Wednesday, December 29, 2010

“Hearts and Daggers: A Rochester Love Story.” II

Doing some work on my second idea for Hearts and Daggers. Was thinking of Saints and Sinners as a theme for this one. So I remembered that Louise Brooks spent her final years here in Rochester and is buried just off Lake Ave in  Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

Well she was a real Saint and Sinner!

Brooks began her entertainment career as a dancer, joining the Denishawn modern dance company (whose members included founders Ruth St. Denis, and Ted Shawn, as well as a young Martha Graham) in 1922. In her second season with the company, Brooks had advanced to a starring role in one work opposite Shawn. A long-simmering personal conflict between Brooks and St. Denis boiled over one day, however, and St. Denis abruptly fired Brooks from the troupe in 1924, telling her in front of the other members that "I am dismissing you from the company because you want life handed to you on a silver salver".[The words left a strong impression on Brooks; when she drew up an outline for a planned autobiographical novel in 1949, "The Silver Salver" was the title she gave to the tenth and final chapter.


Brooks almost immediately found employment as a chorus girl in George White's Scandals, followed by an appearance as a featured dancer in the 1925 edition of the Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway.

She then went to Hollywood and started in a number of silent films. Later, Brooks, who loathed the Hollywood "scene", refused to stay on at Paramount after being denied a promised raise, and left for Europe to make films for G. W. Pabst, the prominent German Expressionist director.

Once in Germany, she starred in the 1929 film Pandora's Box, directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst in his New Objectivity period. The film is based on two plays by Frank Wedekind and Brooks plays the central figure, Lulu. This film is notorious for its frank treatment of modern sexual mores, including one of the first screen portrayals of a lesbian. Brooks then starred in the controversial social drama Diary of a Lost Girl (1929),and Prix de Beauté (1930), the latter being filmed in France, and having a famous surprise ending. All these films were heavily censored, as they were very "adult" and considered shocking in their time for their portrayals of sexuality, as well as their social satire.


She was rediscovered by James Card, the film curator for the George Eastman House, discovered Louise living as a recluse in New York City about this time, and persuaded her to move to Rochester, New York to be near the George Eastman House film collection. With his help, she became a noted film writer in her own right. A collection of her witty and cogent writings, Lulu in Hollywood, was published in 1982.

So here we have a really good “Hearts and Daggers: A Rochester Love Story” subject to play with.

I found a number of photos of Brooks all over the net. I think that this one may do the trick. I will however remove the lettering and just title it LULU goes to Rochester.