Call#: Van Pelt Library PN1993.5.U65 W29 2001
In the chapter “Mr. Movies—Cecil B. Demille and Filmmaking in Hollywood’s Golden Age,” the author chronicles Cecil B. Demille’s professional and personal life in Hollywood from 1913 until his death in 1959. DeMille came to Hollywood in 1913 when he could no longer make money working for stage productions. Early on, DeMille revealed he was a stickler for detail. This proved successful, as the majority of the films he turned out were popular. As his career progressed, DeMille had a clear progression of styles, from sex comedies in the 1920s to overblown epics with seven figure budgets in the 1940s. Following his financial success (he made more in a week than most people made in a year), DeMille stayed true to stereotype—he bought a fancy car, a fancy house as well as a weekend home with a pool and the iron gates from the set of The King of Kongs.
The immediate connection to the film The Day of the Locust in this chapter is the mention of the film The Buccaneer starring Anthony Quinn. This is the film whose premiere immediately preceded the riot at the end of the film. However, as the chapter goes on to describe the productions and life of Cecil B. DeMille, more similarities to The Day of the Locust appear. The big budget epics that DeMille was known for directly coincide with the production that appears in the film. It seems almost arbitrary when Tod is asked, “What do you know about Waterloo?” and this fascination with epic historical recreations coincides with those that brought DeMille success. Even the autocratic style with which the director in the film shouts at the cast of the film matches the reported personality of DeMille. Further, DeMille’s excesses–a large, elaborate house with a pool as well as fancy cars and dress—directly tie to those of Claude Estee in the film. However, the chapter conveys a depth to DeMille’s life that clearly differentiates him from Estee. While Estee is a caricature designed to illustrate the alleged emptiness that pervades even the lives of the successful in Hollywood, DeMille lived a rich life that included interests and successes distinct from the film world.