• Bible Films Blog

    Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the Bible - past, present and future, as well as preparation for a future work on Straub/Huillet's Moses und Aron and a few bits and pieces on biblical studies.

    Matt Page


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    Thursday, June 28, 2007

    Did Edgar J. Banks make films with Cecil B. DeMille?

    Peter T. Chattaway has a piece on claims that Indiana Jones-style archaeologist Edgar J. Banks (right) made films with Cecil B. DeMille. (How that for a string of initialised middle names?).

    The story surfaced at The Villages Daily Sun paper in Florida. Here's the interesting bit:
    [Banks] made motion pictures with famed director Cecil B. DeMille

    "They were involved in a company known as Sacred Films," Wasilewska [Banks' biographer] said. "The films were not only 'Sacred,' they were secret. The company wasn’t registered anywhere. But it really did exist."

    That incredible claim is supported by about 200 old movie stills from sets of Biblical epics Banks’ late daughter, Daphne McLachlan, left to her children.

    "In 1920, at the beginning of moviemaking, a lot of people were making movies about Biblical events. But they were all poor-quality, low-budget productions," Wasilewska said. "This was very different. This was high-class, very professional. It was a secret company, but many important people were involved, including famous actors and actresses."

    What became of the films is one of many puzzles related to Banks. Banks’ next endeavor is also shrouded in mystery.

    "With the experience he got in California, he saw he could start a company in Florida to produce his own films," Wasilewska said. "He used local actors, and so it would not be very expensive."

    Banks’ company, Seminole Films, made movies depicting life in ancient Rome and Greece, but the world never saw the films. In a weird twist of irony, the archaeologist who brought so many treasures out of the ground, deposited his cinematic efforts into the earth.

    "He actually did make some movies, but none were released," Wasilewska said. "He opened this company and he couldn’t sell the movies he made, so one day he packed all of the movies in tin cans and buried them on his property."

    The movies were never recovered.
    I'll try and remember to check my DeMille biography and auto-biography to see if there is any mention of Banks. I may also check the credits for DeMille's 1923 version of The Ten Commandments to see if Banks is mentioned there at all.

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