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Tag Archives: Silent Film

So, I’m not going to say outright that if you’ve seen Pandora’s Box that you’ve already seen Diary of a Lost Girl, but Lulu and Thymian are kind of like Laura Palmer and her cousin, Maddy. “I know that I’ve seen this girl before,” you’ll say to yourself, banging your forehead repeatedly against your Log Lady (TM) replica log. “I know it. I just know it!”

Like Pandora’s Box, Diary of a Lost Girl stars Louise Brooks and is directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst, and also like Pandora’s Box, the film explores women’s issues. First, these two movies draw attention to circumstances paired with social norms that could leave women totally screwed during the 20s. The main characters are both villanized and victimized because of their sexuality. But while in Pandora’s Box, Lulu’s sexuality becomes her downfall, in Diary of a Lost Girl, Thymian appears to have a growing sense of self and independence by the end of the movie.

Diary of a Lost Girl tells the classic tale of what happens when a young lady gets knocked up after being raped by a creepy turd of a pharmacist. Thymian’s family is all like, “Girl, you gotta marry you’s baby daddy,” and when Thymian is all like, “Uh. Dude, no,” they do the only logical thing: banish her to a vaguely homoerotic reform school for wayward girls. She makes friends, meets more creepy turds, and eventually escapes. From there, she lives the Jerri Blank mantra, “Go with what you know,” and takes up prostitution.

Diary of a Lost Girl seems quite a bit more sympathetic of its lead character than Pandora’s Box, since Thymian doesn’t become, you know, a murder victim. In a shack. On Christmas. But Thymian is also much more naive than Lulu, so perhaps that is her key to redemption.

The saddest thing about both of these already sad stories is their parallel to the actress’ life. Brooks was sexually abused as a child, and blamed for it by her mother, according to the actress. Playing roles like Lulu and Thymian doesn’t speak much to her own empowerment, but Brooks’ roles do bring issues of sexual assault, domination and punishment for female sexuality into the open – even if they were not intended to be viewed through a discerning feminist lens.

For me, the bottom line is that Brooks is incredible to watch in any movie. She will melt your heart, even while it’s breaking. I think that line may be from the back of a paperback novel. I also think that I don’t care.

Here’s what happens when Thymian first enters the reform school. Don’t worry; there is enough watery stew for everyone.

Diary of a Lost Girl, 1929
Starring: Louise Brooks, Fritz Rasp, André Roanne
Director: Georg Wilhelm Pabst

Diary of a Lost Girl mix contains:

1. I’m on Fire, Electrelane
2. Run Chicken Run, Link Wray
3. A Certain Girl, Ernie K-Doe
4. Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries / Al Bowlly & the New Cumberland Dance Orchestra
5. Preacher’s Theme, Spindrift
6. Creepy Phone Calls, Tobacco
7. Plastic Cans, Underwater Tea Party
8. I Had it Coming / White Rabbits
9. Deep Purple, Guy Lombardo
10. She Came Before Me, The Almighty Defenders
11. Dirt, Iggy Pop
12. Black Eyes / Pola Negri
13. Reckoner, Radiohead
14. Sailor Song, Regina Speltpr
15. Random Firl, Late of the Pier
16. Livin’ in Misery / Johnny Otis
17.  Kitty from Kansas City, Johnny Walker & His Rollickers
18. Pucker Up, Buttercup, Jr. Walker & the Allstars
19. Oh! Look at Me Now, Helen Forrest & Benny Goodman
20. Sullen Girl / Fiona Apple
21. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out, Sidney Bechet
22. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man after Midnight), ABBA
23. Creole Love Call, Adelaide Hall
24. Boogie Woogie Swing / Alberta Hunter
25. I’m Living in a Great Big Way / Benny Goodman
26. Soul of a Man, Blind Willie Johnson
27. Sluchaj Rytmu, Breakout
28. You’re Gonna Miss Me, 13th Floor Elevators
29. Block of Ice, Intelligence
30. L’ours / Tricot Machine
31. Kozmic Blues, Janis Joplin
32. Lindsay Brohan, Javelin
33. The Living End, Jesus & Mary Chain
34. Peach, Plum, Pear, Joanna Newsom
35. Bye, Bye, Blackbird, Joe Cocker

Stream mix here or watch part of it on Youtube.


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Fritz Lang’s Metropolis has just the right mixture of robots and revolution to be considered a treasure from the early years of film.  Lang’s dystopian vision of the future involves a privileged, prince-type character who ventures into the depths of a subterranean city populated by workers who can’t leave their machines.  Along the way, you meet the city’s architect, a mad scientist, a robot-witch, and a priestess who resembles a young Emma Goldman.

Metropolis, 1927
Starring: Gustav Fröhlich, Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel, Rudolf Klein-Rogge
Directed by: Fritz Lang
Why watch it: Before computers were invented, robots appear in this movie as part of the message that technology can be an instrument of control.  Lang may have been inspired by the burst of factories during the early 20th century, but this idea is more relevant than ever.  Also, with footage discovered in 2008, the restored version of this film is incredibly cohesive and poignant.

Metropolis Mix Contains:

1. I’m Coming Home / The Almighty Defenders
2. Look Up, Look Down That Lonesome Road / The Delmore Brothers
3. Clap Hands / Tom Waits
4. I Can’t Get Started with You, Bunny Berigan
5. Saint James Infirmary, Cab Calloway
6. Trouble in Mind / Fats Domino
7. Make Someone Happy, Jimmy Durante
8. Smokestack Lightning / The Yardbirds
9. Please Don’t Talk about Me When I’m Gome, Ethel Waters
10. Stupidity Tries, Elliott Smith
11. Doctor Jazz, Jelly Roll Morton & His Red Hot Peppers
12. Drugs / Black Lips
13. Blue Yodel No. 5, Gene Autry
14. Long Tall Sally, Little Richard
15. Time / David Bowie
16. Alone in Kyoto / Air
17. Peace in the Valley, Sister Rosetta Tharpe
18. Pearl’s Dream / Bat for Lashes
19. Stillness is the Move, The Dirty Projectors
20. Shout, Sister, Shout / The Boswell Sisters
21. Blue Horizon, Sidney Bechet
22. Red Reflection, Spindrift
23. You Gotta Move / Sister Rosetta Tharpe
24. Ace Coltrane, Spindrift
25.  Let’s Get it On, Marvin Gaye
26. (My Heart Goes) Piddly Patter Patter / Nappy Brown
27.  Neutron Dance, The Pointer Sisters
28. Jigsaw Falling into Place, Radiohead
29. Glory Box / Portishead
30. Speed Trials, Elliott Smith
31. My Little Underground, The Jesus & Mary Chain
32. Back Street / Dale Hawkins
33. Wildlife Sculpture, The Generationals
34. Left Hand Luke, T-Rex
35. Oh! Sweet Nothin’ / The Velvet Underground
36. Fire, RJD2
37. Wire to the Walls / RTB2
38. 2 Wicky, Hooverphonic
39. Mr. Grieves, The Pixies
40. I’ll Get By, Ruth Etting
41. Boogie Woogie Baby, The Delmore Brothers

Stream extended version here or view part of the mix on youtube.
Stream mix for the 124 minute cut here.

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Pandora’s Box follows the rise and fall of Lulu, a showgirl who goes into hiding after a murder accusation threatens to ruin her.  In this movie, anyone is corruptible, and Lulu is probably at the heart of that corruption.

Pandora’s Box, 1929
Starring: Louise Brooks, Fritz Kortner, Francis Lederer
Directed by: G. W. Pabst
Why to watch it: Louise Brooks is made of dynamite.  While the storyline forces her character into the role of an amoral hedonist, Brooks’ performance itself challenges this pigeonholing.

Pandora’s Box Playlist Contains:
1. You Better Change, Alberta Hunter
2. Let’s Have a Party / Amos Milburn
3. Maple Leaf Rag, Jelly Roll Morton
4. Well Well Well, Lucinda Williams
5. 12th Street Rag, Louis Armstrong & Jack Teagarden
6. The Flirt, Shirley & Lee
7. What is This Thing Called Love, Sidney Bechet
8. Lulu’s Back in Town, Fats Waller
9. Be Bop a Lula, Gene Vincent
10. Any Old Time, Helen Forrest & Artie Shaw
11. When They Fight, They Fight / The Generationals
12. Tain’t Nobody’s Business if I Do, Bessie Smith
13. Pennies from Heaven, Billie Holiday
14. Moi Je Joue, Brigitte Bardot
15. I Can’t Give You Anything but Love, Ethel Waters
16. Aba Daba Honeymoon, Helen Kane
17. Pitseleh, Elliott Smith
18. Frankie & Johnny, Ethel Waters
19. Careless Love Blues, Bessie Smith
20. Moanin’ Low, Billie Holiday
21. Sweet Adeline, Elliott Smith
22. Alligator Crawl, Fats Waller
23. Everybody Needs Somebody to Love, Solomon Burke
24. I Am Nothing, Nellie McKay
25. Nude, Radiohead
26. Any Old Actress, Rasputina
27. Smoke and Mirrors, RJD2
28. Drunken Hearted Man, Robert Johnson
29. Ten Cents a Dance, Ruth Etting
30. Que Sera Sera, Sly & the Family Stone
31. None of Us Are Free, Solomon Burke
32. Cause I Feel Low Down, Sophie Tucker
33. Anywhere I Lay My Head, Tom Waits
34. Ain’t Got Nobody to Grind my Coffee, Clara Smith
35. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out, LaVern Baker
36. Slim’s Return, Madlib
37. Mr. E. Leon Rauis, Rasputina
38. Mood Indigo, Sidney Bechet
39. The Sun ain’t Shining No More, The Asteroids Galaxy Tour

Stream mix here, or watch a selection of clips from the film/mix on youtube.

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