YES, MR.DEMILLE (1959)

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"B" AS IN BARNUM 315 Java without specific instructions, in an emergency that called for swift decision. He hoped he had done the right thing but he was disciplined in the Navy's rigid chain of command. It struck him that the Secretary might now be acting on his behavior, with perhaps even a court martial in the offing. Wassell was met in Los Angeles and told to go to the office of a film director named Cecil DeMille. Though considerably relieved, Wassell was puzzled when he took a chair in DeMille's office. "You are going to be the subject of a motion picture," DeMille said. The obscure medico from the Arkansas hills rose from his seat, his face flushed. "A what! Motion picture! I don't care to be in a motion pic- ture/' "Not exactly you," said DeMille, gently. "You will be played by Gary Cooper, if we can sign him up for the part/' Wassell was not impressed. Cooper or no Cooper, he didn't like the idea. DeMille was sympathetic; he realized what the doctor had been through, but he owed it to America, the Navy, the Presi- dent and the Secretary to demonstrate to the world the caliber of our men in service. It was inevitable that the course of the Wassell film would not be smooth. Wassell looked intently to Navy protocol, while DeMille sought to keep his ear attuned to boxoffice values. When the picture was premiered in Washington, officialdom waited expectantly to hear DeMille call Dr. Wassell onto the stage during the opening ceremonies. Not Wassell but Cooper was summoned before the capacity audience. As a showman, DeMille knew the danger of destroying an illusion. "Gary Cooper is the hero of Java in our film," DeMille explained to his staff later. "Cooper is Wassell. That's what the public must believe/'