Monday, July 27, 2015

The era's attitudes toward bobbed hair

This UK editorial cartoon from 1926 reflects the era's attitudes toward bobbed hair.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Wurlitza plays live soundtrack to Louise Brooks' film Diary of a Lost Girl

Wurlitza, a five piece band from South East Cornwall in England who have been specializing in adding live soundtracks to silent films since 2006, will be playing their live soundtrack to the Louise Brooks' film Diary of a Lost Girl in Yelverton Village Hall, Devon, England on Sunday, July 26th.

The group will also be performing their live soundtrack on other dates later in the year including Thursday, July 30th at the Port Eliot Festival and possibly on Friday, November 6th  at the Newnham on Severn Film Club. More about the band and their music can be found on their website at

From the Wurlitza website: "Two years in the making is Wurlitza’s soundtrack for GW Pabst’s 1929 movie Diary of a Lost Girl. Fast moving and at times shocking, Diary of a Lost Girl traces the story of Thymian, played by the mesmerising screen idol Louise Brooks, as her life yoyos between episodes of lightness and innocence, darkness and despair. Moments of great comedy involve life in a reform school for fallen girls headed by a villainous nun, and a modern dance lesson with an incompetent buffoon. This gripping film defies convention, confounding expectations as joy and compassion are found in the most unlikely places. Repertoire for the soundtrack of Diary of a Lost Girl includes music by Jango Reinhardt, Fun Boy Three, Portishead, Wire, Chopin, Leonard Cohen, Madonna and Grace Jones. "

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Lulu, by Alban Berg performed in Oakland, California

West Edge Opera is presenting Alban Berg's opera Lulu in the abandoned 16th Street Train Station in Oakland, California. A very blonde un-Louise Brooks like Emma McNairy takes the role of Lulu. More information HERE.

Lulu, by Alban Berg
The summit of German Expressionism in opera

Lulu, the second and final opera of composer Alban Berg (1885 - 1935),  is considered one of the masterpieces of 20th-century composition. Berg, a pupil of Arnold Schoenberg, adapted the libretto himself from two plays by Frank Wedekind.

The central character Lulu is the embodiment of sex appeal - Lulu is married to three men successively in the opera. They worship her, but her untamed sensuality spells their ruin, with Lulu even killing the third, the wealthy Dr. Schoen. Jailed for this murder, she escapes, but she descends into poverty and ultimately prostitution. She is killed by a client, Jack the Ripper.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Louise Brooks & Frankie Trumbauer - Bye Bye Blues, 1930

Here is a delightful vintage recording by Frankie Trumbauer paired with a contemporary video of images of Louise Brooks. The song is "Bye Bye Blues", from 1930.

I have seen this recording on a newish CD suggesting it is sung by Louise Brooks. It ain't.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Amazing letter from Theodor Adorno to Alban Berg

There is an amazing letter from Theodor Adorno to Alban Berg contained in Correspondence 1925-1935, edited by Henri Lonitz, published by Polity in 2005.

Adorno was a German sociologist, philosopher and musicologist known for his critical theory of society. He was also friends with Alban Berg, an Austrian remembered as one of the most important composers of the 20th century. Most importantly, Berg wrote Lulu (1937), an opera based on Frank Wedekind's Lulu plays. Though unfinished at the time of Berg's death, Lulu is considered one of the great opera's of the 20th century.

Adorno was twenty-one years old when he traveled to Vienna in March 1925 to study musical composition with Berg. And over the years, they would exchange many letters.

The letter I noticed in Correspondence 1925-1935 was sent from Frankfurt, Germany and is dated September 8, 1933. In it Adorno wrote that he had just seen Pandora's Box, the G.W. Pabst film starring Louise Brooks as Lulu.

What is amazing is that Adorno's viewing of Pandora's Box came four years after the silent film's release at the beginning of the sound era, and in Frankfurt am Main - a center of Nazi activity. Pabst was known to be left of center, so its surprising the extreme right, meaning the Nazis, allowed it to be show. And were was it shown? A second run theater, or cine-club of some sort?

I have tried to find an online Frankfurt newspaper archive in order to comb through the newspaper to find a listing for this screening, but have had not luck in finding an available digitized archive. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

1920's American Slang via Show Girl and Dixie Dugan

In celebration of the recent discovery of the 1928 film Show Girl, starring Alice White as the Louise Brooks-inspired character Dixie Dugan, here is a 1928 British newspaper article on American slang which focuses on Dixie Dugan and the Show Girl film.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Coca-Cola and Crackerjacks and Louise Brooks

William Collier Jr. and Louise Brooks enjoy a Coke on the set of Just Another Blonde (1926). Boxes of Crackerjacks can be seen just over her right shoulder.