Louise Brooks was never really a big star in 1920’s silent movies. She was a junior Paramount player when she made her debut in 1925 in “The Street of Forgotten Men” and didn’t graduate to leading lady statues until she made “Pandora’s Box” and “The Diary of a Lost Girl” in Germany in 1929. In her Hollywood days she was known as opinionated, temperamental, difficult and she let it be known that she couldn’t wait for her contract to expire so she could get away from making pictures. Does that sound like someone we know?
It was years later when Louise was re-discovered in obscurity and became something of a cause celebrate for her somewhat acid recollections of life in Hollywood. Today she is best known for her look, that “black helmet” of hair that more or less typified the “flapper” of the late 1920’s. It’s a very striking and unique look and Louise pulled it off beautifully and elegantly. In my opinion, however, while she looked lovely in photographs, it didn’t translate to watching her on film where she has a cold and detached looks which perfectly mirrors what a lot of her contemporaries thought of her.
While the look worked for Louise, it most certainly DID NOT work for Pola Negri. For some reason known only to her, she cut her hair and modeled something similar to the
cut that Miss Brooks wearing. It doesn’t suit her at all and she looks nothing like herself. Perhaps she was bit too old at this time–almost 30–or perhaps because it makes her head and eyes look too large and her Slavic features more pronounced. She seems to also have lost a considerable amount of weight around this time for some mysterious reason. In any event, she sooner grew her hair back out, filled out la little as well and became more recognizable as the Pola we all know and love. After all, anyone can cut their hair to look like Louise Brooks, but there is only ONE Pola Negri.