A Life in Pictures

A delusional actress shoots her boy toy and then mistakes the news cameras for those of a movie set: “I’m ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille!” But in stark contrast to Sunset Boulevard’s Norma Desmond, director Cecil B. DeMille actually survived Hollywood’s transition from silent movies to talkies without flipping out. His first successes were silent classics such as The Squaw Man, Brewster’s Millions, Joan the Woman, and Don’t Change Your Husband. But even with the advent of sound, DeMille flourished with The Ten Commandments and The Greatest Show on Earth, which won the 1952 Oscar for Best Picture.

In a new book, Empire of Dreams: The Epic Life of Cecil B. DeMille, biographer Scott Eyman relies on previously unreleased family papers to fill in the holes of the director’s personal life. Maybe there’s a Sunset Boulevard-worthy breakdown in his past after all.
Wed., Sept. 8, 8 p.m., 2010