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Of Brooks, Bacall, And Seberg (And The Men Who Invented Them)


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Forgive the following rant, but I have thinking about this a lot lately...


No one could create Louise Brooks, just like no one could create Pabst's 'Lulu'.

















Pabst's 'Lulu' had to be real, had to exist, and had to do so naturally; unaware.


















Louise Brooks is not a Pabst invention, and neither is her performance in Pandora's Box. What Pabst did, quite simply, was find his 'Lulu'. The film itself is pure invention, Pabst used psychology as his weapon and his intellect as his charm. He pinned actors against each other, he favored one actor on Monday only to dismiss him by Tuesday. Pabst created the purest form of realism possible. By exposing his actor's insecurities, hiding the plot from them, and initiating mind games with every member of the cast on and off set. Pabst loved chess. His love of chess is evident in Pandora's Box. Pandora's Box is his 'check-mate'.









So. No. Pabst did not create Lousie Brooks. Pabst made Lousie Brooks what she is today; an ultimately tragic relic of a bygone age. I cannot believe how astonishingly perfect Pandora's Box was concieved. Pabst is a true nobleman of the cinema for a number of reasons, my confidence will never sway in that regaurd.









Pabst made the perfect film. A rarity, a pleasure, and a true art. His direction, the key to the enigma, only comes out of its perpetual hiding after a few viewings. It is Louise Brooks, and only Louise Brooks, that your eyes and heart feast on during the first time you watch Pandora's Box. Brooks was the most enchanting, dazzling, and transcendental of the silent screen goddesses. In the scene where Shon's is caught making love to her by his fiance and his son, Brooks delivers the greatest facial expression ever captured on film. An act of dominance and sexual achievement. A grin that is truly timeless, as if she's staring through time and space, testing your wildest urges, daring you to love her, and begging you to beg to forget it.









Although Brooks didn't know then, or even cared to know at the time, soon she would have Pabst all figured out. She realized that the greatest performance of her career, and one of the most legendary inall of cinema, was not a performance at all, it wasn't even acting. It was her. It was documentary. I was real.









Perhaps the greatest invention belonging to G. W. Pabst was the invention of truth. Things look different when they are being filmed, it is a natural reaction to put on on an act of sort when one knows he or she is being watched.









Pabst bypassed that fault in cinematic realism and created reality. Untouched by fabled hands, pure and innocent, L. Brooks. Arguably, Pabst is the only director who has ever accomplished such a remarkable feat.









Lauren Bacall's very first line in her very first film was a question directed to her future husband: "Anybody Got a Match"?









And with that, she stole my heart.









Lauren Bacall is the female embodiment of Film Noir. Howard Hawks knew how great she was, having stumbled upon such an alluring and intoxicating beauty. The Big Sleep is a masterpeice, and unquestionably, it is the best work both Bacall and Hawks have ever done.









On the other hand, the earlier film To Have And Have Not is a remarkable achievement in its own right. The story was predicatble, the novel it was based on was horrible, and the direction was invisible. But what happened behind the scenes was of a wholly remarkable importance. Much to Hawks' dismay, his leading lady and his leading man were falling in love. Much to Hawks' dismay, with To Have And Have Not, he had documented and recorded the real life act of falling in love. The chemistry between Bogie and Bacall is what makes To Have And Have Not a legitimate classic. Laced in every cigarette rests what Pabst would call 'truth'. When you watch To Have And Have Not, you are watching two people fall in love with each other. This is what makes To Have And Have Not one of a kind, this is what makes the film incredible.









The chemistry between Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall is red hot and livelier than ever when the lovebirds are reuinited with accidental matchmaker, director Howard Hawks, in what has been recently acknowledged as the finest film noir ever made. The Big Sleep is the pinnacle of Film Noir, and the crowning achievement of the genre. Dassin may have made more tragic Noir, and Preminger may have made more dominant Noir, but the holy trinity; that is Hawks, Bogie, and Bacall made Film Noir. Convoluted and twisted, violent and panoramic, the Big Sleep is the most adhesive representation of what Film Noir represented. But I think it was the chemistry between Bogie and Bacall, equalled by the jealousy of Hawks, that made the Big Sleep the giant it is today. In stark contrast to Bogie and Bacall's romantic and playful chemistry, what Hawks and Bacall had was rooted in negativity and sexual misfires. Bacall's refusal of Hawks, and eventual marraige to Bogart must have brewed animosity in Hawks' domineering and womanizing brain. I'm not implyig that the chemistry was hateful, at least not exactly, I am suggesting that them were feelings of bitterness and notably, rejection.









Howard Hawks make a star out of Lauren Bacall, and in return, she made a two-bit loser out of him. Together they made the Big Sleep, together they not only reached perfection, they gave it a new name: Warner Bros.









The way that Otto Preminger photographed Jean Seberg is criminally dismissed and horribly overlooked, but it was nothing if not heavenly, reminiscent of Pabst directing his 'Lulu', and loving in every conflicting way.









Preminger tried to make a famous actor out of her, and she tried to make a husband out of him. Niether party got their wish.









But they did make two extraordinary pictures together: Saint Joan and Bonjour Tristesse. Francois Truffaut once wrote that Bonjour Tristesse was Otto Preminger's love poem to Jean Seberg, and nothing could be more accurate than that. Although Preminger may have been a tyranical both on and off the set, he made his wife look like the most beautiful creature in the world. I hope Seberg realized the quality of the gift his husband made for her. He truly did love her. and as the film suggests, more than anyone could ever love anything.









Of Lousie Brooks. Of Lauren Bacall. Of Jean Seberg. Of Anna Karina. Of Deneuve. Of Gish. And of the men who created them.









One can assume, faithfully, that for a pairing of actress and director to truly become legendary, two things need to happen:









1. The actress must trust her director fully, completely, and with all her heart.









2. The director, in return, must brand her a liar.


Edited by: TheManWhoLaughs on Mar 28, 2012 8:39 PM

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While The Big Sleep is one of my top 10 favorite movies I wouldn't say it is the pinnacle of Film Noir.


The main reason would because of the love story between Marlow and Vivian. In the book Marlow has an affair with Eddie Mars wife. That creates a lot more tension and is more true to film noir than the romance Hawks creates. Hey, I clearly understand why Hawks pushed the BB romance in the movie after all the smoke they created in 'To Have'. Being a romantic I love that and it really works but it does distract from the noir element of the plot. An ending where Marlow is making love to the wife of the guy he helps get killed would of left many unanswered questions (i.e. did Marlow kill Mars for the Sternwoods justice or for his own goals).


Not sure I understand this line: ',,,she made a two-bit loser out of him'. This this relate to the fact that Hawks wanted an affair with Bacall but instead she went with Bogie?


Oh, and To Have and Have Not was based on a short story not a novel. The Breaking Point is a better version of that story, but again, 'To Have' like The Big Sleep are classics because of how they blend romance with action.



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