Tuesday October 21, 2014
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16-054 Cecil Blount DeMille II

Tuesday Oct 21, 2014

Lead: After a temporary financial setback during World War I, famed Hollywood producer and director, Cecil B. DeMille, never looked back.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the early 1920s, DeMille began re-crafting his career with a series of silent film social comedies that focused on married life. He returned to the style that defined his career in 1923 when he was allowed to try another spectacular. The Ten Commandments was one of biggest hits of the silent era but it went way over budget. DeMille insisted on realism, huge casts, innovative lighting, and demonstrated a dedication to art and design that his competitors could not equal, but these films were very expensive. DeMille found himself often at odds with the studios whose attention to the bottom line conflicted with his artistic independence.

The director was one of the few to successfully make the transition away from the silent era, but like most of Hollywood, DeMille struggled during the Depression. By 1936, however, he had hit his stride, returning to Paramount with the hit film, The Sign of the Cross. He remained at that studio for the rest of his career. Recognizing the lucrative power of cross platform marketing, in 1936 DeMille accepted the position as host of the Lux Radio Theater, a dramatic anthology series. For a decade, DeMille became a household name on radio which, in turn, helped promote his films.

He was recognized by his colleagues many times with awards, but only The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), won an Academy award for best picture. Perhaps his greatest and most lasting achievement was the remake of The Ten Commandments (1956). This film, made to excruciating DeMille standards, still remains popular on television and is often aired in the days around Easter. DeMille died in 1959.

Research by Holly Walker, from Richmond, Virginia this is Dan Roberts.


DeMille, Cecil B. The Autobiography of Cecil B. DeMille. Donald Hayne, ed. Englewood Cliffs: Printice-Hall, Inc., 1959.

Higham, Charles. Cecil B. DeMille. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1973.

Louvish, Simon. Cecil B. DeMille: A Life in Art. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2007.

Patt, George C. “Forty-five Years of Picture Making: An Interview with Cecil B. DeMille.” Film History 3 (2, 1989): 133-145.

Copyright 2014 by Dan Roberts Enterprises, Inc.


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