cover image Empire of Dreams: The Epic Life of Cecil B. DeMille

Empire of Dreams: The Epic Life of Cecil B. DeMille

Scott Eyman, Simon & Schuster, $35 (552p) ISBN 978-0-74328-955-2

Following biographies of Ingrid Bergman, John Ford, Louis B. Mayer, Ernst Lubitsch, Louis B. Mayer, and Mary Pickford, Eyman, book editor of the Palm Beach Post, offers an in-depth look at producer-director DeMille. Born in 1881, DeMille started as an actor on Broadway in 1900. During the silent movie era, he directed 52 films: "Fully ten are superb or close to it, while another dozen or so are quite good." In the decades that followed, his name became synonymous with "sin, spectacle and reverence," notably with such films as Samson and Delilah and The Ten Commandments. Eyman set out to "create a three dimensional portrait of a man who was capable of heroism and loyalty, as well as grievous wrongheadedness, but always in the grand manner." With access to DeMille's letters and personal papers, he has succeeded, capturing the showman's commanding and authoritarian presence on lavish film sets along with intimate details of his home life. Eyman's evocative prose and exhaustive research makes this an engaging and authoritative biography. (Sept.)