Diary of a Lost Girl movie review (1929)

Last Updated on 2022-05-19 Nicole
movie review

When they were leaving the world premiere of G. W. Pabst's film "Pandora's Box"(1928), Louise Brooks could hear her name in the crowd around her, but she didn't like the tone they were using. Pabst asked her what she was hearing. He translated: "She doesn't act. She doesn't do anything."This perhaps delighted the great German director, who also chose Brooks to star in his next film, "The Diary of a Lost Girl"(1929).

In herautobiographyLulu in Hollywood, one of the most charming and honest books about the movies ever written, Brooks says Pabst refused to discuss the details of performance with her and never held group discussions with his actors: "He wanted the shocks of life to release unpredictable emotions.He did not encourage actors to get along with each other. "Every actor has a natural animosity toward every other actor, present or absent, living or dead,"she writes, and Pabst used that tension to enhance the emotions in a scene. Another story she tells. Brooks is seen wearing nightgowns or thin evening dresses while she dances with an actor in scenes of their film. He forbid Brooks from wearing anything underneath them. "No one will know,"she told him. "The actor will know,"he said.

In not acting, in "doing nothing,"Louise Brooks became one of the most modern and effective actors, projecting a presence that could be startling. Brooks might still inspire deep affection among those who are familiar with the films. She is so simple, so direct,sothere. Watching her fourth-billed in "The Show-Off"(1926), I watched her effortlessly steal every scene she was in. All the others were present in front of camera. It was clear that she was actually there.

I don't mean to suggest that in "not acting"Brooks was wooden or robotic. It was clear that she expressed sadness, joy, excitement, and fear. She suggested an uncommon degree of self-possession. While others may act out joy in a happy scene with her, her response would be to see it and recognize it. As an actress, her job was not to guide us as we react. To observe it in its realness.

She didn't like fancy hairstyles. Vidal Sassoon gave her that pageboy cut 25 years later. Her eyebrows were straight and strong. They weren't like her contemporaries' wavy arches. Her physique was so slim and toned that she looked ready to fly. Her best movies were filled with extraordinary events. Instead of reacting visibly and telegraphing her emotions, she was the one who transmitted them. Unusual levels of identification are encouraged by her.

She was one of the most well-known film stars by 1928. But she had grown tired of Hollywood and was too intelligent to be happy with the treatment she received from the industry. Pabst brought her to Berlin because he was fed up with overeager actresses. He had previously worked in 1925 alongside Greta Garbo (a more reserved performer). They made two of the most important silent movies together. They were both scandalous for their portrayals of lesbianism and prostitution, and after returning to Hollywood she offended the sensibilities of a company town by turning down the lead in "Public Enemy"opposite James Cagney. She made several unsuccessful films in the 1930s, and then, she writes in her book, "I found that the only well-paying career open to me, as an unsuccessful actress of thirty-six, was that of a call girl.William S. Paley was one of her clients and sent her checks every month throughout her life.

She was rediscovered by French film critics. They were, as usual, ten years ahead of Americans in telling them what the best movies are. In its article, Wikipedia quotes Henri Langois, founder of the Cinematheque François and the great influence of the auteur school: "There is no Garbo, there is no Dietrich, there is only Louise Brooks!It is known that James Card (film curator at George Eastman House) met her in New York in late 1950s and bonded with her. He brought her to Rochester and encouraged her writing. in Hollywood, She launched her second career. He found her "living as a recluse,"Wikipedia says, but because of Paley's loyalty, she was not precisely on Skid Row. A veteran film publicist named John Springer told me: "At a dinner party at my house one night, Card said he would give anything to find Louise Brooks. I told him he might not have to look too hard: She had the apartment across the hall."

"Diary of a Lost Girl"was the close of her glory days. It's not the equal of "Pandora's Box,"but her performance is on the same high level. This film has an honesty that was lost in mainstream cinemas after the advent of censorship. Thymian is the innocent, young girl she plays on her First Communion day. Her family lives above her father's drug shop, managed by Meinert (Fritz Rasp is a cruel actor with a sad face and cruel smile). Her father makes her pregnant and throws her out of the house. Meta, the next maid observes how easily the father seduces women and does it efficiently.

Thymian is feeling isolated at home while her father Meta and Meta create a new family. She becomes pregnant by Meinert, and the scandal is too great for the bourgeois family; after her child's birth Thymian is sent to a cruel "reformatory"run by a sadistic lesbian taskmaster of a woman and her towering, shaven-headed husband. She runs away from her family with another girl and ends up in a whorehouse. There, the madam of grandmother makes clear Thymian’s new duties.

One client is Count Osdorff. He's an old friend and wastrel who makes halfhearted efforts to assist the girl. Osrorff’s rich uncle marries Thymian. She is now a member of the Society for the Rescue of Endangered Female Youth. Thymian attempts reformer roles, but ultimately, the Society visits the whorehouse.

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