splash  What did critics of the time think of Pandora’s Box (1929)? Opinion was mixed, though generally negative in tone. The film was shown in Europe, Asia and South America, with only a couple of scattered screenings in North America. Here is a survey, in the form of a number of quotes, from some of the English-language periodicals of the time.


“The long search at last is ended. Lulu has been found. By the time this is in print it will be news no longer. Having literally searched the whole of Europe for a suitable type for Lulu in The Box of Pandora (adapted from the book by Wedekind), having interviewed hundreds and tested scores, in Germany, France, Sweden, Austria, Hungary, G. W. Pabst has at last found, in America, the type for which he had been seeking in vain. Lulu will be no other than Louise Brooks, the well-known junior Paramount star. The search for Lulu has been almost the principal topic of interest in Germany for a couple of months. Everywhere one went one heard ‘What about Lulu?’ ‘Is Lulu found yet’ . . . Lulu is found. And now, after long delay, Pandora will be filmed by Nero Film.” — Close Up (England)

“Louise Brooks is not chosen because she is Louise Brooks but because, for whatever reason, she looks likely to find it easier than anyone else might, to sink into and become a visual expression of Lulu in Pandora’s Box. Or so it appears to Pabst.” — Jean Lenauer, Close Up (England)

“Louise Brooks is ideally suited to the role of Lulu.” — Irene Thirer, New York Daily News

“The management, in a program note, says that the picture, based on Wedekind’s dramas, Erdgeist and The Box of Pandora, has been prevented by the board of review of the Motion Picture Division of the State of New York from being shown here in its entirety, ‘and for the rather saccharine ending that has been added we crave pardon’. . . . Louise Brooks acts vivaciously but with a seeming blindness as to what it is all about.” — Marguerite Tazelaar, New York Herald Tribune

“The little theaters continue to lead their own lives. There are nice eighteenth-century sets in Figaro, at the Little Carnegie, and a subdued Kraft-Ebing overtone in Pandora’s Box, at the Fifty-fifth Street Playhouse, for the benefit of the Wedekind group.” — J. C. M., New Yorker

“Louise Brooks, the American actress, has the part of an exotic girl who attracts men and women alike. It is too sophisticated for any but art theater audiences.” — Harrower, Film Daily

“At that the picture is above the average of the usual foreign-made production shown in this type of theatre. It has a fast tempo which in itself is unusual. Undoubtedly Louise Brooks, who is starred, is largely responsible for this. — Motion Picture News

“Better for Louise Brooks had she contented exhibiting that supple form in two-reel comedies or Paramount features. Pandora’s Box, a rambling thing that doesn’t help her, nevertheless proves that Miss Brooks is not a dramatic lead. Picture has a difficult time keeping up with itself. Will get by in the sure-seaters and some of the unwired indies.” — Waly, Variety

“The picture starts well. Then comes the scene when Lulu refuses to go on the first night of the revue. This is unconvincing. . . . Louise Brooks does all that is possible in the role of Lulu. Her performance, combined with the masterful characterization of the wealthy man by Fritz Kortner, makes the early scenes definitely dramatic and effective.” — The Bioscope (England)