Thursday, September 21, 2017

Portrait of Louise Brooks Goes to Auction

This painting will be offered on November 20th at Bonhams Auction House in New York City, along with almost 400 other pieces from the collection of Ira Resnick. Details to come.

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!
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