In 1955, Henri Langlois proclaimed “There is no Garbo, there is no Dietrich, there is only Louise Brooks.”
The French cinephile and co-founder of the Cinémathèque Française was stating what many Parisians felt – that the bobbed-hair silent film star from Kansas was first in their hearts.
Brooks’ films have long been popular in the French capital. Movies like A Girl in Every Port (1928) and Diary of a Lost Girl (1929) enjoyed extended runs in Parisian cinemas when first shown. As well, the first ever book about the actress, Roland Jaccard’s Louise Brooks: Portrait of an Anti-Star, was published in Paris in 1977.
France’s love affair with Louise Brooks continues. On Friday, December 24, the Forum des Images will screen Prix de beauté (1930). In this, her last European filmand final starring role, Brooks plays a typist stuck in a dull job who wins a beauty contest. The film includes a lovely theme song (not sung by Brooks) as well as one of the great endings in cinema history.
The film was shot in and around Paris, and was based on a story idea by the French director Rene Clair. The scenes of the Miss Europe beauty pageant were filmed in Paris’ Jardin d’ Acclimatation, where thousands of spectators had gathered. Other scenes were shot in the offices and printing plant of a newspaper located on the Boulevard des Italiens (9th).
The film, which will be shown at 2:30 pm, is being presented as part of the series of great films made in the French city. The film was shot in late 1929 and released in early 1930. It had its premier on May 9, 1930 at the Max Linder-Pathe in Paris.
For two weeks in June 1930, while Prix de beauté was showing at the Max-Linder, another Brooks film, Trois pages d’un journal (1929), was showing at the Colisée in Paris.
Trois pages d’un journal is known in English as Diary of a Lost Girl. This G.W. Pabst directed film, which was made (in Germany) the year before Prix de beauté, will also be shown in Paris in the coming weeks. On January 13, Diary of a Lost Girl will be shown at the Action Christine cinema (at 4 Rue Christine). The screening, set for 8:30 pm, will be preceded by an author event at the nearby Village Voice Bookshop (at 6 Rue Princesse). The Village Voice event is set for 7:30 pm.
The author event marks the publication of a new edition of The Diary of a Lost Girl, the 1905 book which served as the basis for the 1929 film of the same name featuring Brooks.
For more info: The Forum des Images is located at Forum des Halles, Passage Rambuteau, 75001 PARIS 01. Details on the December 24 screening can be found at www.forumdesimages.fr/Collections/notice/VDP1017
Thomas Gladysz is a longtime fan of Louise Brooks, so much so that in 1995 he founded the Louise Brooks Society, an internet-based archive and international fan club devoted to the silent film star. Gladysz has contributed to books on the actress, organized exhibits, appeared on television, and introduced her films around the country.