Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Prix de beauté - A round up of reviews

Prix de beauté was officially released in France on this day in 1930. The film was shot as a silent, and then adapted for sound. The sound version is available on DVD. On rare occasions, the silent version is screened, as it was in New Zealand earlier this month.

The film stars Louise Brooks as Lucienne, Georges Charlia as André, H. Bandini as Antonin, and Jean Bradin as Prince de Grabovsky. The film was based on the screenplay by Augusto Genina, René Clair, Bernard Zimmer, and Alessandro de Stefani from an original story idea by René Clair (and G.W. Pabst). The film was directed by Augusto Genina and released by SOFAR Film (La Societe des Films Artistiques).Notably, Louise Brooks' costume design was by Jean Patou.

Prix de beauté was very popular in France, where it was made,and it was screened all around Europe. The Louise Brooks Society archive contains reviews and advertisements from Germany, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Iceland, and The Netherlands. The film wasn't shown in the United States until the late 1950s. Here are a few multinational reviews from the LBS archive.

anonymous. Le Journal des Débats Politiques et Littéraires, March 30, 1929. 
 --- "René Clair, le brillant réalisateur de Chapeau de paille d'Italie, travaille actuellement au découpage de son nouveau: Prix de Beauté, qu'il va tourner pour la Sofar. Il compte prendre les premières prises de vues au début d'avril. On sait que la vedette féminine de cette production sera Louise Brooks, l'étonnant interprète de A girl in every port."

anonymous. "Miss Europa." Corriere della Sera, April 13, 1930. 
 --- "II film è pregevole specialmente nelle parti descrittive più adatte alle particolari qualità dello stile geniniano: le scene del concorso di bellezza, la fiera, certe notazioni d’ambiente e d’officina, sentono tutto il suo tipico realismo spontaneo e pulito. . . . Bisogna menzionare Ia trovata finale, esempio di ingegnosa applicazione dci metodi sonori."

anonymous. "Prix de Beauté." Le Figaro, May 18, 1930.
 --- " . . . Une très jolie femme - Louise Brooks - et une tr&ès jolie idée: l'artiste qu'une balle de revolver abat landis qu'elle chante sur l'écran, et vit, et sóurit, et que, truvée, sanglante, morte, continue, à trois mètres de là, sur l'écran, à chanter, à sourire, à vivre"

Vincent, Carl. "Prix de beauté." L’Indépendance Belge, June 13, 1930.
--- article; "C’est Louise Brooks qui interprète le rôle de Lucienne. Elle le fait avec intelligence et le talent dont elle a fait preuve à travers plus d’un film américain et plus récemment dans deux oeuvres de Pabst: Loulou et Trois pages d’un journal."

Gilbert, Morris. "Paris Cinema Chatter." New York Times, June 15, 1930. 
 --- Brooks is mentioned as appearing in Prix de Beauté in article in New York City newspaper  

H., H. "Miss Europa." Lichtbild-Bühne, August 12, 1930.
--- "Louise Brooks' Spiel ist erfüllt von Anmut und Innerlichkeit . . . . Eine Meisterleistung der Regiekunst."

n. "Miss Europa." Film Kurier, August 12, 1930.
--- "Und Louise Brooks, die bei jeder Geste auf den Regisseur angewiesen bleibt, vermag ihn gerade in diesen Momenten nicht zu unterstützen."

Magnus. Variety, September 3, 1930. 
 --- "The acting is very good. Louise Brooks looks charming and she knows how to move."

anonymous. "Premio de Belleza." Popular Film, July 16, 1931. 
 --- illustrated feature; "Dos escenas de Premio de belleza, el film ablado en francés con fragmentos y canciones en español, del programa Gaumont, estrenado con buen éxito en el elegante cinema Fantasio. Los principales intérpretes de Premio de belleza, son la gentil y bonita Louise Brooks y el excente galán George Charlia. La realización es de Augusto Genina".

Palma, A. "Prix de Beauté." La Rivista Cinématografica, March 30, 1932. 
 --- "Augusto Genina . . . da valoroso artista quale egli è, ha saputo intessere una appassionante trama per lo schermo dallo spunto offerto dall'annuale concorso di bellezza muliebre, e prescegliendo a protagonista Louise Brooks, la quale oltre a campione di bellezza si è dimostrata anche una valida interprete cinematografica . . . Ottima la recitazione della Brooks"

Kennedy, James. "National Film Theater Anthology." Guardian, July 24, 1964. 
--- "Augusto Genina's Prix de Beaute (1930), remarkable for the performance of Louise Brooks."

Lundegaard, Bob. "Prix de Beauté offers quintessential Brooks." Minneapolis Tribune, October 21, 1983.
--- "But we don't go to a Brooks film for plausible character studies. We go to see la Brooks, and for that purpose Prix de Beaute doesn't dissapoint."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Prix de beauté - early American newspaper reference

This newspaper clipping, from September 13, 1929 may represent one of the earliest, if not the earliest, American newspaper reference to Prix de beauté, the 1930 film starring Louise Brooks. This article references the film as it was being shot in 1929 (the film was in production from August 29 to September 27), but before it was released almost a year later, on August 20, 1930. It also claims that Prix de beauté was the first French talkie. Had it's release not been delayed, it could have been the first or second.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Seeking expert in French Musette

I wonder if an expert in early French popular music could offer any clues as to the name of the small orchestra playing a Tango in this scene from Prix de beauté (1930).

Please email the Louise Brooks Society directly (at LouiseBrooksSociety AT gmail DOT com) or post something in the comments section. I hope to include this song on RadioLulu at Thank you.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Prix de Beauté burlesque performer - Homage to Louise Brooks

Prix de Beauté is a Los Angeles-based burlesque performer and producer who takes her name from the 1930 French film, Prix de beauté, starring Louise Brooks. She performs solo and in groups, and specializes in dances of the Jazz Age, as well as numbers inspired by different themes. As this performer's website states, she takes her inspiration and her look from Louise Brooks.

One of Prix de Beauté's acts is called "My Canary has Circles Under his Eyes," based on the song of the same title by Janet Klein. The concept revolves around classic feather fan dance in tribute to the Louise Brooks’ movie Canary Murder Case.

Prix de Beauté also appears in Chromataphore (embedded below), a Louise Brooks / Busby Berkeley inspired music video by Princess Pangolin. Check out Prix de Beauté's website for more burlesque fun.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Show-Off - a round-up of reviews

The Show-Off, Louise Brooks' fifth film, was officially released on this day in 1926. The film is a comedy-drama about an insufferable braggart who disrupts the lives of a middle-class family. We all know the type, don't we?

The film stars Ford Sterling as Audrey Piper (the braggart), Lois Wilson as Amy Fisher Piper, Louise Brooks as Clara-Joe's Girl, Gregory Kelly as Joe Fisher, Claire McDowell as Mom Fisher, and C.W. Goodrich as Pop Fisher. The film, adapted from the stage play by George Kelly, was directed by Malcolm St. Clair. The screenplay is by Pierre Collings.

The film is very good, and is one of Brooks' best roles in a light drama. The Show-Off received many positive notices - as well as negative reviews, as did Brooks, whose part was somewhat limited. Here is a round up of magazine and newspaper reviews and articles drawn from the Louise Brooks Society archive.

Tinee, Mae. "Ford Sterling Almost a Perfect Bumptious, Bombastic Show Off." Chicago Tribune, July 7, 1926.
--- " . . . splendidly cast and acted."

Reel, Rob. "You'll Remember and Like Ford Sterling as Show Off." Chicago Evening American, July 27, 1926.
--- " . . . is well done, and a lot of fun. You ought to like it."

anonymous. "A Hit on the Stage; as Good on the Screen." Chicago Evening Post, July 30, 1926.
--- "Louise Brooks and George Kelly also handle their parts most effectively."

anonymous. "Two New Films Hold Fans Interest." Los Angeles Evening Herald, August 7, 1926.
--- "The cast includes Louise Brooks, who does a bit of excellent acting."

Harrison, P. S. "The Show Off - with Ford Sterling, Lois Wilson, Louise Brooks and Gregory Kelly." Harrison's Reports, August 7, 1926.
--- "Louise Brooks makes a good sweetheart of the heroine's brother; in the scenes where she is shown upbraiding the hero for having brought misery upon the heroine's family, she is very good."

Moulton, Herbert. "Sterling Shines in Show-Off." Los Angeles Times, August 7, 1926.
--- "The sweetheart of the brother is played by Louise Brooks, who does well in a negligible role."

anonymous. "The Show-Off at Metropolitan." Boston Herald, August 10, 1926.
--- "Louise Brooks is the Clara. The movie people decided that the unhappily married sister of the play was not suited to Louise, so the movie Clara turns up as a next-door neighbor, Joe's girl friend. Miss Brooks has little to do but wear form-revealing gowns and ever so often uteer a 'wise crack,' for all titles of this nature are put right in her mouth."

anonymous. "The Show-Off Less Interesting as Photoplay Than on Stage." New York Post, August 23, 1926.
--- "Louise Brooks as Clara has very little to do, but she made a charming picture."

Cohen Jr., John S. "Picture Plays and Players." New York Sun, August 23, 1926.
--- "Directed by Malcolm St. Clair, the film boasts of exceptional naturalistic acting on the part of Ford Sterling, Lois Wilson, Claire McDowell, C. W. Goodrich, Gregory Kelly and - in one sequence - Louise Brooks. . . . Miss Brooks is best in the scene where she burlesques the pantomime employed by Mr. Sterling to describe his automobile experience."

Hall, Mordaunt. "The Braggart." New York Times, August 23, 1926.
--- "Louise Brooks, an emphatic type, with her dark hair and eyes and straight eyebrows, is bound to be noticed. Her histrionic efforts in this picture, however, are negligible."

Herzog, Dorothy. "The Show Off." Daily Mirror, August 23, 1926.
--- "Louise Brooks spitfires, prisses, oogles and calls it a day of heavy emoting. Miss Brooks is a distinct type, but she seems to suffer from inefficient direction and miscasting. She also appears a trifle rounded, for and aft, in this opera, but this may be due to her skin-tight dresses."

anonymous. "Show-Off at California." San Francisco Bulletin, August 30, 1926.
--- " . . . one of the best comedies of the American screen."

Swint, Curran D. "The Show Off at California." San Francisco News, August 30, 1926.
--- "A romance has been developed between Joe Fisher, the inventor son, given a distinctive performance by Gregory Kelly, and girl next door, fetchingly portrayed by Louise Brooks."

Aston, Frank. "Comedy of Home Seen in Show-Off." Cincinnati Post, September 6, 1926.
--- "And henceforth and forever when we think of The Show-Off we shall picture Louise Brooks and her display of hosiery."

Sargent, Epes W. "Ford Sterling Scores Heavily in Stage Success That Makes Thoroughly Enjoyable Audience Film." Moving Picture World, September 11, 1926.
--- "Louise Brooks, Gregory Kelly and C.W. Goodrich form the remaining members of the essential cast."

Sherwood, Robert E. "The Silent Drama." Life, September 16, 1926.
--- "He has taken a simple play of average American life and made a genuinely tender, touching, sympathetic picture of it. . . . a worthy reproduction of a great comedy."

O., H. H. "Stage and Screen." Ann Arbor Times News, September 28, 1926.
--- "Louise Brooks as Clara, her sister, almost runs away with the picture."

anonymous. "Stage and Screen." Kalamazoo Gazette, November 8, 1926.
--- "The Show Off has caught the fancy of the town."

Lusk, Norbert. "The Screen in Review: We All Know Him." Picture-Play, December, 1926.
-- "Lois Wilson tossed aside opportunities for shrewd characterization by wearing Paris frocks as a daughter of the Philadelphia poor. Louise Brooks, another little sister of poverty, likewise offended."
O., H. H. "Stage and Screen." Ann Arbor Times News, September 28, 1926.
--- "Louise Brooks as Clara, her sister, almost runs away with the picture."

anonymous. "Stage and Screen." Kalamazoo Gazette, November 8, 1926.
--- "The Show Off has caught the fancy of the town."

Lusk, Norbert. "The Screen in Review: We All Know Him." Picture-Play, December, 1926.
-- "Lois Wilson tossed aside opportunities for shrewd characterization by wearing Paris frocks as a daughter of the Philadelphia poor. Louise Brooks, another little sister of poverty, likewise offended."

Sherwood, Robert. "The Film of the Month." McCall's, December, 1926.
--- named a recommended film

Lane, Tamar. "Best Pictures and Performances of 1926." Film Mercury, December 10, 1926.
--- named one of the best eight films of the year in film trade journal

Friday, August 15, 2014


(Homenagem a Antonio Carlos Jobim e Louise Brooks).
Créditos no final do clip. Acervo: Rádio Educativa Mensagem (REM).

Thursday, August 14, 2014