Diary of a Lost Girl (1929)

“Be reasonable, my child. You don’t have a shirt on your back.”

The virginal daughter (Louise Brooks) of a pharmacist (Josef Rovensky) is raped and impregnated by his business associate (Fritz Rasp), then sent by her father and his new housemaid-turned-wife (Franziska Kinz) to a reform school run by a pair of sadists (Andrews Engelmann and Valeska Gert). After escaping with her friend (Edith Meinhard) and learning her baby has died, Brooks wanders into a brothel run by a seemingly benevolent mother figure (Vera Pawlowa) who enlists her services. Will a penniless count (Andre Roann) help Thymian (Brooks) return to respectable society?


Louise Brooks made two films with Austrian-born director G.W. Pabst: Pandora’s Box (1929) and this follow-up, a melodramatic adaptation of a 1905 novel about a “lost girl” who can’t seem to catch a break. Brooks is as lovely as ever, and Pabst’s directorial hand (aided by luminous cinematography) crafts many memorable sequences. Unfortunately, the wandering screenplay is a disappointment, and most certainly not worthy of the talents on display here. Nonetheless, we’re more or less glued to the screen simply to watch the imagery unfolding, which says something about both Pabst’s and Brooks’ cinematic power. The storyline includes some truly creepy, self-serving characters — both men and women — demonstrating that a girl needs not only self-determination but a bit of good luck to keep her head above water. Personally, I’m grateful for the “Hollywood ending” tacked on to the original narrative; anything else would have been simply too much to bear watching unfold for this likable heroine.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Louise Brooks as Thymian
  • Lovely cinematography

Must See?
No, though it’s recommended for Brooks’ performance. Listed as a film with Historical Relevance and a Cult Movie.


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