Sunday, September 25, 2016

Pandora’s Box (1929)

Lulu (Louise Brooks) is a promiscuous young woman in a relationship with an older, respected man. He must break off the scandalous relationship when he decides to marry his respectable fiancee. Lulu doesn’t play nicely and sabotages her lover’s respectable engagement. Things don’t go well for either.

Brooks was a nothing actress who walked out of her contract with Paramount to star in this Weimar silent film and became a huge star. The role of Lulu almost went to Marlene Dietrich, who had to settle on the role of Lola Lola to launch her career. Unlike Dietrich, who disingratiated herself with Hollywood over the next two decades, Brooks got it all done before the end of the 30s.

Lulu’s character is never in question. She’s a golddigger, woman of easy virtue, maybe prostitute. But she isn’t a bad person. But what strikes me most is her disconnect between her actions and their consequences to herself and others. Her friends, enchanted by her, follow the path to ruin to help her out. It’s all very tragic, but Lulu is the most tragic of all.

Had Pandora’s Box been a talkie, (like The Blue Angel), and had Brooks played nice a little better, she may be remembered as well as Dietrich is today. Maybe more. She had beauty and charisma and was set to explode in Hollywood’s golden era. Instead, she is principally known for this movie. But it’s quite a movie. She could have been so much more. AMRU 4.
“It's strange how you can get booze on credit but not bread.”

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