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TO MAY 23
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Kansas-born actress Louise Brooks made three of her most interesting movies in Europe just as silent film was about to die, taking the bobbed-haired beauty’s career with it. This weekend, the National Gallery of Art shows recently restored prints of 1929’s Diary of a Lost Girl (at 4 p.m. Saturday, May 22) and 1930’s Miss Europe (pictured; at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, May 23), both films that suffered at the hands of censors and circumstances. Narratively, G.W. Pabst’s Diary is the more complex: Brooks plays Thymian, a young bourgeois woman who has a baby out of wedlock and then loses both her child and her home when her outraged father sends her to a reformatory. Through pluck and luck, Thymian eventually finds herself in the position to help other lost girls. This film was shredded by censors and was sometimes shown with an alternate ending. The current version was reassembled from material from four countries. Augusto Genina’s simpler but visually striking Miss Europe looks more like a silent film, with skillful montage sequences, evocative location shots, and a final tribute to the power of the cinematic image. Yet the movie was hastily converted to a talkie, with music and dialogue added at the last minute. This tale of a typist who wins an international beauty contest only to be dragged back to drudgery by her fiancé was just recently restored as a silent with Italian intertitles (which will be translated live). Pianist Ray Brubacher accompanies both films. The series runs to Sunday, May 23, at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th Street and Constitution Ave. NW. Free. (202) 842-6799. (Mark Jenkins)