Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cecil B. DeMille: Empire of Dreams by Scott Eyman

I just started reading the newest book by a past guest at the Silver Screen Oasis, author Scott Eyman.
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Cecil B. DeMille: Empire of Dreams (Simon & Schuster) is incredibly detailed and, like a thriller, you keep wondering how ol' Cecil is going to pull off his latest stunts on and off screen as he became a filmmaker who invented the job as he went along. A far more complex character than one might guess from relishing some of his lavish productions, which could be funny, moving and of course, titillating, so far (I'm only on page 124) it is enthralling and hard to put down. As ever, with anything Eyman writes, he has done his research (he had access to many of the DeMille files that had never been examined previously), and he has a lively, fluid writing style, as well as an instinctive sense of fairness toward his subject.

My favorite DeMille movie has gotta be the incredible Sign of the Cross (1932), followed by the surprisingly subtle and moving The Cheat (1915). If you would like a taste of DeMille, you might enjoy Samson and Delilah (1949) which is being broadcast by TCM tonight at midnight ET on Sept. 24th. Maybe this time that lion will win his wrestling match with Victor Mature?

You can hear Scott Eyman being interviewed on NPR by Scott Simon here.

Tim Rutten reviews the book for The Los Angeles Times here.

You can read more about Scott Eyman's terrific books here at his website.

You can see the entire Q & A with Scott Eyman at the Silver Screen Oasis in 2007 here.

UPDATE!
You can read a lively account of the recent screening of the Claudette Colbert version of Cleopatra (1934)  at the Egyptian Theatre here.  The event was hosted by Leonard Maltin and featured Scott Eyman and DeMille family members. Just scroll down the page to the posting for September 22, 2010 posted at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings posted on September 22, 2010 to see this on-the-spot report.

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