Cecil B. DeMille was known for his grande spectacles. Along with the lavish sets and the grandeur of the cinematography comes these massive action scenes, with big armies fighting each other. On the movie poster, Cecil B. DeMille even says, “Cast of 10,000”. Just looking at all the stunt performers needed to make these scenes work as well as they do is mind boggling. That is why I honor these stunt performers here by acknowledging them here for the Best Movie Stunts for 1935.
DeMille had a reputation for tyrannical behavior on the set, and he despised actors who were unwilling to take physical risks. Such was the case with Victor Mature in Samson and Delilah, when Mature refused to wrestle the lion, though the lion was tame and toothless. (DeMille remarked that Mature was “100% yellow”). Paulette Goddard’s refusal to risk personal injury in a scene involving fire in Unconquered cost her DeMille’s favor and probably a role in The Greatest Show on Earth. DeMille was, however, adept at directing “thousands of extras”, and many of his pictures included spectacular set pieces, such as the parting of the Red Sea in both versions of The Ten Commandments, the toppling of the pagan temple in Samson and Delilah, train wrecks in The Road to Yesterday, Union Pacific and The Greatest Show on Earth, and the destruction of a zeppelin in Madame Satan.
Stuntman Jack Montgomery, who played a Christian cavalryman in the film, recalled in an interview the tension that existed between director Cecil B. DeMille and the dozens of stuntmen hired to do the battle scenes. The stuntmen resented what they saw as DeMille’s cavalier attitude about safety, especially as several stuntmen had been injured, because of what the stuntmen perceived as DeMille’s indifference. At one point DeMille was standing on the parapets of the castle, yelling through his megaphone at the “combatants” gathered below. One of them, who had been hired for his expertise at archery, finally tired of DeMille’s screaming at them, notched an arrow into his bow and fired it at DeMille’s megaphone, the arrow embedding itself into the megaphone just inches from DeMille’s head. DeMille quickly left the set and didn’t come back for the rest of the day. For the rest of the picture, he never yelled at the stuntmen again.
The Crusades was directed by Cecil B. De Mille for Paramount Pictures.
Things to look up (click on item to go to IMDB page):
Stunt Performers Listed on IMDB:
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