Larry Mantle

Cecil B. DeMille's eye for the epic and memories of Eddie Fisher

Friday morning on Film Week on AirTalk, we talked with Scott Eyman about his new biography of epic director Cecil B. DeMille.  Though DeMille might not be considered in the upper-echelon artistically, Eyman’s book makes a terrific case for DeMille’s eye being one of the greatest of all time.

Eyman said that DeMille’s silent films were significantly better than the better known ones that followed.  When movies were all about the visuals, and not dialogue, he could shine.

Though Steven Spielberg is sometimes compared to DeMille, it seems James Cameron is the more accurate comparison – a director who creates epic films with stunning images, and often clunky dialogue.  As long as you go in with the understanding of the directors’ tin ears, it’s possible to enjoy the technically ambitious work they’ve created.

The death of singer Eddie Fisher reminds me of the time I spent with him after my interview with him for his 1999 memoir.  Fisher stayed at the studio talking with us for over half-an-hour.  He told great stories, while being candid about all the ways he’d sabotaged his own career.

What was hard to reconcile was the aged man in front of me with the heartthrob of the 50s.  This was the man who was married to Debbie Reynolds, Elizabeth Taylor, and Connie Stevens?  However, his engaging manner made it clearer how these women must have found him so appealing.  Eddie Fisher was quite a charmer and raconteur.

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