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Pandora's Box Movie Review

lulu pabst brooks schon

Pandora's Box stars the late great Louise Brooks as Lulu and Francis Lederer (still alive well into his 90s, nearly 70 years after he co-starred opposite Brooks) as Alva Schon. In 1925's Joyless Street, G.W. Pabst revealed a Germany of harsh extremes: decadent jazz clubs near food lines where people wait hours at a time for a piece of butcher's meat. Innocent Lulu lives in the ugly world of 1928, but she cannot understand how she unwittingly contributes to that world. She loves guys of all sizes, shapes, and ages, except that sometimes they get mad at her and turn on her and then she gets into a whale of a lot of trouble. Like Dr. Ludwig Schon, who starts acting like he's too good for her once he gets engaged to another woman. And when he shows up with the other woman at Lulu's revue on opening night, what girl wouldn't get mad and refuse to go on with the show until she'd gotten even? And then, after she'd worked the angles so that Dr. Schon had to marry her, it wasn't her fault if he got mad at her for flirting with a Countess or for fooling around with her old pals before her wedding night. The world believes that Lulu is a femme fatale, dragging every man down to her level, but Lulu is her own greatest victim, representing much too much to much too many. Like every great director, Pabst exploited the actor's feelings toward each other to their onscreen advantage. He seduced a striking lesbian performance out of Alice Roberts as the Countess; he used Brooks’ attraction to Gustav Diesl as Jack the Ripper to inject poignance into their brief but vivid moments together. And Fritz Kortner's real-life dislike of Brooks was ideal for Dr. Schon's obsessive hatred of Lulu. In her beautifully written reminiscences of working with Pabst, Brooks frankly admits that she never thought of herself as much of an actress. But her flickering image remains powerful today. And Pandora's Box yields a legion of treasures for first-time viewers and for longtime admirers who've memorized every frame of Pabst's masterpiece. AKA: Die Buechse der Pandora; Lulu.

1928 110m/B GE Louise Brooks, Fritz Kortner, Francis Lederer, Carl Goetz, Alice Roberts, Gustav Diesl; D: G.W. Pabst; W: G.W. Pabst; C: Gunther Krampf. VHS

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