Prophet In Celluloid?
Cecil B. DeMille Autobiography (Prentice-Hall, 1959, 465 pp., $5.95) is reviewed by Richard C. Halverson, Pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church, Washington, D. C., and Associate Executive Director, International Christian Leadership.
Was Cecil B. DeMille a “prophet in celluloid … who brought the Word of God to more people than any other man” … or “an apostle of sex, sin, and salvation, who used these commodities as a gimmick to sell synthetic religion” (Cue, Nov. 21, 1959)?
Probably neither, certainly not the latter. He was a man of conviction and vision who worked harder than most because of his conviction. He believed that the theatre, more particularly motion pictures, would get the right message to the most people most effectively.
(According to Y. Frank Freeman, vice-president of Paramount Pictures, DeMille films have been seen by more than four billion people, one and a half times the present population of the world. The latest release of “The Ten Commandments, which cost 13¼ million dollars to produce and grossed over 83½ million, has been seen by more than 98,500,000 people.)
DeMille exploited with unusual success the finest tool of mass communication ever possessed by man. He never pretended disinterest in the commercial opportunities. Nevertheless, he had a sense of calling which he shared with his father who, though trained for the Episcopal priesthood, never accepted ordination because he felt his ministry was to write for the theatre.
Describing the primitive circumstances under which they were forced to live while shooting the Mt. Sinai scenes of the Ten Commandments, he wrote, “the rigors seem well worth while. We are bringing to the screen of the world for the first time, in all their awesome ...1
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