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Cinema Corporation of America Collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 01-MSS 2004-008

Scope and Contents

The Cinema Corporation of America Collection documents Cecil B. DeMille's role in the founding of the company and its film distribution activities in later years under Vice President Alan F. Martin. The collection includes production materials for "The King of Kings" and other films; correspondence, business records, legal materials; educational filmstrips; religious film catalogs, and the "Cap Stubbs and Tippie" newspaper cartoon strips created and drawn by Edwina Dumm, which first appeared in 1918. They were purchased by the Cinema Corporation of America in the mid 1920s.

Dates

  • Created: 1925-1981
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1925-1932

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to all researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has not been assigned to the Florida State University Libraries.

All requests for permission to quote, publish, broadcast or otherwise reproduce from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Associate Dean for Special Collections and Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Florida State University Libraries as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

Biographical or Historical Information

In 1916, American motion-picture director and producer Cecil B. DeMille became "director general" of the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, the nucleus of what would soon become Paramount Pictures. According to DeMille archivist James D'Arc at Brigham Young University's Film Music Archives, DeMille, in early 1922, terminated his ties with Famous Players-Lasky, purchased the Ince Studio in Culver City, California, and formed his own production unit, Cecil B. DeMille Productions, Inc. This company operated under the aegis of Paramount Pictures for most of the rest of his career. DeMille contracted to release his films through Jeremiah Milbank's Producers Distributing Corporation. The Ince Studio later became Selznick International Pictures, and finally became Pathe.

From 1919-1922, DeMille concentrated on producing and directing films that portrayed a liberated sexual morality, while continuing to endorse traditional values. By 1923, however, the Hollywood film industry was charged with promoting immorality. While attempting to help redeem the industry from these charges, DeMille decided to produce a new film genre for which he was best known for the remainder of his career: spectacular historical and biblical epics. The first two examples of these productions, "The Ten Commandments" (1923; silent version) and "The King of Kings" (1927; originally silent), were immediately successful at the box office. According to Alan F. Martin's son Robert, "The King of Kings" premiere was the film that opened Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. To take advantage of the newly introduced technique of sound, "The King of Kings" went into general release in 1928, complete with a score arranged by Hugo Riesenfeld. Since that time, the film has been seen in this form.

In 1925, DeMille left Paramount Pictures and organized the Cinema Corporation of America as a holding company that owned the stock of the Producer's Distributing Corporation and a new subsidiary, Cecil B. DeMille Pictures Corporation, controlled jointly by Milbank and DeMille. DeMille's position in the corporation was undermined by the fact that his features - those directed by himself as well as those under his supervision at DeMille Productions - were earning modest, if any, profits. His $2 million expenditure for "The King of Kings," although the film was quite successful, "created a crisis that threatened bankruptcy" and led to the merger of Producer's Distributing Corporation, the Keith Albee-Orpheum chain, and the Pathe Exchange in 1927. That year, Keith Albee-Orpheum was renamed Radio-Keith-Orpheum (RKO), and RKO took over control of Pathe. Cinema Corporation of America was kept in existence for the purpose of distributing "The King of Kings." It owned the copyright to that film, which was renewed in 1955.

DeMille's alliance with Cinema Corporation of America was short-lived, however, and in 1928 he took his staff from Cecil B. DeMille Productions, Inc. to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. At his request, DeMille rejoined Paramount in 1931, and began producing and directing lavish films such as "The Sign of the Cross (1932), "Cleopatra" (1934), and "The Crusades" (1935). From that time on, DeMille's association with larger-than-life, big-budget films became legendary.

Through the work of the Cinema Corporation of America and its Vice-President Alan F. Martin, Cecil B. DeMille's most enduring film, "The King of Kings," has been in constant theatrical and non-theatrical distribution since 1927. According to Robert Martin, his father "was the single reason 'The King of Kings' stayed available to the public for close to 40 years." Alan F. Martin created the educational film strips and study guides for the movie and had the titles translated into dozens of languages. The film was used by missionaries all over the world and was still being shown by church groups and in theatres into the 1970s. In August 1971, Cinema Corporation of America sold all of its assets, including its copyright to "The King of Kings," to Modern Sound Pictures.

Extent

5.70 Linear Feet

Abstract

The Cinema Corporation of America Collection documents the history of this film distribution company, and American producer and director Cecil B. DeMille's role in its founding.

Method of Acquisition

The Cinema Corporation of America Collection was given to Special Collections by Mr. Robert Martin in July 2004.

Existence and Location of Originals

Portions of collection available online?: No

Processing Information

This collection was processed from December 2004-January 2005 by Burt Altman.
Title
Cinema Corporation of America Collection
Author
Burt Altman
Date
00/00/2005
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the FSU Special Collections & Archives Repository

Contact:
116 Honors Way
PO Box 3062047
Tallahassee FL 32306-2047 US
850-644-3271