Cecil B. DeMille

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Cecil B. de Mille (1920)

Cecil Blount DeMille (born August 12, 1881 in Ashfield , Massachusetts , † January 21, 1959 in Hollywood ) was an American director , producer and actor . For over four decades he was one of the most commercially successful directors in Hollywood, in particular lavish and spectacular films such as The World's Greatest Show and The Ten Commandments became his trademark.


Cecil B. DeMille (1904)

Cecil B. DeMille was born the son of a playwright. With the outbreak of the American-Spanish War , he ran away from the cadet institute, where he had been housed since his father's death, in order to be enrolled as a soldier. Some time later he followed his brother William and began an acting career. From 1900 he became friends with some of the well-known greats in show business such as David Belasco and Florenz Ziegfeld .

In 1913 he founded a film company with Jesse L. Lasky and Samuel Goldwyn , the Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company. DeMille went to Hollywood , where he belonged to the first generation of filmmakers producing there and in 1914 made the film The Squaw Man together with Oscar Apfel . The film was one of the first full-length productions with a length of six roles , and the great financial success allowed DeMille to start further projects. A short time later, the Lasky Company became Paramount , and DeMille took on a central role as the studio's leading creative mind. Not only did he produce some of the studio's biggest hits, but was also the supervisor responsible for all of Paramount's output.

Under his aegis, the so-called six-reelers , i.e. evening-long feature films, began their triumphant advance, and the era of expensive production budgets began. At the same time, DeMille recognized the value of stars for the success of a cinema production and began systematically to build up its own contingent of well-known names for Paramount. Geraldine Farrar , Bebe Daniels , Monte Blue and Wallace Reid were discovered or decisively promoted by him. However, his strong ego prevented him from getting along with the studio's biggest star: Mary Pickford and DeMille made two films in 1917, A Romance of the Redwoods and The Little American , but both were too individualists for a portable work surface would have.

DeMille began to shoot monumental films with Geraldine Farrar, for which he later became known, such as the lavish biography Joan the Woman about Jeanne d'Arc and the historical drama The Woman God Forgot . At the beginning of the 1920s, the public's taste changed to erotic comedies, and DeMille found in Gloria Swanson the ideal actress for his "bed and bathroom romances" such as states like in paradise , For Better, for Worse or the wrong ways of a marriage . A trademark of DeMille was the detailed presentation of all kinds of vices and moral misconduct during the first three quarters of the running time and the corresponding moral reaction shortly before the end of the film, mostly in the form of a biblical narrative that was somehow built into the plot without much consideration for logic . At the same time, production costs for DeMille films escalated, and towards the middle of the decade there was a break between Paramount and DeMille over the cost of The Golden Bed , which featured the usual expensive DeMille orgies, half-naked women and real lions. In the 1920s, he made his first Bible film epics with The Ten Commandments (1923) and King of Kings (1927).

DeMille switched to MGM for a few years , but after the financial failure of Madame Satan , the climax of which was the collision of a zeppelin with the Statue of Liberty and the subsequent rescue of the passengers with parachutes, he returned to Paramount in 1932. With a set budget of $ 650,000 and a weekly fee of $ 450, he made the film Sign of the Cross and was back in business thanks to its financial success. In the years that followed, he became the studio's most influential director and producer. His adventure films were rejected by the critics, but were acclaimed by the public. From 1936 DeMille was responsible for the successful radio show Lux Radio Show , which specialized in the interpretation of well-known films or plays with well-known film stars. After some heated arguments with the trade unions AFRA (now AFTRA), however, he was forced to discontinue the series in 1945. Even during his filming, he repeatedly fought with AFRA, who protested against the working conditions. In 1950 he received the honorary Oscar for his life's work.

He experienced the high point of his career with the films The Biggest Show in the World , which won the Oscar for best film at the 1953 Academy Awards , and the remake The Ten Commandments , which broke box-office records in 1956 and, adjusted for inflation, is still one of the most successful films of all time. His last film, King of the Buccaneers, was completed in 1958 by his son-in-law Anthony Quinn when DeMille was unable to work due to illness. DeMille died in 1959 at the age of 77 while preparing for his first science fiction film.

Style and appreciation

DeMille knew instinctively how to awaken and also satisfy the wishes of the audience. His films were mostly extravaganzas that anticipated the term “popcorn cinema”. The critics regularly criticized the sometimes absurd interpretation of the story in his epics, but at the same time they paid respect for the technically innovative developments and inventions of trick technology. Robert S. Sennett also notes that DeMille was one of the first directors to “discover the importance of creating an image. He managed to make his name and his defining character a trademark. "

DeMille has also appeared several times as an actor in films by other directors in smaller roles. He often played himself in the process. One of his best-known appearances of this type is that on Billy Wilder's Boulevard of Twilight . In honor of DeMille, the Golden Globe for the life's work of an artist, the Cecil B. DeMille Award , was named after him. DeMille was a member of the Freemasons Association . His lodge (Prince of Orange Lodge No. 16) is based in New York.




Directors Guild of America Award

  • 1953: Lifetime Achievement Award

Golden Globe Award

Laurel Award

  • 1958 Laurel Awards Top Producer / Director


Web links

Commons : Cecil B. DeMille  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. Robert S. Sennett: Hollywood Dream Factory. How stars were made and myths born . Europa Verlag, Hamburg 2000, ISBN 3-203-84112-6 , pp. 18 .
  2. Famous Freemasons Cecil B. DeMille , Homepage: Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon (accessed December 14, 2012)
  3. Famous Freemasons USNews , Homepage: US News & World Report (accessed December 14, 2012)