Author:Robert Hammond

Publisher:New Way Press

ISBN:13-978-0615673707:  ISBN: 10-0615673708

An undisputed pioneer in the development of American motion pictures, C.B. DeMille has understandably been the subject of numerous biographies and other works seeking to expose and explore the fascinating presence that, when he was not engaged in his principal occupations, dabbled on screen by treating Norma Desmond with kid gloves in Sunset Boulevard (directed not by DeMille but by Billy Wilder—a pairing I’d surely like to hear more about) and by providing an oddly appropriate gravel-voiced off-screen narration to DeMille’s blockbuster film, The Greatest Show on Earth. The latter film won an Oscar; the former should have, at least for Gloria Swanson as the delusional Norma.

Author Hammond is therefore in ample company in his fascination with this legendary director. According to notes accompanying Ready When You Are, Hammond has produced a novel, an epic biopic, and a screenplay about DeMille.

Ready When You Are is part self-help advisory, part collection of articles by and about DeMille, and part printed trailer for Hammond’s other works on the subject.

The self-help part of the book, actually its centerpiece, is based on DeMille’s signature film, The Ten Commandments. The commandments are: be humble, amazed, ready, wise, steadfast, courageous, spectacular, visionary, truthful, and generous. Though a bit more general than God’s, these commandments are fairly unassailable advisories. The value of the short chapters that describe them lies not so much in their titular mandatory injunctions, but rather in the anecdotes about DeMille that accompany them.

The ones I found most fascinating were those that told of DeMille’s assistance to other trade members, from the newbie Ayn Rand to the majestic but fading Edward G. Robinson, how he dealt with the highly suspect dryness of the ocean floor during the parting of the Red Sea, and the imagination he used in conquering hard props like leopards and hard lighting conditions like shadows in the desert.

Other parts of the book provide valuable insights into DeMille’s tenets of directing, from the importance of theme and getting actors to give it a thought as well as the inadvisability of overly explicit instruction to actors.

It would be unfair to expect a legendary director to be a whiz at writing, and the few excerpts from DeMille’s own articles do nothing to question this premise. There’s a fair amount of “important,” “interesting,” and “very, very” around. One passage is repeated verbatim in a later section of the book, and there are other instances of editorial inattention.

However, if one is looking for a Reader’s Digest glimpse into the genius that guided Hollywood for decades, you’ll no doubt enjoy and be ready when C.B. DeMille is.

Follow Here To Purchase Ready When You Are: Cecil B. DeMille's Ten Commandments for Success