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Cecil B. DeMille: The Art Of The Hollywood Epic Book Review

Cecil B. DeMille- The Art Of The Hollywood Epic  Book

“Cecil B. Demille: The Art of the Hollywood Epic” will appeal to film buffs and fans of the legendary director.

When you think of epic films and lavish cinematic spectacles, one name comes to mind- Cecil B. Demille. In the history of cinema, no one did BIG motion pictures better than the iconic director as evidenced by the enduring 1956 classic “The Ten Commandments” and Best Picture winner “The Greatest Show on Earth.” He was a true cinematic pioneer, and thanks to this thick hardcover book, people now have the opportunity to learn about this visionary artist.

Written by Cecilia DeMille Presley and Mark A. Vieira, “Cecil B. DeMille: The Art of the Hollywood Epic” is a biography (of sorts) that covers a wide range of topics such as Cecil’s rise in the entertainment biz, his family, the director’s financial troubles, his massive filmography, the development of his directorial skills, the movie stars he worked with (such as Mary Pickford), and his collaborations with MGM and business partner Jesse L. Lasky. On top of that, there are numerous behind-the-scenes stories of productions like “The Squaw Man” (his debut feature), “Cleopatra,” and “The Ten Commandments,” as well as a wealth of fascinating stories about major script troubles for “The Greatest Show On Earth,” Gloria Swanson’s crush on Cecil, the effect of the Great Depression on Cecil’s career, DeMille being heartbroken over the loss of friends and colleagues, and the final years of his life.

It should be noted that the book isn’t entirely a textual piece. The book doubles as a visual feast too as there are a plethora of artist renderings on various productions, rare photos of Cecil, photos from the sets of certain films, and colorful film prop and costume pictures.

Aside from the meat of the book, there are a number of goodies that precede the 7 chapters worth of material. First off, there’s a touching introduction by Martin Scorsese who heaps praise upon CBD. Up next is a foreword by director Brett Ratner who talks about the influence of Cecil’s directorial skills as well as his films. Last, but not least there’s a piece by Cecilia DeMille who shares memories of her late grandfather.

As for the overall book, it’s not merely a collection of facts like some biographies or film books are. The authors dig deep into Cecil’s life by shedding light on his achievements as well as who he was a person. It’s clear from these pages that he was a dedicated artist, but he was also rather demanding and temperamental as well.

For the films fans out there, it’s really quite something to learn about the whole of his work. He may have been best known for religious epics like “Samson and Delilah,” but he also dipped his toes into the western (“Union Pacific”), musical (“Madam Satan”), and historical (“Cleopatra”) genres as well. Heck, he even remade his own films! He was nothing if not diverse in his choice of film projects.

Overall Thoughts: There is so much to absorb in the compelling “Cecil B. Demille: The Art of the Hollywood Epic.” It is well worth the price tag.

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May 11, 2015 - Posted by | Book review | , , ,

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