Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Cecil B. DeMille and Gloria Swanson union - pt 2

I left you off where Gloria was denied to work with Cecil B. DeMille at Famous Players-Lasky, due to petty lawyers at Triangle. Gloria is between one crappy picture and another, not satisfied with her position.

Between pictures with Albert Parker I made a picture called Station Content with a director named Arthur Hoyt. It was quite poor, but a masterpiece compared with the picture I made after Secret Code. The new film was called Wife or Country. IN it I was not only successfully tricked into spying for the enemy, I also had to pay for my wrongdoing by swallowing a bottle of poison.
I had to grin and bear it for a week and a half of overacted, overdirected, overpatriotic nonsense. Where do I go from here? I thought to myself as I swallowed the bottle of poison and lightning Hopper screamed "Perfect! Cut!"

Swanson on Swanson (1980), p. 100

Gloria Swanson, 1919.

The following morning the studio manager called and asked if he could come to the house in an hour and talk to me. I couldn't imagine what he meant, so I told Bea [a friend] not to leave. When he arrived, it was to announce that Triangle was facing bankruptcy.
"Does that mean you're closing the studio?" I asked.
"The studio has two months more to exercise its option," he explained. "But Mr. Aitken and his brother thought that you might want to get out of your contract immediately. That's why I'm here."
"Oh, they did, did they? After what they did to me?"
"The truth of the matter is, Miss Swanson, Mr. De Mille still wants you. He's tried several times to borrow you. His office called again yesterday."
"Why didn't anybody tell me?"
"There was no reason to make you more unhappy than you already were. If you like, I'll call Famous Players for you right now."
I showed him to the telephone. In five minutes he reappeared, saying, "Mr. Goodstadt is waiting to talk to you."

Swanson on Swanson (1980), p. 100

Gloria Swanson, 1919.

"Good morning, Miss Swanson, " Mr. Goodstadt said. "I think you should come right over if you can. By the time you get here, I'll have a chance to talk to Mr. De Mille. I know he's most anxious to replace his leading lady - if you're available, that is. You might bring the gentleman from Triangle along if he has a copy of your contract with him. I'd like to look it over."
The studio manager and I had nothing more to say to each other as he drove me to Sunset and Vine. What a difference, I thought, between Triangle, where they shot an entire picture, with retakes, in ten days, and Mr. De Mille, who could stop in the middle of a costly picture and change leading ladies.
Mr. Goodstadt was waiting for us in his office. "I talked to Mr. De Mille," he said. "He's delighted you're available. You can come in tomorrow morning at seven. Hattie will be waiting for you to do your hair."

Swanson on Swanson (1980), p. 101

Read about Gloria's first day under the direction of Cecil B. DeMille in part three - coming up!


Alexis said...

I love Gloria Swanson and I think it's AMAZING that they used actual footage from one of her lesser popular (or maybe unreleased i forget) films in Sunset Blvd.

She was remarkable!

Lolita said...

It's a funny detail! The footage is from her unfinished film Queen Kelly, directed by Erich von Stroheim (who plays her butler Max) - now, that's clever!

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