Biography of Cecil Blount de Mille (1881-1959)

Director, producer and screenwriter of American cinema born in Ashfield (Massachusetts) on October 12, 1881 and died in Hollywood (California) on January 21, 1959.

Born into a creative family, his father was a teacher as well as actor and author dramatic - trajectory continued her other son, William - while his mother, also teacher, taught English classes at the Lockwood Academy in Brooklyn, the young Cecil decided to study drama in New York, where the family moved, after passing through the military school of Pennsylvania and be rejected as a soldier to fight in the war against Spain.

With the new century, in 1900, was able to perform some works on Broadway (A Repentance, To Have and to Hold, Hamlet, My Wife completo Husbands) and formed part of, among others, of the company of Mary Pickford, thanks to the help of the theatre director David Belasco, the friend of his father. Were years in which, in addition to marrying the actress Constance Adams, went on to produce and direct some works (The Bohemian, The Mikado, The Marriage Not) and write other solo or with his brother William (are of the Winds, The Stampede, The Royal Mounted, After Five, Church Play), what helped you to achieve sufficient experience and understand the stagingthe direction of actors and the entertainment industry in general. Perhaps it was acquired safety which encouraged him to enter squarely in the world of cinema, half who had good contacts and knew where many entrepreneurs.

Thus, in 1913 decided to create a production company called Jesse L. Lasky Feature Company, which counted as a partner with Samuel Goldwyn and Jesse Lasky and which later merged with the Famous Players to give place to the Famous Players Lasky. This platform allowed De Mille started his career as a director and screenwriter with films as the mestizo and the call of the North (both 1914) in a very prolific stage which was an excellent partner in the person of Alvin Wyckoff operator. From his early works showed a great concern for stories that had, from script - that he always cared with care-the representation. In this sense, it was part of the small group of directors who sought to consolidate an effective narrative structure for the progress of the story and the application of the resources necessary to obtain a greater expressiveness.

His orders actresses worked as Blanche Sweet (the girl of the Golden West, 1915), Geraldine Farrar (temptation, 1916;) Jeanne d ' arc, 1917) and Mary Pickford (soul of the summits; The little heroine, 1917). In those years, De Mille decided to work on more committed themes that evolved between the simple comedy and that one that studying in relationship issues, seen from the more conservative principles but which contained good critical dose for social Convention. In this sense, deepened sharply in the films interpreted by Gloria Swanson (men, 1918;) Male and female, 1919; Why change wife?; The strength of a wanting, 1920; The gentleman spring, 1921), which was endorsed by his interest in introducing the suggestion moralist contrasted by emanating sensuality of an actress with great resources. His ability to overcome all the problems that may arise after the screening was notable, to focus some of the most decisive passages in the historical past.

Since 1923, Cecil decided to expand their horizon as a producer. Allied with Adolph Zukor for the ten commandments (1923) and, two years later, became independent to constitute the Producers Distributing Corporation that held, among others, the King of Kings (1927); movies of big-budget and complex realization that, surprisingly, achieved a notoriety out of the ordinary and that marked the career of De Mille for a vast majority of viewers. This spectacular film locked up large doses of intimacy which, over the years, was valued much more. Own filmmaker confirmed that their work was far more attractive to direct certain melodramas such as triumph (1924), the bed of gold (1925) or the faithless (1929).

After the introduction of sound, De Mille was develop to the full their proposals. However, it did not find the right way between the history of the old West and the historical and biblical film. The western gave shelter to several films of singular interest and in the fugitive (1931), the third version that addressed the history of Edwin Milton Royle, presented a very interesting but misunderstood. With Buffalo Bill (1936), the director sought to enter into the legend not to forget needed romance between the characters of the story, and with Union Pacific (1939) wanted to rebuild the union of the country through the railway with the support of the men and women who lived and suffered for this achievement. In each case, De Mille was the ideal woman for their adventures and responded with equal force interpretative Lupe Vélez, Jean Arthur, Barbara Stanwyck or Paulette Goddard in Police mounted of the Canada (1940), Pirates of the Caribbean Sea (1942) and the inconquistables (1947).

The historical production was surrounded by the success that always aroused the overproduction in most of the public. The sign of the cross (1932) gathered the wealth of the great scenery with the sensuality and eroticism that emerged of relations that arose in the environment of Nero and his wife, Poppaea. Cleopatra (1934) was one of the most successful versions of all came so far to the character. Claudette Colbert, as in the previous film, it became the axis of the story that kept the sensual bet smart which worried both De Mille. The Crusades (1935) was a remarkable approach to a very distant history for the us, but in which Cecil got agglutinate basics - media and atmosphere - and create some of the most vibrant moments that are remembered in this type of movie.

Biblical themes are, for many, the references of the work of De Mille. Obviously, it got some of its most important dimensions, but the merchantability and the tone of overproduction that surrounded his works, remaining somewhat passionate and intimate character of its production. However, both Samson and Delilah (1949), in which Hedy Lamarr becomes tempted with the same force that was Gloria Swanson at the time, such as the ten commandments (1956), with two memorable performances of Chalton Heston and Yul Brynner, are two monumental contributions of one of the most complete directors which gave the classic Hollywood.

De Mille was an unconventional director. He was a fierce dictatorship over the shooting and also when preparing to detail their productions. In addition to having one of the best personal Secretaries that occurred in Hollywood, Gladys Rosson, was surrounded by a good team, especially operadores-directores of photography, apart from Wyckoff in its first stage, took advantage of later contributions of others such as J. Peverell Marley, Harold Rosson, Karl Struss and Victor Milner. He also influenced his work the work of Jeannie McPherson screenwriter and Anne Bauchens was the effective collaborator needed for the Assembly of almost all his films. Her creative route was based on the design of decorations - extensive exterior and lush and manicured Interior-which managed to combine large shares with other more intimate stories with a great event in the background, about mobile very well defined and relationships conflict that they emanate from the desire to communicate, although the characters to move between the light and the mysterious shadow that every human being contains.

Although he was one of the directors who founded in 1927 Hollywood cinematic arts and the Academy of Sciences and in 1949 received the honorary Oscar for his entire career, the work of Cecil B. de Mille wasn't very rewarded by the Academy. Did not the thirty the nominations and only highlight the Oscar to the best photograph of Milner by Cleopatra, Oscar to the best editing to Bauchens by Police mounted the Canada, Oscar the best special effects by pirates of the Caribbean Sea and the two Oscar best film and Best Original Screenplay that received the greatest show in the world.


[Mille was responsible for the production of almost all his films. He also oversaw and took over the production of more than one hundred unrelated movies]

As director:

1914: The mestizo; The call of the North; The Virginian; The man from home; What's his name; Rose of the rancho; Brewster completo millions (Co-Director); The master mind (Co-Director); The man on the box (Co-Director); The only are (Co-Director); The gost breaker (Co-Director & co-writer). 1915: the girl of the Golden West; The unafraid; The warrens of Virginia; The captive; The arab; The wild goose chase; Chimmie fadden; Kidling; Chimmie fadden out west; Caermen; The mark of the fire; Jewel amongst the mud. 1916: Temptation; The heart of Nora Flynn;The trail of the lonesome pine; María Rosa; The girl of the dreams. 1917: Joan of arc; Small heroin; Soul of the summits; The stone of the devil; The forgotten God. 1918: The whispering chorus; We cant have everything; Old wives for new; Tilli come back to you; The fugitive. 1919: Men; Male and female; Self-denial. 1920: why change wife?; The strength of a love. 1921: The gentleman spring; The forbidden fruit; A dreamer's paradise. 1922: Murderer!; Saturday night. 1923: The ten commandments; Adam's rib. 1924: Feet of clay; Triumph. 1925: The Golden bed; The footprint of the past. 1926: The Volga Boatmen. 1927: The King of Kings. 1929: The incredulous; Dynamite. 1930: madame Satan. 1931: The fugitive. 1932: The sign of the cross. 1933: Youth commands. 1934: Cleopatra; Four frightened people. 1935: The Crusades. 1936: Buffalo Bill. 1938: Corsairs of Florida. 1939: union Pacific. 1940: The Canada mounted police. 1942: Pirates of the Caribbean Sea. 1944: The Valley of the shadows. 1947: The inconquistables. 1949: Samson and Delilah. 1952: The greatest show in the world. 1956: The ten commandments.

Other papers as co-writer:

1914: The circus man. 1915: Cameo Kirby; The goose girl; The country boy; The governoor's lady; A gentleman of leisure; Snobs. 1916: The love mask. 1917: Lost and won: Betty to the rescue.


AA.VV.: Cecil B. de Mille. Tribute. Madrid: National Library of Spain, 1959.

Mille, Cecil B.: autobiography. Barcelona: Argos, 1960.

MOURLET, Michel: Cecil B. de Mille. Paris: Seghers, 1968.