Louise Brooks in Diary of a Lost Girl (1929)

by | Nov 12, 2006 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Louise Brooks in Diary of a Lost Girl (1929)

Directed by G. W. Pabst
Studio: Kino Video K225
Video: 4:3 full frame, B&W
Audio: PCM stereo
Extras: 1930 Hollywood short film with Brooks, “Windy Riley Goes Hollywood”
Length: 116 min., 18 min.
Rating: ****

A must-have for any Louise Brooks fan, this feature was made the year after her big hit Pandora’s Box, with the same director, Pabst. She plays the innocent daughter of a prosperous pharmacist who is made pregnant by a young assistant in the pharmacy. She is sent to a repressive reform school from which she escapes and, homeless, ends up in a brothel where she eventually cuts loose, living for the moment. A relationship with a similarly outcast young noble man ends with his suicide. His father regrets his actions and takes the lost girl under his wing, marrying her. The couple later visit the reform school – a charity which the wealthy husband has supported – and the dramatic closing scene ensues.

The transfer is good; Pabst really knew how to shoot Brooks – often considered the most beautiful actress of the silents –  to emphasize her beauty and personality. (About nine minutes of previously censored footage has been restored to the film. It shows more scratches and damage than the rest of the film.)  What a difference in the short made the next year in Hollywood, which has a lame script and poor acting.  It takes place around a Hollywood studio, thus cutting costs on sets and locations. This was the early period of the talkies, so things are very stilted as actors needed to get near the hidden mikes to be heard properly.  And Brooks’ voice seems to be in that special category of silent movie actors whose careers turned down quickly when audiences got to hear what they really sounded like. Plus the director had  no idea how to photograph Brooks in an appealing sexy manner.  And that director was actually Fatty Arbuckle, working under a pseudonym after his unfortunate sex scandal.

 – John Sunier

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