Louise Brooks from A to Z: L for Langlois, Lotte, "Louder, Please", London, Lulu in Berlin, and Lolita
Henri Langlois is famous for having said "There is no Garbo. There is no Dietrich. There is only Louise Brooks!" He proved his sentiments by homaging Brooks in Paris in 1958 at the Cinémathèque Française, which he founded and ran with Chief Archivist, Lotte Eisner. He and James Card shared an infatuation with Brooks and her work that was perhaps never surpassed by any other admirers. There are several stories about his keeping Louise in Paris despite her refusal to leave her hotel room; however, it was in that hotel room that she met one of the dearest friends she would ever have.
Lotte Eisner was one hell of a woman. Aside from being Chief Archivist of the Cinémathèque Française, which is enough of a feat in and of itself. she is also credited with having survived WWII in a concentration camp after having been caught in Paris where she fled to from her native Berlin so as to keep writing about film. Not only is she a woman made of steel and determination, her writing is so engaging and descriptive that she brings the old Weimar films to life in a brand new light, casting a new chiaroscuro picture before the eyes of the reader. Louise saw the beauty of her soul and her talent, and she describes her humorous meeting with her with an intimate fondness: "The first day, she came into my room, gave me a hard look and said "I do not like women." Perhaps she was concerned about the stories of my being a lesbian. At any rate, she made me laugh so much that she too laughed with the joyful laugh of a child, which made us friends forever. She brought me back bread and swiss cheese and yellow apples; I gave her coffee and American chocolate bars. Then we would talk about people and films, but mostly about books- Proust, Goethe, Tolstoy, Dickens, Samuel Johson, Ring Lardner. Lotte seemed to have read every genius in every language, and Louise got an education...She became the best friend and the finest person I have ever known...Another time Henri was laughing because I would go nowhere without Lotte. 'We are very happy,' I said. 'Two old maids together."' One of my favorite Louise and Lotte moments is when Louise wrote to Jan Wahl that she had purchased special teacups for Lotte when she visited in Rochester and that she would stay on the couch while Lotte stayed in her bed. Lotte Eisner also wrote extensively about Brooks' performances in GW Pabst's films, and I recommend reading The Haunted Screen, one of her more well known books on Weimar Cinema, in which she speaks about Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl. Her words on Louise are equally as touching; they appear to have been soul mates, so thank God for her laziness and Henri's feeling the need to have Lotte entertain her in that lonely hotel room.
Louder, Please was the name of a play written by Norman Krasna that Louise performed in as a lead ingenue character. The play itself was about Hollywood and a publicity office, and everyone runs around shouting "Publicity!" Louise took this job while she was being kept in New York by George Marshall. She was fired 12 days before the show's Broadway opening, shortly before her 25th birthday.
London was a place that Louise traveled to with her friend, Barbara Bennett, who had to go there to attend a school. As soon as they got there, Bennett decided she wanted to go home, but Louise, ever-brave and adventurous, decided to stay on and try it out. This choice led to her being known as the first person to dance the Charleston in London at the Cafe de Paris, where she proved to be a big hit. She would return home broke to New York some time later to blaze new trails.
Lulu in Berlin was a documentary film in which Richard Leacock interviewed Louise about her time in Germany and in Hollywood. It's very interesting and I recommend watching all four parts of it on youtube and, if you can get your hands on it, seeing the complete version through the Criterion Collection.
Lolita might have been one of Louise's favorite books, and it sealed her unending love for Nabokov, who is a genius. Lolita is a "wildly funny" book and it's beautifully written, composed of dark perversity and helpless love through an unavoidable natural impulse of Humbert Humbert. Brooks claims to have already written Lolita when she wrote her original autobiography, saying that even the most degenerate people couldn't read her life "from 7 to 17." To read more about this and all of the various connections she made between her life and Lolita, even in regards to her relationship with James Card, I recommend reading the indispensable book by Jan Wahl called Dear Stinkpot, which contains their correspondence during the period when she was relishing reading the novel.