PANDORA’S BOX
DIE BÜCHSE DER PANDORA
1929, Janus Films, 110 min, Germany, Dir: G.W. Pabst

As Henri Langlois once thundered, “There is no Garbo! There is no Dietrich! There is only Louise Brooks!” Here she proves it with one of the wildest performances of the silent era, as the dancer-turned-hooker Lulu who attracts men like moths to a candle. Politicians, titans of industry and the aristocracy are all part of the milieu Lulu inhabits as the story begins; her eventual descent to a criminal underworld underlines the fragility of German society between the wars. The combination of Brooks and director G.W. Pabst (“It was sexual hatred that engrossed his whole being with its flaming reality,” she once said) is still astonishing.


BEGGARS OF LIFE
1928, Kino Lorber, 100 min, USA, Dir: William A. Wellman

Rough-and-tumble writer Jim Tully’s autobiography served as the basis for what many consider Louise Brooks’ best American film. She plays a young woman who kills her abusive stepfather and hits the road (in the company of Richard Arlen) hoping to make it to safety in Canada. Wallace Beery delivers a memorable performance as hobo Oklahoma Red in this beautifully shot silent.


DIARY OF A LOST GIRL
DAS TAGEBUCH EINER VERLORENEN
1929, Kino Lorber, 112 min, Germany, Dir: G.W. Pabst

Seduced and abandoned by her father’s assistant, Louise Brooks descends into a lurid hell of reformatories and whorehouses. For a debauched party scene, Pabst insisted on realism – so Brooks complied by playing “the whole scene stewed on hot, sweet German champagne.”


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