NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN (ALMOST)
21st January, 1959 : Cecil B de Mille, the man who made “colossal” the adjective best suited to describe his pictures, is gone at 77. He died in Hollywood, the hamlet he discovered in 1913 when Sam Goldwyn sent him west to shoot The Squaw Man, the first six-reel Western. “Want authority to rent barn in place called Hollywood for 75 dollars a month,” he cabled back. He got it – but only for a month at a time.
De Mille won fame with his Biblical and Roman epics for Paramount. He proudly claimed that only one of his 70 films was a box office flop. He used Barnum-style showmanship (The Greatest Show on Earth) and relied on a formula of sensation, sex and religion. The Ten Commandments, perhaps his most renowned, is still running. In the latest, Samson and Delilah, Victor Mature pulls down the whole Paramount studio on himself.
[ He would be chuckled to see how his, Barnum inspired, crowd-pleasing vacuity took over the American (and other semi-democratic countries’) politics. ]