Louise Brooks film screens at Andy Warhol Museum

October 30, 2012

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.

Beggars of Life (1928), starring Louise Brookscredit: Louise Brooks Society

Beggars of Life (1928), starring Louise Brooks
credit: Louise Brooks Society

Directed by William Wellman the year after he made Wings (the first film to win an Academy Award), Beggars of Life is a gripping drama about a girl (played by Brooks) dressed as a boy who flees the law after killing her abusive stepfather. On the run, she rides the rails through a male dominated hobo underworld in which danger is always close at hand. Wallace Berry and Richard Arlen also star.

In its review, the New York Morning Telegraph wrote, “Louise Brooks, in a complete departure from the pert flapper that it has been her wont to portray, here definitely places herself on the map as a fine actress. Her characterizations, drawn with the utmost simplicity, is genuinely affecting.”

Quinn Martin of the New York World added, “Here we have Louise Brooks, that handsome brunette, playing the part of a fugitive from justice, and playing as if she meant it, and with a certain impressive authority and manner. This is the best acting this remarkable young woman has done.”

Beggars of Life features Brooks’ best acting and proved to be her best film prior to heading off to Germany to star in Pandora’s Box and Diary of a Lost Girl (both 1929). It is on those two films, each directed by G.W. Pabst, that Brooks’ iconic reputation rests.

For this special screening, the Warhol Museum continues its partnership with the George Eastman House, the world-renowned photograph and motion picture archive in Rochester, New York. The screening is part of a series of seldom shown classic films, “Unseen Treasures from The George Eastman House.

The Beggars of Life screening marks the second time the Warhol Museum has partnered with the Eastman House to show a Brooks’ film in Pittsburgh. Back in December of 2008, the Warhol Museum screened the 1930 Brooks’ film, Prix de Beauté.

This article originally appeared at http://www.examiner.com/video/louise-brooks-film-screens-at-andy-warhol-museum


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