Sunday, October 4, 2009

Beauty Prize (Augusto Genina) ***

Director: Augusto Genina

Cast: Louise Brooks, Georges Charlia, Augusto Bandini

Background: Fresh off her career defining turn in Pandora's Box, Louise Brooks makes her talkie (and singing) debut in a French language film. GW Pabst (director of Pandora's Box) and Rene Clair collaborated on the screenplay.

Story: Lucienne (Brooks) is a typist who decides to enter the Miss Europe beauty pageant. She wins and becomes an instant celebrity, much to the displeasure of her boyfriend.

Thoughts: Louise Brooks is always a welcome presence and her performance in Beauty Prize doesn't change that. She plays more of an innocent ingenue in this one, a departure from her most well known roles, but nothing new for her (see: Beggars of Life). It's pretty interesting to watch her get caught up in the world of being a celebrity and how that affects her relationship. It's am,using that her character is named Lucienne so people can call her Lulu (her famous character from Pandora's Box). My main quibble with the film is the story moves through the events in a fairly unimaginative fashion. She does this, then this, then that, and so on. It's just a little too plain for the film to be truly compelling, although the ending certainly does reach that status. Brooks carries this movie and makes it eminently watchable and seeing her sing for the first time is a delight.

Postscript: Louise Brooks returned to Hollywood, but would only make 6 more films. After her retirement, she was found working as a salesgirl at Saks 5th Avenue.

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