Louise Brooks from A to Z: P for Pandora's Box, Prix de Beaute, Pascal, Paris and, of course, Pepi

I know Pepi Lederer was listed last in the title but she should definitely come first, because she was Louise's best friend.  After reading the things that Louise has written about Pepi, she sounds like she was an entirely exuberant human being, full of life, quick as a whip and constantly seeking pleasure.  The two met at Hearst Castle, as Pepi was Marion Davies' niece, and it was as a result of Pepi that Louise stayed in San Simeon long after her husband, Eddie Sutherland, left out of boredom. Pepi was the joy of the property, indulging in all kinds of mischief and supplying those privileged enough to be accepted into her group (the "younger degeneration" as Marion called them) with unmonitored liquor from her own personal bootlegger (drinking at San Simeon was strictly rationed by Hearst). Pepi used to say of Louise that "Louise brooks no restraint," (Paris, 239) Pepi was also madly in love with Louise, and upon asking her if they could fool around, Louise responded with a friendly casualness, saying, "Okay, if it's anything you're going to get some great enjoyment out of, go ahead." Platonic exploration aside, the two remained incredibly close until Pepi's suicide in 1935, which was brought on by hospitalization for a cocaine addiction that had gotten out of hand.  Louise was devastated, and managed to rehash their friendship and Pepi's brilliance in one of her best essays, entitled Marion Davies' Niece.  She would also speak of Pepi to her brother in a letter years later, saying that a mention of her had made her realize that she'd been thinking of her every day of her life without having noticed. To get the full story, definitely read Marion Davies' Niece, which can be found in Lulu in Hollywood

 Louise Brooks in a still for  Pandora's Box  (1929)

Louise Brooks in a still for Pandora's Box (1929)

Pandora's Box was the film that completely altered Louise's career and place in history.  The film was made in 1929, shot in Berlin, Germany, and directed by GW Pabst.  Brook's left her Hollywood home and Paramount to make this film, unwittingly sealing her fate in more ways than one.  Her character, Lulu, had a huge influence on Brooks' life and later writings, which is more than proven by her constant drawing of parallels between their respective lives and her titling her book Lulu in Hollywood.  There are SO many things to be said about this film, I could write an entire thesis on it (and I am, sort of). I will direct you to both Lulu in Hollywood, written by Louise herself, and Louise Brooks, written by Barry Paris, or her journals for further reading on this loaded and intricate topic.

 Louise Brooks in  Prix de Beaute  (1930)

Louise Brooks in Prix de Beaute (1930)

Prix de Beaute is a film that Louise made in Paris in 1930.  The film was supposed to be directed by Rene Clair, the famed French director, however he had trouble with production and so the film was ultimately directed by Augusto Genina.  The film itself follows the life of a young woman, Lucienne, who wins a beauty contest and finds this disagreeable to her fiance, who is jealous and abusive.  Genina later wrote an autobiography in which he spoke of Louise's notorious alcoholism on and off the set.  As far as I know, Brooks declared it all to be false.  However, I have been told that she was not often able to open up about her alcoholism and perhaps was in denial.  

 Louise Brooks in  Prix de Beaute  (1930)

Louise Brooks in Prix de Beaute (1930)

 Louise Brooks in  Prix de Beaute

Louise Brooks in Prix de Beaute

Blaise Pascal was a famed mathematician, scientist and philosopher, and has a special place in Louise's life thanks to a book of his works, called Pensees, that she was gifted by Robert Benchley.  Inside it, he inscribed the message "From Blaise Benchley to Blaise Brooks." (Paris, 408) 

Paris is where Louise listed as her favorite place to have lived.  She attributed this, later in life, to the fact that she didn't speak French and therefore didn't have to communicate with anyone while she was working on sets.

 

Charlotte Siller