23 September 2013

Lulu or Lola?

      I think most classic films fans are familiar with G.W. Pabst's late 1920s movie, Die Büchse der Pandora (Pandora's Box). It immortalized Louise Brooks as an uninhibited, carefree erotic Lulu. But not as many know how close Marlene was to being forever remembered as Lulu, instead of Lola. Discover what I've found in Louise's biography by Barry Paris (which was itself based partly on "Lulu in Hollywood").

source: x

     The search for the actress who would be suitable to play the role of Lulu lasted for a long time. Paul Falkenberg, Pabst's assistant director, remembered that for months he had been presenting the great director with literally every possible candidate for the role, but he turned them all down.

     Eventually, it looked like the choice was made and the girl to play Lulu would be... 27-year-old Marlene. The legend has it that Dietrich was just about to sign a contract when a cable from Paramount (Brook's studio) came; it carried the information that Louise is available to play in Pandora's Box; the dark-haired flapper later realised that if she hadn't acted at once, her opportunity would have been lost.

     Everyone was shocked that Pabst has chosen an American do play Lulu. Many magazines ran it as a first-page story material, among them Film-Illustrierte and Neue Berliner. Some felt insulted that there wasn't even one German girl good enough to get the part. Others were already fascinated by the newcomer. Needless to say, Marlene was sure she would have been a better choice.

source: xx

      Why did it happen? Pabst was afraid that Dietrich would turn the movie into a "burlesque", considering her seductive manner. Louise Brooks later defended that opinion by saying that in the 1928, Marlene wasn't the sleek and sophisticated Hollywood siren, but rather the luscious starlet wrapped in satins, furs and beads... Plus Brooks was about five years younger, which was also of great importance.

     What do you think - was this really possible that Dietrich was considered to play in Pabst's movie?After all, most of film history is a great tale of who was to play/direct/produce what and why it has turned out otherwise... Anyway, could you imagine a different Lulu?


  1. Their lives crossed in several ways. MD left Germany, where she was under appreciated, to find true fame in the US and LB left the US, where she was under appreciated to find true fame in Europe.

  2. I have read about this before and honestly, I think the way it played out was for the best. Even if Dietrich had been better suited, it still would have meant a different path taken which might have lead to Dietrich never having found such extensive fame.

    They both found immortality in different ways, LB as the rebellious, legendary silent film star and Dietrich as Dietrich, recognisable by just her last name.