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lulu  Photoplay editions were the "movie tie-in" books of the silent and early sound era. Usually, these books featured cover art taken from the film, or an image of the film's leading actor or actress. Typically, such books featured between four and twelve images from the movie inserted throughout the text. (Other, more deluxe editions, sometimes featured illustrated endpapers, gatefolds, or bindings.) This page highlights the photoplay editions based on films in which Louise Brooks appeared. Click on any picture to view a larger image.

The first book on the subject of photoplays was Emil Petaja's Photoplay Edition (SISU, 1976). It documented the Grosset & Dunlap photoplays of Beggars of Life and The Canary Murder Case. Later books on the subject include Rick Miller's more comprehensive Photoplay Editions: A Collector's Guide (McFarland, 2002) and Arnie Davis' Photoplay Editions and other Movie Tie-In Books (Mainely Books, 2002), as well as Thomas Mann's Horror and Mystery Photoplay Editions and Magazine Fictionizations (McFarland, 2004).


by Jim Tully
published in 1928

Jim Tully was a popular writer of the 1920's, and he authored numerous magazine articles and books. Beggars of Life - subtitled "A Hobo Autobiography," tells the story of his life on the road and served as the basis for the 1928 William Wellman film starring Wallace Beery, Richard Arlen and Louise Brooks.

Because of its popularity, there were a number of hardback editions of Beggars of Life issued in the United States in the 1920's. The book was originally published by Boni and Liveright in 1924; a later reprint was issued by Garden City Publishing. Pictured here is the hardback photoplay edition (Grosset & Dunlap). This edition has four movie stills (pictured below); Louise Brooks is pictured in three of the images.

beggars of life beggars of life beggars of life beggars of life

The text from the inside front flap of the dustjacket reads:

"Kicked, cuffed, beaten, hounded - but finding adventure at every turn, wanderers drifting around, beggars of life.

This is the tale of the hobo - strong, ‘hard, raw, stark - a living scene lifted from the colorful past of one of the most picturesque characters of our times. Son of an Irish ditch-digger, Jim Tully’s love of the beautiful and his wild, free spirit caused him at the age of twelve to run away from the orphan asylum and hit the long, high road of adventure.

For eight years Tully rode the beams, camped out under the stars, begged handouts at back doorsteps. For even longer he was a prize fighter. But through all richly romantic years the freckled-faced, red-headed youth retained his burning desire to write. And finally success came to him.

'A bitter drama of the roaring rails,' says one reviewer . 'a cross section of the life of America' . . 'the Odyssey of a nonchalant Irish rover' . . . 'the brilliant, fascinating story of creatures who once were men - and still are.'"

BeggarsUK BeggarsUK
Beggars of Life
UK edition, front cover
Beggars of Life
UK edition, back cover

by Jim Tully
published circa 1928

Pictured here is a photoplay edition of Beggars of Life from England. This edition was published by Wm. Collins & Sons in 1928. The book is part of the publisher's "Novel Library for Fiction Lovers."

The book is rather small, measuring approximately 6' x 4'. There are no interior illustrations; the front and back of the dust jacket feature (somewhat akward) paintings based on scenes from the film. The front depicts Louise Brooks and Richard Arlen, while the back depicts Louise Brooks and Wallace Beery.


by S.S. Van Dine
published in 1929

This modern detective story - hugely popular in its day - is the basis for the 1929 Malcolm St. Clair film starring William Powell (as detective Philo Vance) and Louise Brooks (as the murdered showgirl - the so-called "Canary"). Van Dine - a well respected art critic and magazine editor of the 1920's - wrote numerous "entertainments" featuring the ace detective Philo Vance. For more on S.S. Van Dine, visit these author pages.

There have been numerous editions of The Canary Murder Caser; it has been frequently republished in bother hardback and paperback editions since it's initial publication in 1927. Pictured here is a vintage hardback photoplay edition (Grosset & Dunlap). Included in this editon are four stills from the film (pictured below), none of which include Brooks.

canary murder case canary murder case canary murder case canary murder case

The text from the inside front flap of the dustjacket reads:

"Philo Vance, the psycho-sleuth, is invited to aid his friend Markham, the district attorney, and Sergeant Heath of the Homicide bureau in their efforts to discover the murderer of the Canary, a noted Broadway blond who is found strangled in her apartment on West 71st Street. The only entrance to the apartment is thru the main hall past the telephone operator’s booth. Thus the number of suspects is narrowed down to four men known to have been enamored of the Canary.

It is one of the best of the recent detective stories, compact, swift, and well articulated, with sufficient exciting detail and enough variety of complication to exercise the ingenuity of the reader continuously. From the moment of its beginning with the discovery of the murder to the final revelation of her destroyer the pace of the story never flags."

scribners edition

by S.S. Van Dine
published in 1930

A later hardback edition of the novel published by Scribners (depicted right) contains one still opposite the title page depicting Brooks cowering before the shadow of a menacing hand. This edition was published as part of the "The Philo Vance Series."

by Boisyvon
published in 1932

Not much is known about this illustrated novelization of the film of the same name. The author is [Lucien ?] Boisyvon. The book was reportedly published in Paris by Jules Tallandier in 1932. Any additional information on this title would be appreciated.



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