Thursday, September 3, 2009
Pandora's Box (GW Pabst) ****
Director: GW Pabst
Cast: Louise Brooks, Fritz Kortner, Francis Lederer, Alice Roberts, Gustav Diessl
Background: GW Pabst wanted Louise Brooks for the main role ever since seeing her in A Girl In Every Port. He actually had Marlene Dietrich in his office waiting to sign for the role until getting word from Brooks at the last minute that she was willing to do it.
Story: Lulu (Brooks) is a woman with a special gift at drawing the attention of men, but this causes problems for her when the men are driven to violence and other nefarious deeds.
Thoughts: This is a remarkable film that fully utilizes Louise Brooks' captivating screen presence. It's refreshing to see a movie this old be so openly daring about sexual issues. The casting of Louise Brooks is important because she has the ability to combine innocence and sexuality in a way that Marlene Dietrich probably couldn't have accomplished. With Dietrich, the character would have appeared to be too sinister. But Pabst isn't interested in judging Lulu, despite what a cursory glance at the plot may lead you to believe. Instead, he's taking aim at a sexist society that judges such women. The male characters certainly don't come off any better throughout the film. The movie even includes what film historians consider the very first lesbian character, and it's fitting with the theme of the movie that it is the most positively portrayed relationship in the whole movie (albeit that's not saying much). Two years removed from the storytelling issues found in The Love of Jeanne Ney, Pabst gives us a character worth caring about and comes up with a brilliant ending as the final few scenes are absolutely stunning.
Postscript: This film would be the defining role for Louise Brooks. The role would be so iconic that the hairdo she wore in it is still called a "Lulu" today. Brooks would quit acting by the end of the next decade, while Pabst would continue his successful directing career through the 50's.
Posted by Larry McGillicuddy at 11:10 PM