Saturday July 14, 7:00pm The Castro, San Francisco
"Watch out for this girl!"
With a spate of popular Hollywood films under her belt including The Show-Off (1926), A Girl In Every Port (1928) and Beggars Of Life (1928), Louise Brooks thumbed her nose at Paramount Pictures and broke her contract to star in what would be her two best remembered films, Pandora's Box (Die Buchse der Pandora) and Diary of a Lost Girl (Das Tagebuch Einer Verlorenen), both with German director G. W. Pabst in 1929. They would elevate a great director to near-legendary status, made a cultural icon out of Brooks years later and virtually destroyed the rest of her acting career. Returning to Hollywood in 1931, she was relegated to supporting roles and B movies, before retiring in obscurity less than ten years later.
Based on two plays written by Frank Wedekind, Pandora's Box is the story of Lulu (Brooks), a tempting, amoral beauty no man can resist, usually with tragic results. Pabst created a separate and distinct mood for each part of the story, which follows Lulu from her privileged life as a kept woman, through a disastrous marriage, into fugitive flight and her eventual demise in poverty. The theater sequence with its animated backstage chaos, scantily dressed dancers, acrobats and stagehands, is a dazzling showcase with Brooks as its centerpiece. The arrival of her "patron" Dr. Schoen (Fritz Kortner) with his fiancée sparks sexual tension that is matched only by Lulu's ferocious kicking, screaming tantrum and its erotic overtones. When Lulu and her friends flee Berlin after her conviction at Dr. Schoen's murder trial they find themselves aboard a claustrophobic, smoke filled gambling boat they are soon desperate to escape. Arriving in London, which Pabst shrouds in murky darkness, they languish in the squalor of their hiding place.
Pabst' lingering images of Brooks, sparkling in jewels and bursting with energy are the embodiment of pure sexuality on film. Considered too controversial by 1929 standards, Pandora's Box was extensively cut by German censors who objected to elements of pandering, prostitution and lesbianism in the story.
The 17th Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival, The McRoskey Mattress Company and Barbara Osheer ProSucia Foundation present Pandora's Box starring Louise Brooks, with live musical accompaniment performed by The Matti Bye Ensemble.