Saturday, November 25, 2006

Silver screen goddess at the NFT

When I was a teenager I had a poster of the photograph taken by Horst of Jean Harlow on my bedroom wall and a postcard of Louise Brooks stuck next to it. I also had postcards of Kollontai, Zetkin and Luxemburg on the wall as well but that's another post. I liked and still like those wisecracking, disreputable, intelligent and independently (and dirty) minded women of the 1920s/1930s Hollywood silver screen such as Louise Brooks, Tallulah Bankhead ("My father warned me about men and booze but he never mentioned a word about women and cocaine".) Jean Harlow, Marlene Dietrich, Katharine Hepburn and Dorothy Parker (yes, I know, she didn't act but oh could she write).

So, I was pleased to see that the National Film Theatre are having a Louise Brooks season next month and there was also a piece in yesterday's Guardian about her. It is about time she was rehabilitated. She was one gorgeous, provocative looking woman with that famous black bob, luscious eyes and full pert lips. But her work as an actress was never really fully realised as she wouldn't submit herself to the Hollywood machine. Brooks bucked the trend. She took herself off to Germany to star in GW Pabst's Pandora's Box and A Diary of a Lost Girl. The character Lulu was born. Brooks retired from films and started to write. In the 1970s she was rediscovered by critic Kenneth Tynan. She died in 1985.

But that vampish look has been updated and the spirit of Lulu lives on. For me, she was the original sexy femme fatale and what an icon she still is......