He was among the most notable producer-directors of Hollywood’s classic period. He made the Bible both spectacular and sexy. He was unfailingly gracious to Gloria Swanson as forgotten silent star Norma Desmond in 1950’s Sunset Boulevard.
The very name, Cecil B. DeMille, is equated with the bold, sweeping movie spectaculars made during the height of the Hollywood studio system. He routinely employed literally “a cast of thousands.”
He disliked movie critics, who usually patronized his work, but always trusted the public. His films were generally successful, big at the box office.
We suspect that you might not know as much about the great DeMille as you should. So, inspired by author Charles Higham’s 1973 biography, we’ve put together this Monday Quiz in hopes of imparting information you either forgot or didn’t know in the first place.
As usual, answers tomorrow. Here we go:
1) Question: Although the King James Bible was a great source of inspiration, DeMille himself came from a secular Jewish back round, and personally didn’t believe a Biblical word. a) True; or b) False.
2) Question: DeMille loved to remake his own films, and he set a record by remaking which one of the following titles two times? a) King of Kings; b) The Squaw Man; c) The Volga Boatman; or d) Cleopatra.
3) Question: DeMille was responsible for salvaging the movie career of one of Hollywood leading actors, who had been shunned by the studios during the blacklist period. Who was this actor? a) John Garfield; b) Burgess Meredith c) Charlie Chaplin or d) Edward G. Robinson.
4) Question: When directing Hedy Lamarr in 1952’s Samson and Delilah, DeMille was put off by which of the following Vienna-born actress’ characteristics? a) Her shaky command of the English language; b) Her habit of posing as if for a still photograph at the end of each scene; c) Her face that never seemed to fully register emotion; or d) Her habit of forgetting her lines.
5) Question: DeMille is one of the few silent movie directors to successfully make the transition to “talkies.” Did he make more films in sound than silents? a) Yes; b) No.
6) Question: Which of the following titles was DeMille’s first silent film, and which was his debut in sound? a) The Virginian; b) Dynamite; c) Madame Satan; d) The Squaw Man.
7) Question: DeMille famously berated actor Victor Mature on the set of Samson of Delilah for what reason? a) He showed up out of shape and in flabby condition; b) His obesity; c) His numerous fear phobias; or d) His genial, charming personality.
8) Question: One of DeMille’s later productions — 1958’s The Buccaneer, a resounding flop — was directed by which one of the following actors? (Hint — Nepotism played a role here.) a) Yul Brynner; b) Anthony Quinn; c) Charleton Heston; or d) Charles Laughton.
9) Question: Which one of the following actresses earned DeMille’s genuine admiration on the set of the producer-directors 1952’s circus picture, The Greatest Show On Earth? a) Gloria Grahame; b) Dorothy Lamour; c) Betty Hutton; or d) Julia Faye.
10) Question: During the shooting of 1956’s The Ten Commandments, DeMille suffered a severe physical setback. What was it? a) An attack of the runs; b) Early onset dementia; c) An apparent heart attack; or d) A stroke.