SILENT MOVIES: Louise Brooks, The Quintessential Flapper

[Edited and reposted from my Facebook page.]

I love movies. Current releases, Hollywood classics, foreign movies, and really old, silent movies.

If you haven’t made a habit of watching pre-sound films, you might not know the name Louise Brooks.  She was one of the most beautiful women of the 20th century, intellectually brilliant, sexually uninhibited, pleasure-loving, strong-willed, non-conformist, and a marvelous dancer.  Unsurprisingly, she was a Scorpio.

Louise Brooks started a very promising career in the Hollywood studio system that might have rivaled that of Garbo or Dietrich, but just as her star began to rise, she threw it all away on a self-destructive, rebellious whim of the kind that only a young person (she was twenty-two) can muster, in order to star in a German film for the Austrian director G.W. Pabst.  As it turned out, however, the movie they made, Pandora’s Box, is widely considered one of the three best films of the silent era, and one of the greatest ever.  It also gave Brooks cinematic immortality, something for which she seemingly was destined.

Her acting style was as natural as any in today’s movies, and that in an era when the accepted technique was exaggerated and stilted in ways that seem to us almost laughable.  If you’ve never seen her performance as Lulu, the prostitute whose artless selfishness destroys the men in her life, you owe it to yourself to do so.  Pandora’s Box is available on DVD.

Oh, and if you haven’t crossed paths with her memoir, Lulu in Hollywood, try to track down a copy.  Her wit and sharp intelligence shine through every page.

Here’s a brief documentary about her from the `70s, made soon after her death, badly chopped up on YouTube but still watchable.  Other videos featuring Louise Brooks are available on YouTube as well.

One Response to SILENT MOVIES: Louise Brooks, The Quintessential Flapper

  1. Pingback: SILENT MOVIES: The Passion of Joan of Arc « pamela marcantel

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