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"Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu" is an exceptionally well-crafted and
emotionally moving documentary. It is one of the best film
documentaries I have ever seen. Barry Paris (author of the definitive
biography of the actress) has written a masterful, sympathetic script.
And director Hugh Munro Neely has fashioned a well-researched, balanced
and finely documented study of this 20th century icon.
Louise Brooks (1906 1985) was incredibly photogenic some have claimed her to be one of the most beautiful actresses of all time. The many photographic images shown in this film highlight Brooks' life and career as a girl growing up in small-town Kansas, as a Denishawn dancer (she danced alongside Martha Graham!), as a showgirl with the Ziegfeld Follies in 1920's New York, as a bobbed-hair flapper in a handful of American silent films, as Lulu - an innocent femme fatale murdered by Jack the Ripper in her most famous film - the now classic German production Pandora's Box, and later in life, as an essayist and author of the bestselling book, "Lulu in Hollywood."
"Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu" features numerous film clips some of them rare, including Brooks' first appearance in a movie, her first part in a talkie, and her last film, a low budget Western with John Wayne. There are also excerpts from an on-screen interview with the actress conducted later in her life. The film is narrated by Shirley MacLaine (herself a big Brooks fan), and features interviews with actor Francis Lederer, (Brooks' co-star in Pandora's Box), actor Roddy McDowell (a longtime admirer and friend), actress Dana Delany (another fan of the actress), and others who knew Brooks throughout her life. These interviews are well chosen, and help tell the story of her "life, death, and resurrection."
Perhaps the only criticism one could offer is that "Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu" is not long enough! (Pretty much everyone who has seen this film wishes for more.) Another twenty or thirty minutes spent exploring Brooks' time in Europe, her decades of obscurity, her rediscovery, and the cult which has grown up around her would be welcome. Otherwise, this film is highly recommended for anyone interested in Louise Brooks in particular or film history in general.