising.

I'd probably pick Zelda Fitzgerald as well, as a quintessential Jazz Age flapper. But Brooks was definitely seen as the epitome of a "modern" girl (and all the troubling things that represented, I suppose). She stands out in her few films, partly because she was surrounded by European stage actors whose movements and dramatic presence feel very different from her own. The other actors are all period artifice and Brooks is simply herself.

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I meant that Brooks was not a star at the time and she wasn't the embodiment of the era in the way that the stars of the time were, although she was on her way up and had made an impact before decamping for Europe.  Now, of course, even Bow is hardly remembered and Moore's name is known only to buffs.

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On 11/27/2019 at 5:06 PM, pherank said:

I think Passport simply gives subscribers access to the video archive. Plain ole folk can watch a few recent offerings online at the PBS site, but they don't have access to the archive of older shows. I can't tell you how extensive the Passport archive is though.

I'd probably pick Zelda Fitzgerald as well, as a quintessential Jazz Age flapper. But Brooks was definitely seen as the epitome of a "modern" girl (and all the troubling things that represented, I suppose). She stands out in her few films, partly because she was surrounded by European stage actors whose movements and dramatic presence feel very different from her own. The other actors are all period artifice and Brooks is simply herself.

Thanks for the clarification -- I'm still trying to figure out Passport.

Brooks has a special resonance for many folks, especially after her memoir in the early 80s

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She's better known today mainly because she made an unforgettable impact in one classic film, and the film survived to be revived and celebrated, along with her. She was a wonderful talker and marvelous interview when she was in the mood, which also helped because she became a go-to person for people like the great silent film historian Kevin Brownlow.  But she wasn't a premier flapper star of the time, although she was well known enough to help popularize the style of bob now identified mainly with her.

Her self-celebration - which is what it was - in her own memoir certainly helped. I can't begrudge her its success when you consider the depths to which she had sunk in the interim since the end of her film career, but as movie history it wasn't much to speak of and I found its tone annoying. (Veronica Geng, from memory: "My integrity, like my beauty, came so naturally that I was mystified by the attention it drew whenever I happened to mention it."

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The other actors are all period artifice and Brooks is simply herself.

She also makes an impact in Hollywood pictures like "The Canary Murder Case," and it is a real shame that she self-destructed. 

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16 hours ago, dirac said:

She also makes an impact in Hollywood pictures like "The Canary Murder Case," and it is a real shame that she self-destructed. 

Brooks considered herself to be a failure in everything she tried, which is ironic, given that her successes came relatively easily to her. What was lacking, it seems to me,  was any kind of real work ethic, and a lack of worthwhile goals and ambitions. It's worth mentioning that Brooks lived in a Man's World, and was subject to all those rules and exclusions. It's not really surprising that she didn't like how she was treated by the cinema world. But Brooks was no Bette Davies or Joan Crawford - she wasn't interested in "clawing her way to the top" or just fashioning a basic career. She had no point to make.

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I thought The Chaperone was one of the worst things I've ever seen on PBS.  There is no drama!  Yes, we see Robbie Fairchild as Ted Shawn teaching class with Ruth St Denis, and there are some brief dance sequences.  The character of Louise is fairly well drawn, but the chaperone Norma is at least a co-protagonist. I can't figure out who the writer thinks the audience for this work would be.  So many topical ideas are stuffed in there that  seem perfunctory. The ending is particularly ridiculous. 

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