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The San Francisco Examiner from San Francisco, California • Page 308
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The San Francisco Examiner from San Francisco, California • Page 308

San Francisco, California
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Lovely lulu immmmmm lives Again A decade after her death, silent-film star Louise Brooks is more popular than ever By Laura Evenson Chronicle Staff Whiter he drank with W.C. Fields and Tallulah Bankhead, socialized with Robert Benchley, danced with the Ziegfeld Follies, slept with Charlie Chaplin and beat out Marlene Dietrich for the star i no. Starting May 31, an "Homage to Lulu" exhibition will display literary, cinematic and musical evocations of the Lulu archetype, from Frank Wedekind's turn-of-the-century expressionist plays through Berg's opera. What is it about Brooks that stirs such passion and nearly fanatical devotion? "She's an amazing screen presence, and she was incredibly beautiful, but it's really the extra-cinematic qualities about her that stir devotion," said Thomas Gladysz, a Brooks fan who has put together the exhibitions. "She was amazingly intelligent, has quite a compelling life story, and later wrote very witty, intelligent essays on film.

Plus, she had a smashing haircut." Brooks' compelling life story started in 1906 in Cherryvale, then moved rapidly to New York, where at age 15 she joined the renowned, arty Denishawn Dance Company that included a young Martha Graham. But by age 18, Brooks' infamous reputation for hauteur and temper prompted Denishawn director Ruth St. Denis to expel her from the troupe. In the next year, she danced with the George White Scandals, joined the Ziegfeld Follies, had an affair with Chaplin and signed a five-year contract with Paramount. Later, Brooks would say: "I learned how to act by watching Martha Graham dance, and I learned how to dance by watching Charles Chaplin act." Films with Paramount included "The American Venus," "A Girl in Every Port" and "Beggars of Life." But when P.

Schulberg denied her a raise in 1928, Brooks quit Paramount. Later that year, she rejected $10,000 offered by the studio to dub a movie she had just finished as a silent, "Canary Murder Case." Meanwhile, she had gone to Germany, where she starred as Lulu in G.W. Pabst "Pandora's Box." She went on to star in Pabit A portrait of Louise Brooks from the 1920s. ring role of Lulu in the 1928 German classic "Pandora's Box." Yet for all her charisma, beauty, talent, lovers and antics, Louise Brooks is probably best remembered for her trademark hairstyle, a glistening, raven helmet called the bob. A silent-movie icon who did her bit to make the 1920s roar, Brooks is enjoying a revival 70 years after the height of her fame and more than a decade after her death.

A mini mania over Brooks erupted about eight years ago when Knopf published Barry Paris' "Louise Brooks" biography. Spurring the latest revival is a new documentary, "Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu," that will be shown Tuesday on the Turner Classic Movies channel. On May 18, the Castro Theatre in San Francisco will screen "Pandora's Box" as part of a citywide Femmes Fatales Festival that coincides with a femmes fatales series at the San Francisco Opera. That series includes a new production of Alban Berg's 1937 opera, "Lulu." But in this version, the title character will look more like a leggy Jean Harlowe-style siren than Brooks' petite vixen. Two San Francisco exhibitions that feature Brooks will be displayed at What's for Dessert, a cafe and bakery on Church Street.

Starting today and running through the month, "Stars of the Silent Screen" will include movie memorabilia, portraits, film stills and other vintage material designed to promote early screen stars including Brooks and Rudolph Valenti LOUISE BROOKS EVENTS 5:30 p.m. Saturday, 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday. Free.

(4 1 5) 695-94 7 7. "Pandora's Louise Brooks' 1928 film screens with organ accompaniment by Bob Vaughn at 7 p.m. May 18 at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro San Francisco. Tickets: San Francisco Opera production based on Alban Berg's 1937 opera. June 6, 19, 23 and 28 at the War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness San Francisco.

Tickets: 140. (415)864-3330. "Louise Brooks: Looking for Documentary airs at 5 and 8 p.m. Tuesday and at 4 p.m. May 1 6 on the Turner Classic Movies cable network.

Available in most Bay Area counties, except San Francisco. "Stars of the Silent Vintage movie memorabilia featuring such silent-film stars as Louise Brooks and Mary Pickford, today-May 3 1 "Homage to Vintage books, sheet music, photographs and magazines about the Lulu character, May 3 1-June 27. What's for Dessert, 1497 Church San Francisco. Open 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.- 0 0 a a 40.

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