Filled Under: Louise Brooks
“A well dressed woman, even though her purse is painfully empty, can conquer the world.” ~ Louise Brooks
“Most beautiful but dumb girls think they are smart and get away with it, because other people, on the whole, aren’t much smarter.” ~ Louise Brooks
“When I went to Hollywood in 1927, the girls were wearing lumpy sweaters and skirts. I was wearing sleek suits and half naked beaded gowns and piles and piles of furs.” ~ Louise Brooks
“I learned how to act by watching Martha Graham dance and I learned how to dance by watching Charles Chaplin act.” ~ Louise Brooks
“There is no other occupation in the world that so closely resembled enslavement as the career of a film star.” ~ Louise Brooks
“Love is a publicity stunt, and making love, after the first curious raptures, is only another petulant way to pass the time waiting for the studio to call.” ~ Louise Brooks
“I never gave away anything without wishing I had kept it; nor kept it without wishing I had given it away.” ~ Louise Brooks
Louise Brooks, nicknamed “Lulu” after her role in the 1929 silent classic, “Pandora’s Box”, is the ultimate 1920’s flapper. Born in Kansas in 1906, she began dancing at a young age with the Denishawn Dancers, and eventually made her way to New York City where she became a chorus girl in George White’s Scandals. From there she became a featured dancer in the 1925 Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway. While at the follies, she came to the attention of Paramount Pictures producer Walter Wanger who signed her to a five year deal with Paramount. Brooks hated the ‘Hollywood’ scene and left for Europe after her contract was up with Paramount. It was in Europe where she made her two best films,“Pandoras Box” (1929) and “Diary Of A Lost Girl”. Both by the legendary silent film director G. W. Pabst and both are considered cinematic classics. She made twenty-five films in her short acting career with her last in 1938. After she retired from films, she led a quiet life, spending her time reading and painting. She eventually became an accomplished author, writing several books, including her own biography. She died of a heart attack on August 8 1985, in New York. She was 78 years old. Although Brooks is widely praised by modern critics for her acting ability, she is mostly remembered for her bobbed haircut, her beauty and china doll like face, and her sexually liberating lifestyle.
One of my favorite sites about old classic movies is called Silent Stanzas. On this site a young lady writes poetry and anecdotes about silent film. Her writings are very, very good. A step above most and many steps above what I’m capable of. It was there I found “Scrubbie’s Sonnet”, an ode if you will to Louise Brooks. I liked it so much, I included in my post below. I hope she doesn’t mind.
Her liquid gaze could melt the coldest heart,
Her perfect face framed ‘round by ebony;
Since early on her dancing was an art –
Lithe hands and limbs in quaking ecstasy.
Not one to walk on eggshells, biting wit
And knife-blade tongue would often trouble make;
But unrelenting, in the face of it
She’d stand, too proud to let it see her break.
From featured player to forgotten star,
To author/critic, razor-edged and quick:
A sharpened, honey-coated scimitar,
A heady blend of sex and arsenic.
With such a life – complex beyond compare –
How strange her strongest legacy’s her hair
In 1998, Roger Ebert reviewed Pandora’s Box, giving the film much praise and saying of Louise Brooks, “she regards us from the screen as if the screen were not there; she casts away the artifice of film and invites us to play with her.”
Pandora’s Box (1929) is a silent movie directed by the Austrian filmmaker Georg Wilhelm Pabst. The movie is based on two plays, Earth’s Spirit and Pandora’s Box, written at the beginning of the 20th century by the controversial German playwright Frank Wedekind. It is said that he wrote them “with the deliberate intent of shocking his middle class audience by talking bluntly about the consequences of sex, violence, and hypocrisy”. If that was the playwright’s intent, Pabst succeeded in doing the same in the film. Louise Brook’s stars as ‘Lulu”, a child/woman who’s open sexuality has a disastrous effect on all who love her. The film follows her in her downward spiral as she takes everyone who desires her down with her into her descent. Pandora’s Box also stars Fritz Kortner, Francis Lederer, and Alice Roberts. Although released in 1929, the movie is incredibly modern, daring in it’s use of sexuality and violence, and cutting edge in it’s inclusion of a lesbian countess (Alice Roberts) who also falls for Louise Brook’s character ‘Lulu’. Initially panned by critics, it was rediscovered in the 1950’s, and modern critics call it “a cinematic masterpiece”, thanks in large part to the beautiful and sensual Louise Brooks. The Internet Movie Database says “this movie is one of the great treasures of cinema, and Louise Brooks one of the most talented and fascinating actresses to ever appear in movies, on either side of the Atlantic.”