Friday, February 6, 2015

It is the time of the year for award shows. Time for us to see the real person that we usually see in movies. Recently George Clooney received the Cecil B. DeMille award for acting   at the Golden Globes. It is like a life achievement award given to those who are elected and have done a large body of successful work. Who was Cecil B. DeMille anyway? Today many actresses and actors also become movie directors even while they are starring in  the same movie. Do they talk to themselves out loud to substantiate   receiving a director’s salary while also earning an actor’s fee?
He was the very definition of a big time Hollywood producer and director of some of the biggest old time movies ever produced. In the first half of the 20th Century he made more than 70 movies in a career that spanned 40 years. These are the movies I grew up watching, the movies that helped explain the Bible better to me. His work include movies called, The Greatest Show on Earth, The Ten Commandments, Samson and Delilah, Union Pacific, The Buccaneer, The Plainsman, Unconquered, King of Kings, and Cleopatra to name a few. Rent these old movies and sit down and make the new generation watch real romance and not sex,, real courage and not cowards hidden behind big bombs. Get the Pop  Corn popping for these old great actors.

He showed a tough guy like John Wayne have an intimate moment to also being able to corral hundreds of extras in huge extravaganzas.  His grand-daughter who lived with him and went everywhere with him from a very young age just co-authored a book about his life. The book includes fabulous still photography from the various films he produced. He tried careers at acting and singing opera and did not look into film production till he was 33 years old. A friend called Samuel Goldfish who later became Sam Goldwyn helped him to get started in the film business back in 1914. His first film was called The Squawman that was controversial in that it involved a white settler falling in love with an Indian squaw in the Wild West. It became a popular film then. It was the days when films were more fantasy than real life.

The little company he helped start would eventually become Paramount. He became a celebrity himself as his films became more popular. In his film called The Ten Commandments, he introduced their version of special effects through lighting and other imagery.   The critics did not always love his work but the fans did and tickets sold. Amazingly, in 1925, despite all his successful years, Paramount kicked him out. He was fired and was unhappy about it for the rest of his life. It all just encouraged him to make his own films along with MGM. After a while, he was invited back and did some controversial talking films like the sexy scenes of the time in the 1932 movie The Sign of the Cross.

After that no one questioned him and he did whatever he wanted at Paramount. A film about the circus in 1951 won him his first Academy Award. The Technicolor version of The Ten Commandments released in 1956 with Charlton Heston as Moses, showcased pioneering special effects of the parting of the sea.  It was DeMill’s last film and is considered a classic. He suffered a heart attack and died at age 77. So warm up in front of the fireplace and snuggle with someone who really loves you to a great old movie.

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