Cecil B. DeMille

American film director
Motion pictures are the most important contribution to literature and art since the invention of fiction.

Cecil Blount DeMille (August 12, 1881 – January 21, 1959) was an American filmmaker. Between 1914 and 1958, he made a total of 70 features, both silent and sound films. He is acknowledged as a founding father of the American cinema and the most commercially successful producer-director in film history. His films were distinguished by their epic scale and by his cinematic showmanship. His silent films included social dramas, comedies, Westerns, farces, morality plays, and historical pageants.

Only those who day by day are in the midst of motion pictures can really appreciate the wonderful opportunities for extraordinary things which the camera permits, and although we are still more or less in the beginning of things (I do not like to think we have really touched the great springs of the art as yet) we are struggling, working, studying all the time to better the production.
Motion pictures are visualized thought! Do you grasp how different that is from any other of the great arts?
This will probably be my last film—it will certainly be my biggest.

QuotesEdit

  • Motion pictures are visualized thought! Do you grasp how different that is from any other of the great arts? The printed word is reserved to those only who can read the language of the publication; music is for the ear that appreciates harmony (not every ear does that), but motion pictures are the universal language, as comprehensive to the American as to the Japanese, as understandable to the African as to the man in the Arctic. Motion pictures are human nature picturized and human nature is the same the world over in every clime.
  • Only those who day by day are in the midst of motion pictures can really appreciate the wonderful opportunities for extraordinary things which the camera permits, and although we are still more or less in the beginning of things (I do not like to think we have really touched the great springs of the art as yet) we are struggling, working, studying all the time to better the production.
  • Joan the Woman was the most interesting undertaking from the point of view of the artists and the director in the history of the pictures, I believe. It is entirely different from the spectacle features, as it is essentially drama, with the story always first and most important and the spectacular features secondary, although many critics have more than praised the battles and scenes of pageantry.
  • The phrases, "happy ending" and "unhappy ending" are misnomers. They belong to an era when the public demanded a saccharine finish to every picture, irrespective of whether or not it was logical. Film-goers of 1933 insist upon a new standard in their screen entertainment. They are not particularly concerned about the ending of a picture so long as it is truthful. Naturally, they do not want a preponderance of depressing themes, but I am firmly convinced that they would rather witness a tragic finish that is truthful and logical than a sugar-coated ending that is not. In The Sign of the Cross the problem of bringing the story to a close is one that would have been difficult a few years ago, when the sugary tradition ruled the film industry. But now that the words "happy" and "unhappy" have been deleted from cinema terminology, our task was simplified, and we gave an ending which appeals to logic and intelligence.
  • Every year a new lesson is learned, but the one precept that never fails to be true is that a good picture will always be well received by the public. During 1933 particularly, the public displayed shrewd taste in supporting pictures which have been produced with great care and the finest of production materials.
  • Legend rides high with history, but truth follows a lonely trail. I've pursued verity from the museum at Cairo to the smoking tepees of the Cheyennes at Lame Deer, Montana.
  • Most people never achieve stardom until they've had at least one good, serious siege of the grand passion. It doesn't hurt a career. It helps. Leatrice Joy was a smart, capable girl, she had beauty and talent and everything to make her a star. But she was marking time. Then she fell in love with John Gilbert and married him. It changed her completely. She seemed to bloom and blossom. And this new radiance showed in her work. She went right on to the top.
  • This bouquet is not given lightly. I've worked with many of the screen's greatest stars, and, if I were tendering posies merely to strike a popular chord, I should pick one of them. But Tamiroff is so far ahead of the field as a hard-working artist that he easily claims all awards.
  • Sensible married women usually stop acting after the honeymoon—but not their husbands. Young men go on acting parts until they reach maturity, and from there to the grave they're preoccupied with the problem of acting normal. Most men, I'm sorry to say, are "hams" at heart.
  • It's not just a good part, it's a great part, but until Miss Goddard passed her screen test as Louvette, I hadn't been able to find a Hollywood actress who both looked it and could play it convincingly. What most of the candidates lacked was imagination.

Quotes about DeMilleEdit

 
There was only one DeMille and there wasn't an actor in the world who didn't want to work for him just once, however short the salary or tall the corn.
 
He paused to wait for my decision. Did I want the part or not? I wanted it, I told him, even though he would be paying me about one-third my usual salary. What he didn't know was that I'd have done the part for nothing.
  • Cecil DeMille is a strict disciplinarian, but he is a great man to work with. DeMille, in handling big crowds and thousands of extras, shows a fine insight into human nature. . . Cecil DeMille shows a great interest and keenness in his work, and for months ahead will plan every move in a big scene with the aid of miniature sets and in discussion with his principal stars. If an actor or other player shows attention to his work, and interest and knowledge of his part, Cecil DeMille is anxious to help him in every way; but he resents the player who has no interest.
  • No more conservative or patriarchal figure existed in Hollywood, no one more opposed to communism or any permutation or combination thereof, and no fairer one, no one with a greater sense of decency and justice.
  • I took a cut in salary to work for DeMille; a lot of actors did; he seemed to expect it as a kind of due. There was only one DeMille and there wasn't an actor in the world who didn't want to work for him just once, however short the salary or tall the corn. I could still picture Angela Lansbury coyly running around in chiffon skivvies, letting arrows fly at the back end of a lion skin tacked on a patio wall in Samson and Delilah. I always thought that looked like good fun.
  • He reminded me of the prestige gained in playing a major role in a DeMille picture, which was worth far more than the twenty-five thousand he wanted to pay me. I purposely allowed a frown to cross my brow, just to see if he had still more charm to zap me with. But that was it. He paused to wait for my decision. Did I want the part or not? I wanted it, I told him, even though he would be paying me about one-third my usual salary. What he didn't know was that I'd have done the part for nothing.
  • Cecil B. DeMille, the producer-director of Samson and Delilah, always saw all of Hollywood to find the best people for his spectaculars. So when I got the call, I wasn't all that anxious to come in for the interview from Laguna, where I was living then. I thought, "Well, he's seeing everyone and now it's my turn." Meeting him in his office at Paramount, I found that he had an extensive knowledge of my entire career—that's how thorough he was. When the interview lasted four hours, I knew I was in.
  • I loved DeMille and he loved me. We only made Union Pacific together, but we did lots of radio. We got along great.
    • Barbara Stanwyck, as quoted in Empire of Dreams: The Epic Life of Cecil B. DeMille (2010)
  • There was an immediate rapport between us, and our relationship was more than director and star; there was a great friendship, and a great mutual respect. I loved the old buzzard. You either hated him or you loved him, there was no half-way measure at all. He liked me because I never "yessed" him, and contrary to popular opinion, DeMille hated yes-men. There were a lot of people around him who were yes-men because he was such a powerful producer-director, but they wouldn't last. He'd always say, "I don't want 50 little DeMilles running around—it's bad enough to have one!"
    • Henry Wilcoxon, as quoted in Hooked on Hollywood: Discoveries from a Lifetime of Film Fandom (2018)

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