Wednesday, September 20, 2017

TODAY: Beggars of Life, starring Louise Brooks, shows in Northbrook, Illinois

Beggars of Life, the acclaimed 1928 silent film starring Louise Brooks, will be shown today at the Northbrook Public Library in Northbrook, Ilinois. "An American silent film classic, Beggars of Life stars Louise Brooks as a train-hopping hobo who dresses like a boy to survive."

This screening, part of the Wednesday Classic Film Series, will take place at 7:30 pm in the library auditorium. Dave Drazin will accompany the film on piano. More information may be found HERE.


It's pretty cool that pianist Dave Drazin will accompany the film. This performer is a legend. Here is a little bit about him from his website.

Pianist and composer David Drazin is a music and motion picture archivist who has acquired a national reputation for his piano improvisations accompanying silent films. Among silent movie screenings for which he has performed are Cinevent Film Festival in Columbus, Ohio, the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute in Chicago (staff accompanist since 1985), Pordenone Silent Film Festival, Italy (guest pianist 2003 and 2004), Silent Film Society of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, LaSalle Bank Theatre, North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Cinematheque as well as at many universities, libraries and churches.

He is notable among contemporary film accompanists for his use of the 1920s-era jazz and blues, rather than classic ragtime, in playing for silent comedies. His improvisational ballet and dance accompaniment skills serve him well in developing music for dramas, such as the films in the Fritz Lang film series recently shown at the Art Institute.

Not limited only to music, David has operated cameras and projectors as well as crafting several short films of his own. His archive collection includes 78 rpm records, 8 and 16 millimeter silent and sound films. 

"Seeing a 35mm print of such a restoration well projected is the ideal, of course, especially with an expert pianist like the Cinematheque’s David Drazin providing the accompaniment." -- Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell, University of Wisconsin, Observations on Film Art blog

"A consummate musician with a supernatural talent for film accompaniment." -- Marilyn Ferdinand, author, Chicago film critic, ferdyonfilms.com

"If you've never heard/seen David Drazin accompany a silent film, then you're in for a real treat." -- Arnie Bernstein, author, Hollywood on Lake Michigan

"The accompaniments of David Drazin alone are worth the price of admission!" -- Jonathan Rosenbaum, film critic, writer

"Superb live musical interpretation for silent films." -- Classic Images

"Expertly fills in the sounds of silence." --  Cleveland Plain Dealer

"And should the piano playing of David Drazin be half as good as when he accompanied "City Girl" last month, then this qualifies as another must-see event." -- Detroit Free Press

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Schedule of screenings for Beggars of Life, starring Louise Brooks

The new DCP of Beggars of Life continues to "pick-up steam," with additional screening popping up just about everywhere. Here is a list, with links for time and ticket information, to forthcoming events.


Film Forum -- New York City     September 19, 2017
with live piano accompaniment by Steve Sterner

Northbrook Public Library -- Northbrook, Illinois     September 20, 2017
with live piano accompaniment by Dave Drazin

Cleveland Cinematheque -- Cleveland, Ohio   September 23, 2017
introduced by Jim Tully biographer Paul Bauer 

National Audiovisual Institute, KAVI -- Helsinki, Finland     October 12 and 15, 2017

Brooklyn Public Library  --  Brooklyn, New York     November 12, 2017
with live piano accompaniment by Bernie Anderson. Hosted & Curated by Ken Gordon.


Wisconsin Cinematheque -- Madison, Wisconsin     December 1, 2017

Riverrun International Film Festival  --  Winston-Salem, North Carolina     April, 2018

An American silent film classic, Beggars of Life (1928) stars Louise Brooks as a train-hopping hobo who dresses like a boy to survive. After escaping her violent stepfather, Nancy (Brooks) befriends kindly drifter Jim (Richard Arlen). They ride the rails together until a fateful encounter with the blustery Oklahoma Red (Wallace Beery) and his rambunctious band of hoboes, leading to daring, desperate conflict on top of a moving train. Based on the memoir of real-life hobo Jim Tully, and directed with adventuresome verve by William Wellman (Wings, The Public Enemy, A Star is Born, The Ox-Bow Incident, etc....), Beggars of Life is an essential American original.

See the movie - read the new book about the movie!

This first ever study of Beggars of Life looks at the film Oscar-winning director William Wellman thought his finest silent movie. Based on Jim Tully’s bestselling book of hobo life—and filmed by Wellman the year after he made Wings (the first film to win the Best Picture Oscar), Beggars of Life is a riveting drama about an orphan girl (screen legend Louise Brooks) who kills her abusive stepfather and flees the law. She meets a boy tramp (leading man Richard Arlen), and together they ride the rails through a dangerous hobo underground ruled over by Oklahoma Red (future Oscar winner Wallace Beery). Beggars of Life showcases Brooks in her best American silent—a film the Cleveland Plain Dealer described as “a raw, sometimes bleeding slice of life.” With more than 50 little seen images, and a foreword by William Wellman, Jr.


Listen to Rob Edelman's WAMC radio review of the Beggars of Life HERE!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Louise Brooks series at Film Forum set to begin

Film Forum in New York City (located at 209 West Houston St. west of 6th Ave.) has announced a series of films featuring Louise Brooks. The series is set to take place in September and October. Each film will feature live musical accompaniment by long-time Film Forum silent film composer and pianist Steve Sterner. HERE are the details.

DIARY OF A LOST GIRL
Sunday, September 17 at 3:00 pm
(1929, G.W. Pabst) Louise Brooks is the “lost girl” wronged by circumstances and cast off first into a reformatory, then a Berlin brothel, where she’s spiritually and emotionally liberated. DCP. Approx. 112 min.

BEGGARS OF LIFE
Tuesday, September 19 at 7:00 pm
(1928, William A. Wellman) On the run after killing a molesting stepfather, dressed-as-a-boy Louise Brooks is befriended by Richard Arlen and falls in with Wallace Beery’s band of hoboes. Long-thought-lost silent classic, with Brooks’ best pre-German work and dazzling location work on speeding trains. DCP. Approx. 81 min.

PANDORA’S BOX
Sunday, October 1 at 6:40 pm
(1929, G.W. Pabst) Sex in the City – Berlin, 1928: in the wake of Louise’s patent leather-bobbed Lulu, men set up expensive love nests, ruin themselves gambling, commit brutal murders, and kill themselves; as she moves from kept woman to headlining showgirl, lesbian love interest, widow in mourning, fugitive from the law, and possible sex slave, amid a bustling backdrop of Weimar Germany. 35mm. Approx. 109 min.

DIARY OF A LOST GIRL
Saturday, October 14 at 3:10 pm
(1929, G.W. Pabst) Louise Brooks is the “lost girl” wronged by circumstances and cast off first into a reformatory, then a Berlin brothel, where she’s spiritually and emotionally liberated. DCP. Approx. 112 min.



Friday, September 15, 2017

Help Make Beggars of Life a Success - Here's How to show your Love for Louise Brooks

Want to see more Louise Brooks films released in the future? Here are two ways you can help.

1) Purchase a copy of the new Beggars of Life DVD / Blu-ray from either Kino Lorber or Amazon. Both usually offer a discount. The more copies that sell, the more encouragement companies like Kino Lorber will have to release other Louise Brooks films in the future. Wouldn't you like to see a restoration of Love Em or Leave Em on DVD? How about both the silent and sound versions of The Canary Murder Case? Or the out-of-print The Show-Off? Or Louise Brooks first film, The Street of Forgotten Men? Come on, let's do this!  

Beggars of Life is also available through Barnes and Noble (B&N), Target, Walmart, your local video store, etc.... It ain't hard to find!

2) If you can't afford a new DVD, why not recommend that your local public library purchase a copy. I did, and they put 5 copies of the DVD on order for the library system. Many public libraries have a button or link on their home page where patrons can suggest a new title for purchase. It doesn't hurt to try! And heck, if you know a librarian or visit your local library why not make a suggestion in person. And while you are at it, thank them for the valuable work they do. Libraries are supported by your tax dollars. So why not "spend" your tax dollars on something that will entertain and inspire. It's a great why to share your love of Louise Brooks.

3) And while your at it, why not recommend your local library purchase a copy of my new book, Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film. A few libraries around the country have already purchased it, including the Bates College Library in Lewiston, Maine and the SEO Automation Consortium in Caldwell, Ohio.

I have done my part, and have donated a handful of copies to certain key libraries including those in Jim Tully's hometowns (St. Marys, Ohio and Kent, Ohio ) and Louise Brooks' hometown (Wichita, Kansas), as well as my new hometown, Sacramento, California. I also sent a copy to two places where Brooks used to hang out, the Rochester Public Library and the George Eastman Museum (both in Rochester, New York). I also sent a copy to Hollywood: and I felt like I had been given an Oscar when I received a thank you note in return on official stationary from the library at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Of course, you can always purchase a copy of my book, which is available through amazon.com, B&N.com, or through your local independent bookstore. The book retails for a mere $10.00. Though some wacky New Hampshire booksellers are charging as much as $88.63. Email me directly to order an autographed copy. Every purchase or recommendation counts.

Back in the year 2000, the biography of Louise Brooks by Barry Paris had fallen out of print. The Louise Brooks Society started an on-line petition drive to bring it back. And it succeeded. The University of Minnesota Press reprinted both the Barry Paris biography and Brooks' own Lulu in Hollywood with great success. At one point, the press told me that those two books were among their best sellers. Both remain in print to this day. And both contain an acknowledgement for what were all of our combined efforts! Isn't that cool!


So come on, let's do this! Don't complain you can't see more of Louise Brooks films' (or any silent or pre-code film for that matter) unless you are willing to somehow support those who are making the effort to get them into circulation and into the history books!

Here is something I will always cherish. It is an inscription Barry Paris wrote in my old beat-up copy of his biography of Louise Brooks. The occasion was an event I put on with the author (we are pictured below) at the time the book was republished.




Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Two Film Historians and William Wellman and Their Lifelong Labor of Love

If you ask film historians who are some of America’s greatest directors, they may suggest Orson Welles, Frank Capra, John Ford, Martin Scorsese, or Steven Spielberg. Other might put forth names such as Robert Altman, Howard Hawks, William Wyler, or Francis Ford Coppola. Others still may campaign for George Cukor, Billy Wilder, Stanley Kramer, Quentin Tarantino, or Cecil B. DeMille.

However, if you ask noted film historians Frank Thompson and John Andrew Gallagher who they think is America’s single greatest director, they’ll claim someone else all together, William Wellman.
To prove their point, the two have nearly completed a book they’ve been working on for almost 35 years. It’s significant, and it’s massive. And, it’s a work that can rightly be described as the most thoroughly researched, detailed, and richly illustrated book ever published on any director.

Their book, Nothing Sacred: The Cinema Of William Wellman (Men With Wings Press), is an oversized, 700 page, 12” x 9” volume that includes a remarkable 300,000+ words of text and features some 1000 images (many rare) including stills, posters, lobby cards, and ads.

Arguably, Wellman was responsible for three of the greatest films ever made, Wings (1927 – the first film to win the Oscar for Best Picture), The Public Enemy (1931 – the genre defining gangster film), and A Star Is Born (1937 – the single finest film about Hollywood: besides directing, Wellman also wrote its story).

Ever versatile, Wellman worked across genres beginning in the silent era on through to the late 1950s. He made dramas, war films, crime films, comedies, Westerns and adventure stories while working for Fox, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Columbia, Paramount, Selznick-International and others. Many of his most memorable films were made during the Pre-Code era at Warner Bros., with detours to RKO and M-G-M.

Wellman also directed Beggars of Life (1928 – starring Louise Brooks, and just out on DVD), Night Nurse (1931 – with a riveting Barbara Stanwyck), Nothing Sacred (1937 – the first screwball comedy filmed in color), Beau Geste (1939), Roxie Hart (1942), The Ox-Bow Incident (1943 – an underrated masterpiece), The Story of G.I. Joe (1945), The High and the Mighty (1954) and others. Some of his other under-appreciated movies include The Legion of the Condemned (1928 – now lost), So Big! (1932), Wild Boys of the Road (1933), Lady of Burlesque (1943), Yellow Sky (1948), and Battleground (1949). Each of these films, along with the many others directed by Wellman as well as those in which he had an uncredited hand, are covered in Nothing Sacred: The Cinema of William Wellman.


The writing and production of the book was such a monumental undertaking that it is being published under unusual circumstances. The sale of Nothing Sacred: The Cinema of William Wellman will last for only three months, through December 5, 2017, with the number of books printed depending on the number ordered. The book, a deluxe limited edition printed in full color, will be sent to the printer after December 5, with this edition being the only edition. Each copy costs $150, and each volume will be numbered and signed by both authors.

Nothing Sacred: The Cinema of William Wellman from Alexander Yew on Vimeo.

Thompson explained that the reason the two authors took on this project themselves is that “no publisher on earth would be lunatic enough to allow us to do it precisely as we wanted. And after working on this for more than half our lives, we felt that compromising would be pointless.”

Thompson said the book is as thorough and deeply researched as the most academic text but written, he and Gallagher hope, “with a sense of entertainment and drama. It’s illustrated like a coffee table book but the data—such as the exhaustive credits—is equal to any reference book.”

The two film historians met after Thompson had completed his earlier, 1983 study of Wellman. It was Thompson’s first book. Since then, he has gone on to author more than 40 works including Robert Wise: A Bio-Bibliography, Lost Films: Important Movies That Disappeared, Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, and I Was That Masked Man (written with Clayton Moore, the Lone Ranger). Thompson has also written and directed several documentaries, and worked as a writer and producer in television for 20 years.

Thompson, who long lived in Los Angeles and is now a resident of North Carolina, has recently published another notable book, Asheville Movies Volume 1: The Silent Era (Men With Wings Press). It is a work of local film history, and as such, a fascinating slice of American film history—in that what took place in Asheville was also taking place around the country.


John Gallagher is a New York City educator and filmmaker whose credits include The Networker, Blue Moon, The Deli, Sam, The Insurgents, Men Lie, and Street Hunter. He is the also author of Film Directors on Directing, and the forthcoming Hollywood’s Forgotten Master: The Life and Times of Tay Garnett.

As they put the finishing touches on Nothing Sacred: The Cinema of William Wellman, both authors are experiencing something of a sense of relief. Thompson said, “This has hovered over both of us for 35 years. There is a sense of accomplishment. Also a certain amount of nervousness. After all, what are we going to do for the next 35 years?”

Here a re a few sample pages from Nothing Sacred: The Cinema of William Wellman.




John McElwee of Greenbriar Picture Shows said this about this new book, "Awesome…a reading opportunity no film enthusiast should let fly by. There is not another [book] coming this or any year that I would recommend higher.”

Order your copy today! I have!!

a variant of this piece by Thomas Gladysz originally appeared in the Huffington Post

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Yet more screenings of Beggars of Life, starring Louise Brooks

The new DCP of Beggars of Life continues to "pick-up steam," with additional screening popping up just about everywhere. Here is a list, with links for time and ticket information, to forthcoming events.



Film Forum -- New York City     September 19, 2017
with live piano accompaniment by Steve Sterner

Northbrook Public Library -- Northbrook, Illinois     September 20, 2017
with live piano accompaniment by Dave Drazin

Cleveland Cinematheque -- Cleveland, Ohio   September 23, 2017
introduced by Jim Tully biographer Paul Bauer

National Audiovisual Institute, KAVI -- Helsinki, Finland     October 12 and 15, 2017

Brooklyn Public Library  --  Brooklyn, New York     November 12, 2017
with live piano accompaniment by Bernie Anderson. Hosted & Curated by Ken Gordon.

Wisconsin Cinematheque -- Madison, Wisconsin     December 1, 2017

Riverrun International Film Festival  --  Winston-Salem, North Carolina     April, 2018

An American silent film classic, Beggars of Life (1928) stars Louise Brooks as a train-hopping hobo who dresses like a boy to survive. After escaping her violent stepfather, Nancy (Brooks) befriends kindly drifter Jim (Richard Arlen). They ride the rails together until a fateful encounter with the blustery Oklahoma Red (Wallace Beery) and his rambunctious band of hoboes, leading to daring, desperate conflict on top of a moving train. Based on the memoir of real-life hobo Jim Tully, and directed with adventuresome verve by William Wellman (Wings, The Public Enemy, A Star is Born, The Ox-Bow Incident, etc....), Beggars of Life is an essential American original.

See the movie - read the new book about the movie!

This first ever study of Beggars of Life looks at the film Oscar-winning director William Wellman thought his finest silent movie. Based on Jim Tully’s bestselling book of hobo life—and filmed by Wellman the year after he made Wings (the first film to win the Best Picture Oscar), Beggars of Life is a riveting drama about an orphan girl (screen legend Louise Brooks) who kills her abusive stepfather and flees the law. She meets a boy tramp (leading man Richard Arlen), and together they ride the rails through a dangerous hobo underground ruled over by Oklahoma Red (future Oscar winner Wallace Beery). Beggars of Life showcases Brooks in her best American silent—a film the Cleveland Plain Dealer described as “a raw, sometimes bleeding slice of life.” With more than 50 little seen images, and a foreword by William Wellman, Jr.


Listen to Rob Edelman's WAMC radio review of the Beggars of Life HERE!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Pandora's Box with Louise Brooks to show in Bristol, UK

Pandora's Box presented by South West Silents
in Bristol, England

with an introduction by Pamela Hutchinson
Dir: G.W. Pabst, 1929, Germany, 130 mins (at 20fps), Cert: PG
-
Fri 24 November // 20:00
Tickets: £6 (full) / £5 (concession)

G.W. Pabst’s 1929 silent masterpiece Pandora’s Box stars Louise Brooks in the role that secured her place as one of the immortal goddesses of the silver screen. More information HERE.

This controversial, and in its day heavily censored, film is regularly ranked in the Top 100 films of all time (including Cahiers du Cinema and Sight & Sound). Brooks is unforgettable as Lulu (Louise Brooks), a sexy, amoral dancer who creates a trail of devastation as she blazes through Weimar-era Berlin, breaking hearts and destroying lives. From Germany, she flies to France, and finally to London, where tragedy strikes. This stunning photographed film is loosely based on the controversial Lulu plays by Frank Wedekind, and also features one of the cinema’s earliest lesbian characters.

This film will show from a 35mm film print from the National Film and Television Archive with live piano accompaniment by John Sweeney, and will feature an introduction by Pamela Hutchinson, author of a forthcoming BFI Film Classics book on Pandora’s Box.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Beggars of Life with screens in Cleveland, Ohio on Sept 23

The new restoration of Beggars of Life will be shown in Cleveland, Ohio on Saturday, September 23 at 5 pm. The 1928 film, which stars Louise Brooks, will be shown at the Cinematheque at the Cleveland Institute of Art (11610 Euclid Avenue). Beggars of Life is based on a memoir by vagabond writer and onetime Kent, OH, resident Jim Tully. Paul Bauer, co-author (with Mark Dawidziak) of the stellar 2011 biography Jim Tully: American Writer, Irish Rover, Hollywood Brawler, will introduce the film and sell and sign copies of his book. Cleveland revival premiere. DCP. 81 min. More information may be found HERE.


Louise Brooks’ best American film was made shortly before she left for Germany and found everlasting fame in G.W. Pabst’s Pandora’s Box and Diary of a Lost Girl. Here she plays a young woman who flees her cruel stepfather and, dressed in boy’s clothing, rides the rails with hobos. Wallace Beery and Richard Arlen co-star. At the time of its release, the Cleveland Plain Dealer described Beggars of Life as "a raw, sometimes bleeding slice of life." This silent film presentation has a new music score by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. 




The Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque is one of the country’s best repertory movie theaters, according to The New York Times. Founded in 1986, the alternative film theater shows classic, foreign, and independent films 50 weekends of the year. The Cinematheque offers discounted tickets to all CIA students and contributes to the richness of the college’s public programming in the arts.

Want to learn more about this acclaimed film ? Check out my new book, Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film. This first ever study of Beggars of Life looks at the film Oscar-winning director William Wellman thought his finest silent movie. Based on Jim Tully's bestselling book of hobo life-and filmed by Wellman the year after he made Wings (the first film to win the Best Picture Oscar), Beggars of Life is a riveting drama about an orphan girl (screen legend Louise Brooks) who kills her abusive stepfather and flees the law. She meets a boy tramp (leading man Richard Arlen), and together they ride the rails through a dangerous hobo underground ruled over by Oklahoma Red (future Oscar winner Wallace Beery). Beggars of Life showcases Brooks in her best American silent. Copies may be purchased through amazon.com, B&N.com, or through select independent bookstores. The new digital restoration of the film has just been released by Kino Lorber on DVD / Blu-ray.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Last Saturday's article about Jim Tully and Beggars of Life (and Louise Brooks, too)

Here is a copy of the article which appeared on the front page of last Saturday's St. Marys Evening Leader newspaper, on 9/02/2017.




Thursday, September 7, 2017

First reviews of the new Beggars of Life DVD from Kino Lorber (starring Louise Brooks)

Here are some of the first reviews of the new Beggars of Life DVD / Blu-ray from Kino Lorber. I've highlighted what each reviewer or publication said about the film in general, as well as any comments (please forgive me) about my audio commentary. Clicking on the hyperlinks will bring you to the full review, so those interested can read more.


Nathan Cone of NPR's Texas Public Radio noted, "Kino Lorber’s reissue of the film is welcome ... The transfer to Blu-ray is about the best you can hope for from the surviving 35mm print. In all, this is a satisfying chapter in a great Hollywood director’s career... Gladysz, who’s the founding director of the Louise Brooks Society, also goes into great detail about the studio production of the film, and the stories of its stars."

Mike Spring of the Albany Times Union (8/22/2017) said, "I love Blu-ray releases of obscure classic Hollywood cinema, and Kino Lorber’s new debut of Beggars of Life ... is a surprisingly effective film. I like silent movies but I’m not a blindly-loyal viewer who will proclaim every silent film a masterpiece, but Beggars of Life is a really strong film that holds up very well."

Jack Garner of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (8/20/2017) stated, "Beggars of Life... getting a superb Blu-ray release... was one of two best silent films of director William Wellman.... Gladysz, a Brooks scholar and the head of the Louise Brooks Society... provides input to our understanding of Beggars of Life in two ways. First, he performs one of two commentary tracks... Second, Gladysz has written a brief but informative book, Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film."


On Flavorwire, Jason Bailey (8/22/2017) noted, "This 1928 silent drama has somehow never made it to DVD or Blu-ray before, in spite of the presence of the great Wallace Beery and every cinephile’s crush, Louise Brooks. But Kino-Lorber has finally gotten the job done.... Beery is tough and charismatic as ever, but this is Brooks’s show, and she crushes it – her comparatively modern acting style (naturalistic and simple) keeps the story from veering into cartoon territory, though even in her pageboy caps and boy clothes, she’s still a stunner."


Mike Clark of Home Media Magazine (9/4/17) offered, "... it’s a pleasure to see it here in a decent print and, in fact, the first watchable one I’ve ever been able to catch of it. The non-Wellman commentator here is Thomas Gladysz, founding director of the Louise Brooks Society (a noble calling). He’s one of those welcome guys who knows how many miles to the gallon the 87th supporting player got on his car, and his contribution is welcome."

Critic Jeffrey M. Anderson wrote on Combustible Celluloid (8/23/2017), "But even amidst all this artistry, Wellman and his cast and crew still create a richly entertaining tale, effortlessly coaxing the audience to thrill to chases and train jumping, to root for the lovers, and, eventually, to find sympathy for Red. Kino Lorber is responsible for delivering this gem into our lives -- originally a Paramount title, and still bearing the Paramount logo -- on a newly restored Blu-ray. I found little fault with the picture quality, and the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra provides a lively, full-hearted score. William Wellman Jr. and noted Louise Brooks expert Thomas Gladysz (he has been running the Louise Brooks Society at least since the early days of the web) each provide commentary tracks."


Luigi Bastardo of Cinema Sentries (9/3/2017) called Beggars of Life a "compelling and beautifully photographed character drama" which "makes a triumphant return to the rails via a new HD presentation from Kino Lorber," as well as a "another stellar rediscovery from the Silent Era which is not only worthy of your attention, but is deserving of your affection, too." Bastardo adds, "Two distinctively different audio commentaries ‒ the first from William Wellman, Jr. and a secondary track from Louise Brooks Society co-founder Thomas Gladysz ‒ are included with this release, neither of which disappoints. While Wellman's track covers informative ground from an older, classy perspective, Gladysz' commentary tends to dive into juicier tidbit about the history of the film and its makers."

Writing on High Plains Reader, Christopher P. Jacobs (8/30/2017) thought "Beggars of Life is a powerful, often grim, but ultimately hopeful story of poverty, and seeking both happiness and redemption.... It now stands as one of the masterpieces of the Hollywood studio system, sound or silent.... Bonus items include a pamphlet and two different audio commentaries, one with numerous interesting anecdotes by the director’s son William Wellman, Jr., and the other a more detailed historical and stylistic analysis by Louise Brooks expert Thomas Gladysz, who recently wrote a companion book to this film. Wellman tends to have quite a few pauses in his commentary but remains consistently interesting with his first-hand information. Gladysz also has a few pauses, but gives a very engaging and in-depth background on the film, plus plenty of details about Brooks and quotes from her own essays and letters. Both commentaries are excellent additions to the Blu-ray."

From the Front Row (8/24/2017) opined, "Wellman's epic war film, Wings, went on to win the very first Oscar for Best Picture the same year, but Beggars of Life is perhaps a more impressive artistic achievement. While Wings is filled with stunning aerial photography and action sequences, Beggars of Life strikes a much deeper emotional chord.... Kino Lorber's new Blu-Ray features a gorgeous restoration that perfectly captures [Henry] Gerrard's lovely framing and melancholy imagery. It's one of Kino's best Blu-Discs yet, featuring an in-depth essay by Nick Pinkerton, as well as two audio commentaries featuring William Wellman, Jr., and Thomas Gladysz, founding director of the Louise Brooks Society. They offer illuminating insight into a forgotten gem of the silent era that is now ripe for rediscovery."


Glenn Erickson of DVD Savant / Trailers From Hell (8/8/2017) wrote that the new Beggars of Life DVD was "A happy discovery!" and "a major late-silent-era gem on the order of Von Sternberg’s Docks of New York," adding it "has a rich pre-Code feel." Erickson noted, "It’s also a key movie in our education/adoration of the maverick actress Louise Brooks, the erotic sensation too hot and too independent for Hollywood," and stated, "Kino and their producers Robert Sweeney and Bret Wood have given us an exemplary disc of a great silent movie." Regarding the bonus material, Erickson added, "Two academic commentaries are in place. William Wellman Jr.’s track is of course centered on his father’s career, while Thomas Gladysz of the Louise Brooks Society, takes his commentary into star-worship mode. Gladysz also contributed a track for Kino’s Diary of a Lost Girl, and is no slouch with the facts. It’s a very good listen."

Gary Tooze of DVDBeaver (8/4/2017) also reviewed the new KINO Lorber release, stating that Beggars of Life was "An American silent film classic" and "an essential American original," while adding " I was very impressed. I thought it was quite brilliant.... Very strongly recommended!" DVDBeaver had this to say about my contribution: "Kino adds two commentaries - the first by William Wellman, Jr. who discusses his director father and the making of the film. I thoroughly enjoyed all the details exported in the second commentary by Thomas Gladysz, founding director of the Louise Brooks Society. It is fascinating."


Stuart Galbraith IV of DVDTalk (8/22/2017) stated, "... the film still packs a pretty powerful punch in numerous ways.... Arlen is fine and while Brooks doesn't convince as a boy there's no question she lights up the screen and is a more nuanced and sensuous actress than most of her generation." Galbraith adds, "The fine supplements include two good commentary tracks, one by William Wellman, Jr., and the other by Thomas Gladysz of the Louise Brooks Society. An excellent booklet essay by Nick Pinkerton puts the film into historical context."


Brian Orndorf notes on Blu-ray.com (8/6/2017) that "Beggars of Life is largely considered to be one of Louise Brooks's finest motion pictures. The material asks quite a lot of the actress, portraying a haunted character in the midst of interstate travel and personal turmoil.... Beggars of Life is better with character than spectacle, and more interesting with wounded hearts than hardened ones, but most of it comes through vividly, making something compelling out of this strange journey."

On The Hitless Wonder Movie Blog, Dan Day Jr. (8/29/2017) said "Beggars of Life is a combination of gritty realism and old-fashioned sentiment.... Two audio commentaries are provided--one by William Wellman Jr. (which I have not listened to yet) and the other by Thomas Gladysz from the Louise Brooks Society. Gladysz's talk is an excellent one, going into all the relevant details of the production and the various adventures Louise Brooks had during the making of the film."

On Next Projection, Stacia Kissick Jones (8/17/2017) penned "With an exciting yet romantic script, delightful visuals, and what is arguably Louise Brooks’ best performance in an American film, Beggars of Life is a must-see film of the silent era.... Wellman’s son William Wellman, Jr. delivers audio commentary on Kino Lorber’s upcoming home video release of Beggars of Life, which utilizes the best print of the film known to exist, the 35mm version preserved at George Eastman Museum. Another audio commentary by Thomas Gladysz, founder of The Louise Brooks Society, is included, as well as a new score by The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra which uses some of the original 1928 music composed for the film."


On Coffee Coffee and More Coffee, Peter Nellhaus (8/22/2017) said "With Louise Brooks more popular now than she was in her lifetime, and honored as much for her independence as for some of her surviving films, dressing in masculine garb may well be more fitting the actress remembered for playing women who usually refused to be domesticated.... The chamber group, the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, performs the soundtrack, based on the 1928 cue sheets. There are also two commentary tracks, from the director's son, William Wellman, Jr., and Thomas Gladysz, who has a book on the making of Beggars of Life. Additionally, there is a booklet with notes by Nick Pinkerton. Between the three contributors, one gets a good picture of the effort required to make Beggars of Life amidst the sometimes fractious relationships between the various collaborators."

More reviews can be found elsewhere, including one by Samm Deighan in Diabolique Magazine (August 2017), and another by Jim Tudor on ZekeFilm (8/24/2017). A piece on Jim Tully and the film also appeared in the print edition of the St. Marys Evening Leader (in Saint Marys, Ohio) on Saturday, September 2. As well, their was a piece on the Nitrateville Radio podcast, which can be heard HERE.


The new Kino Lorber release was also reviewed by customers on amazon.com. And among the reviews were these comments:

Mark Hite thought it "A stunning restoration" and "A thrill to see."

Ron Wise stated "I'm thankful that Kino Lorber has released this important silent film in an excellent blu-ray edition. I've seen this film many times, and finally owning this edition is like seeing it for the first time. Kino Lorber has done an amazing job with the entire package. This new blu-ray release is well worth buying, enjoying, and adding to any film collection."

Chip Kaufmann wrote "Beggars of Life is quite remarkable for its vivid portrayal of hobo life in a pre-Depression America.... All in all a top notch release of an American silent film classic than can finally find the larger audience it deserves. A must for Louise Brooks fans or for Wallace Beery fans like myself."

Michael Gebert noted that "There are two commentary tracks—one by William Wellman Jr., which based on a spot listen seems to be mostly historical about the production (with some personal reminiscences thrown in), and one by Thomas Gladysz which has more of a focus on Brooks but also covers hobo author Jim Tully and the history of turning his book into this movie."

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Louise Brooks stars for three days at Brattle Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts

The historic Brattle Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts (located at 40 Brattle St.) will commence a a three day series of screenings featuring two films starring Louise Brooks. Here are the details. Visit the Brattle Theater website for further details including ticket availability.

Beggars of Life
Tue, Sep 5, 2017 at 8:30 PM
Thursday, September 7 at 6:00 PM (double bill with Diary of a Lost Girl)

New Digital Restoration!

(1928) dir William A. Wellman w/Louise Brooks, Wallace Beery, Richard Arlen, Blue Washington, Kewpie Morgan [81 min; DCP]

An American silent film classic, BEGGARS OF LIFE stars Louise Brooks as a train-hopping hobo who dresses like a boy to survive. After escaping her violent stepfather, Nancy (Brooks) befriends kindly drifter Jim (Arlen), and they ride the rails until an encounter with a rowdy band of hoboes led by the blustery Oklahoma Red (Beery) leads to a daring, desperate conflict on top of a moving train. Based on the memoir of real-life hobo Jim Tully, and directed with adventuresome verve by William Wellman, BEGGARS OF LIFE is an essential American original. Features a new original score by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.


Diary of a Lost Girl
Wed, Sep 6, 2017 at 8:30 PM
Thursday, September 7 at 8:00 PM (double bill Beggars of Life)

New Digital Restoration!

(1929) dir G.W. Pabst w/Louise Brooks, André Roanne [112 min; DCP]
The second and final collaboration of actress Louise Brooks and director G.W. Pabst (Pandora’s Box), DIARY OF A LOST GIRL is a provocative adaptation of Margarethe Böhme’s notorious novel, in which the naive daughter of a middle-class pharmacist is seduced by her father’s assistant, only to be disowned and sent to a repressive home for wayward girls. She escapes, searches for her child, and ends up in a high-class brothel, only to turn the tables on the society which had abused her. It’s another tour-de-force performance by Brooks, whom silent film historian Kevin Brownlow calls an “actress of brilliance, a luminescent personality and a beauty unparalleled in screen history.” – Thomas Gladysz


Don't forget: If you see the movie, why not read my books! Each are available on amazon.com or through select independent bookstores. Beggars of Life: A Companion to the 1928 Film is also available through Barnes and Noble.


And if you see the movie and want to see it again, be sure and pick up a copy of the outstanding Kino Lorber DVDs or Blu-ray. Each features an audio commentary by me, Thomas Gladysz, and each is available through amazon.com, B&N and through select independent bookstores.


The Brattle has also published a new piece, "Louise Brooks, Lost Girl," as part of their Film Notes series. This essay by Thomas Gladysz focuses on the Brattle's showing of the digitally restored versions of Beggars of Life and Diary of a Lost Girl. Check out the article at http://www.brattleblog.brattlefilm.org/2017/08/27/louis-brooks-lost-girl-5567/

Monday, September 4, 2017

John Ashbery & Louise Brooks encounter in Paris

The American poet John Ashbery has died. He was 90 years old. Ashbery was the first living poet to have a volume published by the Library of America dedicated exclusively to his work. But more than that, his 1975 collection, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, was the only winner of the book world's unofficial "triple crown": the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle prize. In 1985, Ashbery was named a MacArthur “genius,” and in 2011, Ashbery was given a National Humanities Medal and credited with changing "how we read poetry."

Ashbery was born in Rochester, New York, in 1927. He attended Harvard, and long lived in New York City. He was grouped with Frank O'Hara and Kenneth Koch as part of the avant-garde "New York School" of poets, although Ashbery believed what they really had in common was living in New York. Read one obit of the poet HERE (Associated Press), and another HERE (NYT Times).

I met him once, when he did a rare drop by book signing at the bookstore I once worked at. (He signed more than a dozen books for me, including translations of surrealist writers.)

It was then that Ashbery told me of his encounter with Louise Brooks, in a Paris hotel lobby in the late 1950s. As Ashbery explained, the hotel manager noticed that the poet was from Rochester, New York - and that was where Brooks was then living. (It's likely both registered as being from the upstate New York town.) And so, they were introduced....

I can't remember how the subject of Louise Brooks came-up (though I suppose I am always talking about the actress), but it might of had to do with Ashbery's friends, the New York poets Frank O'Hara and Bill Berkson. Both had written poems "about" Louise Brooks, and both were "fans" of the actress' films. Ashbery, as it turned out, was also interested in the actress. (Interestingly, Frank O'Hara's roommate in college at Harvard was the illustrator / artist Edward Gorey, another admirer of Louise Brooks.)

New Yorkers love Louise Brooks, just as she loved New York. Below is a picture (via Wikipedia) of Paul Auster and John Ashbery at the 2010 Brooklyn Book Festival. Auster, as many may know, is a novelist and the author of Lulu on the Bridge.

Paul Auster John Ashbery BBF 2010 Shankbone

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Pandora's Box shows in Manilla Sept. 4

Pandora's Box (1929), the sensational G.W. Pabst directed film starring Louise Brooks, will be shown in Manila in the Philippeans on September 3 at 5:30 pm as part of the 11th annual International Silent Film Festival Manila. This special free screening is co-sponsored by the Goethe-Institut Philippinen. Scoring the film is the Philippine rock band known as Sandwich.

From the Festival: "At 5:30 PM, Goethe-Institut Philippinen will screen one of silent cinema’s masterworks, Pandora’s Box (1929), by George Wilhelm Pabst. Based on the controversial plays of Frank Wedekind, the film features the dazzling Louise Brooks in her classic bobbed hairstyle as Lulu. Pandora’s Box will be accompanied by the band Sandwhich, led by local rock icon Raymond Marasigan."

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