Author John Kobal was an accomplished film historian with a deep interest in the massive body of work that director and producer Cecil B. DeMille achieved. DeMille is rememberd as one of American cinema’s founding fathers, producing many commercially successful films in the Silent Era and well after the transition to sound.
Kobal researched DeMille’s work astutely, even being the first film historian to have full access to DeMille’s home, where his papers, collections, and memorabilia were housed essentially the way DeMille had left them upon his death in 1959. The treasures he found in DeMille’s home helped to weave together the narrative of The Lost World of DeMille, in addition to Kobal’s many other publications about DeMille. Kobal incorporates DeMille’s telegrams, letters, memos, and files in his works, which he was able to publish with permission from the DeMille estate.
The Lost World of DeMille was completed just before Kobal’s passing in 1991. Though a contract had been signed to publish his last work, the work remained a manuscript for decades. Thanks to Kobal’s sister, Monika Kobal, the manuscript was reclaimed and proposed for publication through the University Press of Mississippi. Kobal’s two-volume, 1,100-paged work was shortened for the publisher and released in one volume–finally published in 2019.
Kobal’s book portrays DeMille in an intriguing light. While focusing upon DeMille, many other noteworthy Hollywood stars appear in the story, making the book seem more of an inviting lecture as opposed to a traditional biography. Coupled with striking photographs in black and white as well as in color, Kobal’s passion for portraying the many achievements of DeMille is to be commended. The Lost World of DeMille is not only a fitting tribute to DeMille but, now, also a tribute to Kobal.
The Lost World of DeMille is available for purchase through the University Press of Mississippi.