Looking for something good to read? Here are some suggestions for fans of Louise Brooks and early film – be it the silent era, pre-code, or golden age of Hollywood. Fans of Louise Brooks will also want to check out the “Best 2012 releases for the Louise Brooks Fan” which appeared earlier on examiner.com. It includes newly released books, e-books and DVDs. Also, a “Best Film Books of 2012” appeared on the Huffington Post. It includes books on Mae Murray, Thelma Todd, Mary Pickford, Lupe Velez and other noted individuals from the silent era.

As just about every Louise Brooks fan knows, the actress made two films in Germany, Pandora’s Box and Diary of a Lost Girl (both 1929). Each were made against the backdrop of considerable artistic ferment and social change. All, it seemed then, was in flux.

This year and last, a handful of academic and specialty presses released books which look at various aspects of the Weimar era in Germany. Here are a few of most interesting titles which sketch that time and place. Each book is followed by the publisher supplied description.


Best Film Books of 2012

December 27, 2012

Despite those who proclaim the death of the book as well as death of film, it has been a great year for books about movies.

Four of our smartest film critics released thought provoking new books which take a look at the big picture. They are The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies by David Thomson, Do the Movies Have a Future? by David Denby, Film After Film: (Or, What Became of 21st Century Cinema?) by J. Hoberman, and Gods Like Us: On Movie Stardom and Modern Fame by Ty Burr. Each are recommended.

Looking over the other film books released in 2012, it’s striking how many of the best of them — or at least the most compelling and interesting titles — are biographies, memoirs or a hybrid biographical-career study. The movies are about story-telling. And if you have an interest in film, there is something about the life story of an actor or director that makes for good reading — especially if that story is well told or groundbreaking in some way.

Here are a baker’s dozen of the best film books published in 2012, listed alphabetically by author. Admittedly, I love old movies and classic Hollywood — and this list reflects that preference. One could ask, “Are these the best film books of the year?” I think so. The annotated slide show highlights the dozen recommended works listed here.

There are also four additional titles noted at the end which couldn’t be included in a top 12, but are also worth checking out.

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It’s that time of the year when critics, journalists, bloggers and others issue their “Best of” lists – the year’s recommended new releases in the world of books, movies, music and more. Here’s the best of 2012 with a twist, exceptional new releases for fans of the silent film star Louise Brooks.

Like last year, 2012 saw the release of a small but distinguished number of new releases related to the legendary silent film star. Prominent among them is Laura Moriarty’s widely acclaimed bestselling novel, The Chaperone, as well as a handful of DVD‘s including the first ever DVD release of Brooks’ last film, Overland Stage Raiders. Fans of the actress will want to check out all of these recent releases.

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here are few pop culture icons like Louise Brooks . . . and Andy Warhol. Each is legendary. Each, in ways, symbolize their time.

The silent film star and the pop artist come together on November 2 when the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania screens the gender-bending 1928 Louise Brooks’ film, Beggars of Life. Live musical accompaniment will be provided by Pittsburgh’s Daryl Fleming and friends.

Brooks’ singular beauty, charisma and naturalness helped make her a popular star in the 1920s. The bobbed hair actress was best known for her roles in light romantic comedies like Love Em and Leave Em (1926) and A Girl in Every Port (1928). Her dramatic role in Beggars of Life proved to be something different.

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There may be no more bizarre and creepy horror film than The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). It is a masterpiece of German Expressionism.

To celebrate Halloween, the San Francisco Symphony will screen the classic silent film with live improvised organ accompaniment by Cameron Carpenter.

This special concert screening will include the equally strange short, The Cameraman’s Revenge (1912), an early stop-motion film by Wladyslaw Starewicz about life and love among a group of beetles.

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In the 1920s and 1930s, Jim Tully was a celebrity.

He was a writer. And his writings — a singular brand of rough and tumble fiction and non-fiction — were both popular and critically acclaimed. In his day, Tully’s books appeared on bestseller lists, were adapted for the stage, made into movies, and got reviewed and discussed in major publications across the country. One of his most controversial books was even banned, and a large part of its first edition destroyed. The essayist and editor H.L. Mencken wrote, “If Tully were a Russian, read in translation, all the Professors would be hymning him.”


Despite his celebrity, few today have heard of Tully. In the years following WWII, his reputation waned — but not because he was considered out-of-date. If anything, Tully was years ahead of his time. Some consider Tully a precursor to the “hard-boiled” school. In the 1920s, Tully wasn’t writing about the glitz and glamor of the Jazz Age like F. Scott Fitzgerald. Rather, his sinuous and sometimes muscular prose concerned petty criminals, addicts, hobos and other misfits of society. Charles Willeford, one of the leading hard-boiled crime fiction writers of the post WWII era, has praised Tully and written of his influence.

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Few realize there was a time nearly a century ago when the San Francisco Bay Area almost become a second Hollywood. Then, the Bay Area’s best hope in rivaling the film colony only just developing in Southern California lay with the California Motion Picture Corporation (CMPC), which was based in San Rafael.

In the coming week, Bay Area movie goers will have the rare opportunity to see a film widely considered one of the most emblematic of the Bay Area’s long-forgotten movie making past.

On Saturday, September 22 the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in Fremont will screen Salomy Jane (1914), the first, most acclaimed, and only surviving production of the California Motion Picture Corporation. Salomy Jane will also be shown on Sunday, September 30 at the Rafael Film Center in San Rafael. The two screenings mark only the second time the film has been shown in the Bay Area in the nearly 100 years since it was made.

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The fall promises to be a great season for books about the movies and movie stars. Three of the most insightful critics writing today — David Thomson, David Denby and Ty Burr — each have new books coming out, as does one of our most accomplished film historians, Anthony Slide.

The Fall 2012 Season will also see a handful of promising biographies and biographical studies on the likes of Henry Fonda, Lyle Talbot and Lew Ayres, along with more broadly themed works of film history. Women also come in for consideration, and reconsideration, with exceptional new books on two early film superstars, Mary Pickford — “America’s Sweetheart,” and Mae Murray — “the girl with the bee-stung lips.”

These days, university presses are publishing some of the best and most provocative books on film and film history. Don’t miss Go West, Young Women!: The Rise of Early Hollywood by Hilary Hallett, due out in December from the University of California Press.

Besides the ten recommended titles which follow, there are other new releases also worth checking out, like Variety: An Illustrated History of the World from the Most Important Magazine in Hollywood, by Tim Gray (Rizzoli), and John Wayne: The Legend and the Man: An Exclusive Look Inside the Duke’s Archives(powerHouse Books). Oh, and Uggie (the canine star of The Artist) also has a book due in October. It’s Uggie — My Story: A Memoir by Uggie (Gallery Books).

Seen the movies? Now read the books. Here’s a guide, ordered by date-of-release, to the big new releases and lesser-known titles which should pique the interest of film buffs and book lovers alike.

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In the early 1920s, Baby Peggy was the toast of New York. After having co-starred in numerous short comedies – including many with a canine star named Brownie the Wonder Dog, the diminutive actress was set to star in her first feature film, The Darling of New York (1923).

The Darling of New York (1923)

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The story of Baby Peggy is a Hollywood fairy tale gone wrong.

It’s a story of worldwide fame, a fortune stolen, a trust broken, and a childhood lost. It’s an epic story of a pint-sized movie star who conquered the world only to lose it all. It’s the story of Diana Serra Cary, survivor extraordinaire. In the 1920s, she was known as Baby Peggy. Today, she’s widely considered the last surviving silent film star.

If you don’t know her name, you’re not alone. Baby Peggy’s film career ended some 85 years ago. Today, the 93-year-old and still sprightly former actress is largely known only to devotees of film history and early Hollywood.

How famous was she? At the age of five Baby Peggy was signed to a million dollar contract by Universal. That was big money back in the 1920s, and still is today.

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