Three unlikely cohorts, who knew nothing about the film business: an out-of-work theatrical director named C.B. DeMille, a vaudeville producer named Jessie Lasky and a Polish glove salesman calling himself Sam Goldfish set out to invent the movie business as we know it. Or die trying.
DeMille, Lasky and Goldfish come up with an insane and radically new idea. They would ignore the iron grip of Thomas Edison’s Trust and literally hawk the family silver to produce a western called THE SQUAW MAN. It was the first feature-length motion picture to be shot in a dusty cow-town in California called Hollywood, far from the rapacious grasp of Edison’s thugs.
Or so they thought.
C.B. DeMille’s conviction in the public’s fascination for spectacle and the magic of movies, combined with the courage of Sam Goldfish (a.k.a. Samuel Goldwyn), the financial savvy of Jesse Lasky and DeMille’s implacable will, ensured that the names of these three men would become synonymous with the motion picture business.
From DEMILLE DIRECTS:
INT. THEATRICAL STAGE – DAY
Cecil climbs onto the stage, plants himself directly before a footlight which casts a huge shadow behind him.
Movies! They take people to places they’ve never been to before! It’s the new theater that mankind has waited for and dreamed of!
Some say movies are truth. Others call them the devil’s handy work. I say the movies are a chance to share laughter and tears, to dream dreams, to inspire faith and to encourage hope. We can paint this on the screens of the world. Anything’s possible! Color pictures. Even talking pictures! We can write history with lightning!
We could make mountains out of molehills! Listen, I could sell a derby to an elephant if I believed in it. But there’s a big difference between a cowhide salesman and a cowshit salesman. The shit salesman better watch his step.
But what about the Edison Trust? He controls everything, from production to exhibition. Then we have to pay him 25% of everything we make.
Pay that Cossack 25%? I’ve got two words for you: Im-Possible.
I’ve got three words for you: Id- E-otic. You don’t go against Edison’s Trust. People get hurt.
They don’t get a red nickel! I thought you said business thrives on competition. Who does Edison think he is? Congress? I walked across Poland and half of Europe to get away from Cossacks like Edison. Maybe we didn’t invent pictures. But so what? We’ll reinvent them all over again. So if the goniffs who make the rules don’t want to let men like me and Jesse into this business, then we’ll make our own damn business and write our own damn rules. Listen to me slowly. No matter where you make the picture, long or short, with any actor, bad or worse, Goldfish can sell it.
If Lasky produces.
And DeMille directs.