• 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


    Monday, July 02, 2007

    DeMille's Collaborations Redux

    I've mentioned the great Cecil B. DeMille in two posts recently, and I've done a bit of searching on them so I thought I'd refer back.

    The first was regarding Michael Curtiz. Peter Chattaway noted some similarities between Curtiz's Noah's Ark (1928) and DeMille's The Ten Commandments (1923). When I was preparing to write my review of Noah's Ark I came across some more information which suggested that the influence could have worked in both directions.

    Yesterday I was flicking through the the substantial liner notes for the Criterion Collection's release of DeMille's 1927 The King of Kings when I noticed some information regarding Noah's Ark. It seems DeMille was due to work on a similar project about Noah in 1926 called The Deluge, but the plug was pulled when DeMille got wind of Curtiz's project. This shows the two were at least partially aware of each other's work, and that execs then preferred to stop making a film if it was too similar to another (rather than go head to head as often happens today).

    Interestingly neither DeMille's autobiography, nor Charles Higham's biography mention Curtiz at all (at least, not in their indicies).

    Which leads me nicely onto the second post about DeMille to which I want to return. Last week I commented on a piece in the The Villages Daily Sun newspaper which claimed that DeMille made films with Edgar J. Banks (dubbed the original Indiana Jones). As with Curtiz there's no mention of Banks in the autobiography and Higham's book.

    I also (finally!) got hold of Henry S. Noerdlinger's book "Moses and Egypt: The Documentation to the Motion Picture the Ten Commandments" about the 1956 DeMille film. Again, despite the depth of information produced in this book, there's no mention of Banks. Admittedly, DeMille's later version of this film was not released until 10 years after Bank's death, but if DeMille and Banks really were working on films together it's strange that nothing Banks achieved merited a mention in Noerdlinger's book.

    That's not, at all, to say the story is a hoax, simply that if it is true it was one very well kept secret.

    I'll end on a trivia piece. DeMille made bible films with Banks, who was the inspiration for the Indiana Jones films made by Steven Spielberg, who also directed Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which included a clip from the 1956 Ten Commandments - a bible film directed by DeMille. I hope those people who love making these kind of links appreciate that one. I wonder if DeMille ever pondered making a film about Banks?

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