Monday, August 22, 2011

The Diary of a Lost Girl

In Diary of a Lost Girl, the one and only Louise Brooks plays Thymian Henning, the innocent and naive daughter of pharmacist Robert Henning. Thymian is seduced by her father's assistant Meinert (played by the same fellow who was The Thin Man in Metropolis) and gives birth to an illegitimate child. Meinert is revealed to be the father by an entry in Thymian's diary, and when she refuses to marry him she is forced to leave the baby with a midwife and sent to a strict reform school for wayward girls. Meanwhile, Thymian's father marries his housekeeper Meta, who becomes head of the household.

Rebelling against the school's rigid discipline, Thymian and her friend Erika escape with the help of her father's old friend, Count Osdorff, but they separate. Thymian's relief is short-lived—she discovers that her baby is dead—and after despondently wandering the streets, she re-unites with Erika, who is working in a brothel. Thymian also becomes a prostitute, but profits from her misfortune by gaining control of her own life. When her father dies, she inherits a large amount of money, after gaining "respectability" by marrying Osdorff, but gives it all to her young half-sister who has been disinherited.

Osdorff, who had been counting on the money because he himself had been disinherited by his uncle, kills himself. The uncle, grief-stricken, makes Thymian his heir. In a strange twist of fate, she becomes a director of the reform school where she herself was once held. When her old friend is brought in as an "especially difficult case" who "constantly turns away from the blessings of our home", Thymian denounces the school and its "blessings". Uncle Osdorff has the last word: "A little more love and no-one would be lost in this world."

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Bittersweet and tragic, February 12, 2003
By Emiliano Moreno (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Diary of a Lost Girl (DVD)
"Diary of a Lost Girl" (1929) shows us Louise Brooks at her best. It is the bittersweet tale of a young girl's loss of innocence. The new score by Joseph Turrin truly matches this sentimental film by G.W. Pabst , his second best known silent feature after "Pandora's Box" (1928). There are various close ups of Brooks which demonstrate that she was not only a talented actress, but a true vision of beauty. Her face is absolutely flawless. Buy this movie today on DVD, you will not regret it. The DVD also contains the eighteen minute movie short, " Windy Riley Goes to Hollywood", where one can hear Louise Brooks talk! This was directed by Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle under an assumed name. Arbuckle's life and career were devasted by a scandal in the early 1920's, he died not long after making this film short.
Also highly recommended is of course, "Pandora's Box" also starring the lovely Louise Brooks.

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh boy!!!!, October 28, 2001
By Ed N "Ed" (Kensington, Maryland USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Diary of a Lost Girl (DVD)
WOW!!! I never in my wildest dreams thought this silent film classic starring Louise Brooks was coming to DVD! I thought for sure Pandora's Box (Ms. Brooks' most famous film) would come first. And furthermore, I thought Criterion would be the company to release the film, but it looks like Kino's will have the honor. That's not bad, either - Kino's has a LOT of good foreign/silent/independent films, and I've always liked their VCR tapes, so I'm looking forward eagerly to Diary of a Lost Girl.
For those not in the know, Louise Brooks was the ultimate flapper girl of the 1920s. She was probably more famous for her haircut, beauty, and lifestyle than her films. But her film legacy is firmly established by two German films she made after leaving Hollywood briefly - Pandora's Box and Diary of a Lost Girl, both by G.W. Pabst (one of the legendary silent film directors). Both films, if you can find them, are absolute classics. The German expressionist style has rarely been more beautifully captured than in Pandora's Box (Hitchcock used this style too in a lot of his early black/white films). And I was lucky enough to find a beat-up VHS copy of Diary. If you like silent films, you can't go wrong with this film either! The imagery is stunning, Louise Brooks looks gorgeous and gives a moving performance a young lady who, having lost her virtue, is consequently shunned by society and has to learn to care for herself. I don't like to give away plots, so that's all I'll say, but I am looking forward to owning this film on DVD! Highly recommended!

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars LOUISE BROOKS IGNITES THE SCREEN, December 9, 2001
By Robin Simmons (Palm Springs area, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Diary of a Lost Girl (DVD)
In the era of the silent cinema, no one ignited the screen like Louise Brooks. In the still shocking "Pandora's Box," and in the lurid, 1929 melodrama "DIARY OF A LOST GIRL,", the mysterious charisma and stunning beauty of Brooks are on sensational display. Brooks, the ultimate 20s flapper, plays idealistic and innocent Thymian, who's raped by her unscrupulous pharmacist father's scabrous assistant. She leaves a child behind, escapes a horrible reform school and ends up working in a brothel. The great G.W. Pabst, who directed Brooks in "Pandora" directs again with an invisible hand. This masterpiece of German Expressionism is about 10 minutes longer and has over 80 slightly different cuts than the 1990 English version released on video (Kino). "Diary of a Lost Girl" is an absolutely exquisite film of great emotional power. Close ups of Brooks defy description. She will take your breath away.

Additionally, if you have some time to spare, you can read the entire book on which the movie was based (originally written in German, translated under the title Diary of a Lost One) online for free.

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