Beauty Prize ★★★★

Typist Louise Brooks submits her picture to the contest for the selection of Miss France. She mentions the contest to Georges Charlia, her fiancé, who denounces such contests as immoral. Brooks is selected Miss France and goes to San Sebastian, Spain to compete for the title of Miss Europe. Her fiancé follows her. Brooks and the young women representing other European countries parade in swimsuits before a large audience. The response of the audience members is used to determine the winner, and Brooks receives the most enthusiastic response and is named Miss Europe. At a party in honor of the contestants, she is admired by everyone and pursued by several rich and handsome young men. Her fiancé has arrived, and he informs her that she must return to Paris with him or break off their relationship. She returns to Paris. Some months later, Brooks and Charlia are married and living in a small apartment. She is bored and unhappy with the constrained life. When she signs some photos of herself as Miss Europe, her husband becomes angry and tears them up. Jean Brandin, one of the men she met at the contest, comes to offer her a movie contract, but she refuses to sign it. She and her husband go to a carnival where she is surrounded by crudity and cheapness. That night she decides to accept the movie offer and leaves her husband a goodbye note. He follows her to the movie studio where she and Bradin are watching her screen test. He husband enters and shoots her. As Bradin mourns over her, her husband looks on enigmatically.

What is the message? -Beauty is fleeting -Don’t marry a possessive Frenchman -Enjoy your life your own way, while you can

The story offers a good part for Brooks who looks fresh and beautiful. The experienced director, Augusto Genina, brings out good performances in Brooks and Charlia.

Silent films were obsolete in 1930. Brooks found her greatest success in European films that were made too late to find an audience, especially in the US. Filmmaking in the US transitioned to sound during 1928, and by 1929 only a few films were silent. Brooks is very good, and the film is strong and compelling. We enjoy it today, but it was not wanted at the time it was made.