The Sunday Intertitle: DeMille’s Vision

Nyah, I seen better.

The LIFE IN HOLLYWOOD featurettes offer a lot of useful views of the film community in the twenties, and a lot of heavily staged vignettes of movie celebrities going about their business. The [TOP DIRECTOR/ACTOR] FORGETS HIS STUDIO PASS routine seems to have been a popular trope. Maurice Tourneur and Lloyd Hamilton both tried that one, though only “Ham” blacked up for it.

We are presented with DeMille’s luxury studio, then minutes later, with a shot of DeMille pondering his next screen story. An intertitle gives us invaluable background so we can interpret the image correctly.

But, for reasons best known to himself, C.B. has opted to play it not as “There is a lack of tension in the second act,” but as “I HATE MY LIFE.”

Figure 1 (above). He flips the heavy folder (around three hundred pages, by the look of it) closed with a contemptuous gesture, then stares at the binder as if contemplating throwing it at somebody’s head.

Figure 2. He gives it a really hard stare, as if to melt it with his heat vision. (Little-known fact: Cecil B. DeMille had heat vision. But it only worked on model boats. So he would always keep at least one model boat nearby in case he wanted to impress Florence Vidor with his heat vision.)

Figure 3. Cecil collapses in despair. He has realised that not only is his second act lacking in tension, but “Cecil” is an unimposing name and the dynamic initial “B” does not do enough to compensate, and anyway, heat vision is a rubbish superpower for a motion picture director, more counter-productive than anything.

Never mind, Cec!

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4 Responses to “The Sunday Intertitle: DeMille’s Vision”

  1. bensondonald Says:

    Where can these be seen? I recall a clip, possibly from here, that showed Marion Davies tidying her virtuous single-girl flat.

    Also: More DeMille

  2. I’ve watched three episodes but haven’t seen Marion yet. Am sure Hearst would have been happy to bankroll that publicity.

    I got the films from my usual shady sources. I think they’ve had some kind of grey-market release…

  3. perhaps Cecil is having a premonition about future reception of Birth of Nation?

  4. I think not… DW Griffith has already made that one. And it was a hit!

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