Talking pictures : how they are made and how to appreciate them (1937)

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Talking Pictures But for the first week of the picture the last two assets seemed destined to turn into liabilities. Life had been so pleasant, success had come so easily, that the young actress could do little else but smile. But the picture called upon her to be the center of a very tragic situation. DeMille talked and explained, but the actress only smiled, and her tragic scenes were wooden and unconvincing. It seemed impossible to break the psychological barrier which kept back the deeper emotions of the girl. It was obvious from her vitality and her abounding health that those emotions were present in her soul. How could they be brought to the surface? DeMille, as a last resort, determined to use harsh methods. He called the girl and her brother to his office. The invitation to the brother was deliberate. People are much more sensitive to a psychological slap in the face if a member of the family is present. Brusquely, he told the girl she was discharged, that he was putting another actress in her place. In an in- stant the psychological barrier melted. She fell on her knees by DeMille's chair. She wept. She told him that his action would ruin her professional career. DeMille picked up a hand mirror which he had placed conveniently on his desk. Handing it to her, he said, "Now look at yourself. See how relaxed you are. See the muscles in your face. At last you have released your deeper emotions. Look at yourself again; then look at these pictures." He handed her photographs of herself in scenes from the photoplay. [158]