Saturday, January 8, 2011

Silent Film: Pandora's Box(1929).

Pandora's Box (1929). German silent melodrama film based loosely on Frank Wedekind's plays Erdgeist Earth Spirit (1895) and Die Büchse der Pandora (1904). Directed by Austrian filmmaker Georg Wilhelm Pabst. Cast: Louise Brooks, Fritz Kortner, and Francis Lederer. Story of a young woman's uninhibited nature bring ruin to herself and those around her.

Pabst searched for months for an actress to play Lulu. When seeing Brooks as a circus performer in the Howard Hawks' film, A Girl in Every Port(1928), director G.W. Pabst tried to get her on loan from Paramount Pictures.  Pabst's second choice was Marlene Dietrich.

Louise Brooks (November 14, 1906 – August 8, 1985), was a dancer, model, showgirl and silent film actress. Brooks is best known for her films: Pandora's Box (1929), Diary of a Lost Girl (1929), and Prix de Beauté (Miss Europe) (1930). She starred in 17 silent films.

Brooks made her screen debut in the silent film, The Street of Forgotten Men, in an uncredited role in 1925. Soon, after that she was playing the female lead in a number of silent light comedies and flapper films.

She was noticed for her vamp role in the Howard Hawks directed silent "buddy film", A Girl in Every Port (1928).

It has been said that her best American role was in one of the early sound film dramas, Beggars of Life (1928), as a country girl on the run with Richard Arlen and Wallace Beery playing hoboes she meets while riding the rails. Much of this film was shot on location, and the boom microphone was invented for this film by the director, William Wellman.

No longer happy in Hollywood she moved to Germany,  where she starred in the film, Pandora's Box(1929). Brooks then starred in the controversial drama, Diary of a Lost Girl (1929), based on the book by Margarete Böhme and also directed by Pabst, and Prix de Beauté (1930), the latter having a famous surprise ending.

When she returned to Hollywood in 1931, she was cast in : God's Gift to Women (1931) and It Pays to Advertise (1931).  For the rest of her movie career, she performed in bit parts and roles in B pictures and short films.

Brooks retired from the screen after performing in the film, a John Wayne western, Overland Stage Raiders (1938) in which she played the romantic lead. She then briefly returned to Wichita, where she was raised. "But that turned out to be another kind of hell," she said. "The citizens of Wichita either resented me having been a success or despised me for being a failure.  After an unsuccessful attempt at operating a dance studio, she returned East and worked as a radio actor, gossip columnist, salesgirl in a Saks Fifth Avenue store in New York City and she also worked as a courtesan.

Brooks is considered one of the first naturalistic actors in film, her acting being subtle compared to many other silent performers. The close-up was just coming into vogue and her beautiful face was perfect for this new technique.

Louise Brooks, film image was an inspiration for Adolfo Bioy Casares when he wrote his science fiction novel, The Invention of Morel (1940).

Brooks inspired two separate comics:  Dixie Dugan newspaper strip by John H. Striebel that started in the late 1920s and ran until 1966, which came from a novel and later stage musical, "Show Girl", that writer J.P. McEvoy had loosely based on Louise's days as a Follies girl on Broadway and the comic books of Valentina, by the late Guido Crepax, which began publication in 1965 and continued for many years. Crepax became a friend and regular correspondent with Louise late in her life. Hugo Pratt, another comics artist, also used her as inspiration for characters, and even named them after her.

In an interview with James Lipton on, Inside the Actors Studio, Liza Minnelli shared how she prepared for performing her roll as Sally Bowles in the film Cabaret: "I went to my father, and asked him, what can you tell me about thirties glamour? Should I be emulating Marlene Dietrich or something? And he said no, I should study everything I can about Louise Brooks."

1 comment:

  1. I can't wait to see this film. I have never seen it before.


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