As we approach the exciting special screening of Pandora’s Box starring Louise Brooks at the Paramount Theater, Saturday, May 6, 2023, EatDrinkFilms brings you an international collection of posters, ephemera, documentaries and other fascinating treasures related to G.W Pabst’s restored masterpiece.
(Editor’s Note: As your editor made dozens of searches on the Internet and through his own collection of books to find rare and memorable images, posters, ephemera and video for the articles on Pandora’s Box, The Louise Brooks Society website continuously came up as the source of fabulous items to include. Just after we published an article by Tom Gladysz, who founded that unique resource in 1995, he sent an email alerting us that he has been forced to shut down the site because of empty legal threats from an Internet troll who has already forced his other related social media sites down. To read his full explanation go to his blog here.)
Probably the most popular book on Louise Brooks is her own, Lulu In Hollywood, now available in the original 1983 version and an expanded edition from University of Minnesota Press.
There are other books about Louise Brooks including Dear Stinkpot: Letter from Louise Brooks, Louise Brooks: A Biography by Barry Paris, Maximillien De Lafayette’s self proclaimed “ book that could infuriate Brook’s fans,” Louise Brooks: Her Men, Affairs, Scandals and Persona (the listing’s notes are hilarious and might be an April Fool’s joke), and the terrific books by Thomas Gladysz including Louise Brooks, the Persistent Star.
Tom Graves was the last journalist ever to sit bedside with Miss Brooks and his interview is included in Louise Brooks, Frank Zappa, & Other Charmers & Dreamers.
A selection of books, videos, and related things to buy about Louise Brooks can be found at the Louise Brooks Society website.
Watch Looking for Lulu (1998), a one-hour documentary directed by Barry Paris recounting the life story of Louise Brooks in 5 sections: “Lulu in Toe Shoes”; “Lulu in Hollywood”; “Lulu in Berlin”; “Lulu in Hell”; and “Resurrection”. Narrated by Shirley MacLaine and featuring numerous interviews with friends and relatives of the legendary star, it also contains excerpts from many of her films including her first on-screen appearance.
Louise Brooks Tells All in Kenneth Tynan’s terrific “The Girl in the Black Helmet” (1979) in The New Yorker.
An exploitation trailer
“A Hell of a Fade-Out” by Sam Kashner for Vanity Fair tells the whole story of Kenneth Tynan’s life in Hollywood, falling in love with Louise Brooks and their relationship that led to the tragic separation from his wife Kathleen.
A Curious Idol: Documentary of a Lost Girl Sneak Peek: Finding Louise Brooks- A film in production
More about this film that uses newly uncovered archival materials, interviews with surviving friends, and location shoots to reveal Louise’s life—away from the camera.
Louise Brooks dancing, (reedited from Pandora’s Box and set to a remix of n Depeche Mode’s “Lie to Me”).
Excellent one hour documentary, Louise Brooks (1986) directed by Richard Leacock and Charles Chabot for BBC Arena looks at the life of Louise Brooks with Linda Hunt reading excerpts from her book Lulu in Hollywood, interviews with Brooks and clips from her career.
Lulu in Berlin is available on the Criterion Channel or can be viewed in four parts below.
Louise Brooks discloses details of “Pandora’s Box” and “Diary of a Lost Girl” and about her colleague Carl Goetz; her relationship with the expressionist director Georg Wilhelm Pabst, comparing his working method with Ernst Lubitsch; her meeting with Rene Clair; why Marlene Dietrich has not been selected to perform Lulu; insights about Greta Garbo and Leni Riefenstahl; and her relationship with her lover George Preston Marshall. Directed by Richard Leacock and Susan Steinberg.
Thomas Gladysz writes,” If you have seen Pandora’s Box, then you may have noticed the musical group playing at the wedding reception in act 4. The name of the group, at times cut off by the camera or somewhat obscured by the movements of various characters, can be spotted on the group’s drum kit. They are a six member group called Sid Kay’s Fellows.” Read Gladysz article about them.
Louise Brooks was painted by many artists, photographed by fashion photographers and served as the inspiration for John H. Striebel’s long running flapper-inspired comic strip, “Dixie Dugan.”
The Dixie character appeared illegally in “Tijuana Bibles” which were pornographic comic strips in the 1930s.
“The Cartoon Woman” explores how Brooks inspired not only the Dixie Dugan comic strips but Guido Crepax’s erotic thriller series, Valentina.
An Italian compilation of Valentina comics can be viewed here.
Brooks also inspired a graphic novel, Louise Brooks: Detective, a”fictional story centered on actress Louise Brooks, this graphic novel by Rick Geary is spun around her actual brief meteoric career as a smoldering film actress who popularized bangs. Louise goes back to her home town of Wichita where she becomes intrigued by a murder involving a friend, a famous reclusive writer and a shady beau. Not before she gets herself in great danger will she emerge with the solution the police fail to grasp. Geary also penned the Pandora’s Box related Jack the Ripper: A Journal of the Whitechapel Murders 1888-1889.
We couldn’t resist offering more stills from Pandora’s Box with some commentary courtesy of Wikipedia:
Brooks’s performance in Pandora’s Box made her a star. In looking for the right actress to play Lulu, Pabst had rejected Marlene Dietrich as “too old and too obvious.” In choosing Brooks, a relative unknown who had only appeared—not to very great effect—in secondary roles, Pabst was going against the advice of those around him. Brooks recalled that “when we made Pandora’s Box, Mr. Pabst was a man of 43 who astonished me with his knowledge on practically any subject. I, who astonished him because I knew practically nothing on every subject, celebrated my twenty-second birthday with a beer party on a London street.” Brooks claimed her experience shooting Pandora’s Box in Germany was a pleasant one: “In Hollywood, I was a pretty flibbertigibbet whose charm for the executive department decreased with every increase in my fan mail. In Berlin I stepped to the station platform to meet Mr. Pabst and became an actress. And his attitude was the pattern for all. Nobody offered me humorous or instructive comments on my acting. Everywhere I was treated with a kind of decency and respect unknown to me in Hollywood. It was just as if Mr. Pabst had sat in on my whole life and career and knew exactly where I needed assurance and protection.”
When audiences and critics first viewed Brooks’s German films, they were bewildered by her naturalistic acting style. Viewers purportedly exited the theatre vocally complaining, “She doesn’t act! She does nothing!” In the late 1920s, cinemagoers were habituated to stage-style acting with exaggerated body language and facial expressions. Brooks’s acting style was subtle because she understood that the close-up images of the actors’ bodies and faces made such exaggerations unnecessary. Explaining her method, Brooks said that acting “does not consist of descriptive movement of face and body but in the movements of thought and soul transmitted in a kind of intense isolation.” This innovative style continues to be used by contemporary film actors but, at the time, it was surprising to viewers who assumed she wasn’t acting at all. Film critic Roger Ebert later wrote that, by employing this method, “Brooks became one of the most modern and effective of actors, projecting a presence that could be startling.”
Her appearances in Pabst’s two films made Brooks an international star. According to film critic and historian Molly Haskell, the films “expos[ed] her animal sensuality and turn[ed] her into one of the most erotic figures on the screen—the bold, black-helmeted young girl who, with only a shy grin to acknowledge her ‘fall,’ became a prostitute in Diary of a Lost Girl and who, with no more sense of sin than a baby, drives men out of their minds in Pandora’s Box.”
Near the end of 1929, English film critic and journalist Cedric Belfrage interviewed Pabst for an article about Brooks’s film work in Europe that was published in the February 1930 issue of the American monthly Motion Picture. According to Belfrage, Pabst attributed Brooks’s acting success outside the U.S. to her seemingly inherent or instinctive “European” sensibilities: the eminent Herr Pabst described it to me over a cocktail in the Bristol Bar, Berlin. “Louise,'” said Herr Pabst, “has a European soul. You can’t get away from it. When she described Hollywood to me—I have never been there—I cry out against the absurd fate that ever put her there at all. She belongs to Europe and to Europeans. She has been a sensational hit in her German pictures. I do not have her play silly little cuties. She plays real women, and plays them marvelously.”
Belfarge elaborated on Brooks’s opinion of Hollywood, and referred to Pabst’s firsthand knowledge of that opinion. “The very mention of the place,” he stated, “gives her a sensation of nausea.” He continued, “The pettiness of it, the dullness, the monotony, the stupidity—no, no, that is no place for Louise Brooks.”
During the 1920’s, Brooks was also a model, and appeared occasionally in fashion ads. Her sleek looks and signature bob helped define the flapper look.
Louise Brooks – A Tribute in Color -color tinted by David Pearson
Brooks became an excellent writer with her Lulu in Hollywood and she seemed to have been quite a reader.
Scenes from the lost Louise Brooks Now We’re in the Air.
Cook like Louise with Knickerbocker Supreme of Chicken, one of her favorite recipe and hear Thomas Gladysz tell stories of Brooks.
Want More? Go here for a spectacular selection of studio portraits and more.
Can’t get enough? Getty Images has dozens more.
Louise is tired and says “Good Night.”