The Weekend Australian - Review - - Essay - Tim Dou­glas The Week­end Aus­tralian Re­view

They re­ally don’t make film stars like Louise Brooks any more. And I’m not just say­ing that be­cause I have been fas­ci­nated by the silent film star’s life and ca­reer since my teen years. Yet not even the arm­fuls of Brooks books that lit­ter my book­shelves, or the pho­to­graphs of the star that adorn my home’s walls (my chil­dren think she is a long-lost rel­a­tive) seem to shed any light on what was re­ally go­ing on be­hind those fa­mously mourn­ful eyes. Philippa Hawker’s cover story to­day (Pages 8-9) on the film siren whose star was con­firmed with GW Pabst’s Pan­dora’s Box in 1929 re­veals more in two pages than I have learned in my 20 years of search­ing. Brooks en­dured a tough child­hood, rose to early fame and was spat out by Hol­ly­wood at the dawn of the talkie, yet she re­mains one of the most en­dur­ing sym­bols in film history. The depths of her legacy, in­clud­ing in this coun­try, are as­ton­ish­ing. Brooks never acted in an Al­fred Hitch­cock film, but just months af­ter Pan­dora’s Box was re­leased the Bri­tish film­maker broke out of the silent mould and made his first talk­ing mo­tion pic­ture. Black­mail, star­ring Anny On­dra and John Long­den, would change the course of Hitch’s oeu­vre. The film is be­ing shown in Syd­ney as part of a fes­ti­val of Hitch­cock movies start­ing next week at the NSW State Li­brary. Tak­ing place over four Sun­days, it will in­clude screen­ings of Mur­der!, No­to­ri­ous and For­eign Cor­re­spon­dent, a favourite of this news­pa­per’s re­doubtable for­mer film critic Evan Wil­liams. With a ca­reer span­ning more than 50 years in stage and screen (not to men­tion jour­nal­ism and au­thor­ship), this or­gan’s tele­vi­sion writer Graeme Blun­dell is with­out peer in the Aus­tralian arts in­dus­try. To read his first-hand rec­ol­lec­tions of the found­ing of La Mama, one of this coun­try’s proud­est the­atri­cal in­sti­tu­tions, in Mel­bourne in the 1960s is to be trans­ported back in time. Ash­leigh Wil­son’s ac­com­pa­ny­ing fea­ture (Pages 6-7) on the in­sti­tu­tion’s 50th an­niver­sary next week re­minds us, too, of the great names — Blanchett, Wil­liamson, Nowra, any­one? — whose ca­reers were launched from the com­pany’s tiny stage in in­ner-city Carl­ton. Happy birthday, La Mama. Many happy box­of­fice re­turns. Face­book: @the­week­endaus­tralian­re­view Twit­ter: @TimDou­glas_Aus In­sta­gram: @Re­view_Aus­tralian

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