Hollywood: Season 1, Episode 7

Autocrats (19 Feb. 1980)

TV Episode  |   |  Documentary, History
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Autocratic directors like the martinet Cecil B. DeMille and the idiosyncratic Eric Von Stroheim are highlighted in this episode.

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Episode credited cast:
Himself - Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Karl Brown ...
Valerie Germonprez ...
Herself (as Mrs. Valerie von Stroheim)
A. Arnold Gillespie ...
Henry Hathaway ...
Paul Ivano ...
Henry King ...
Paul Kohner ...
Anita Loos ...
Albert S. Rogell ...
Himself (as Al Rogell)
Adela Rogers St. Johns ...


Autocratic directors like the martinet Cecil B. DeMille and the idiosyncratic Eric Von Stroheim are highlighted in this episode. DeMille's films were sex-filled and very popular while Von Stroheim's were needlessly costly and self indulgent. DeMille went on to great success in the sound era while Von Stroheim's directorial career was over by the end of the Twenties. Written by duke1029@aol.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis






Release Date:

19 February 1980 (UK)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


James Mason: If one producer ever symbolized Hollywood, it was Cecil B. DeMille.
See more »


Features Greed (1924) See more »


The Merry Widow Waltz
Composed by Franz Lehár (1905)
Played during clips from Von Stroheim's "The Merry Widow" film.
See more »

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User Reviews

Hollywood Episode 7
28 August 2010 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

Hollywood: Autocrats (1980)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

The seventh episode takes a look at two of the most remembered directors of the silent era. First up is a bit on Cecil B. DeMille who, like Griffith, started off as an actor but when that didn't work he switched over to directing. Through interviews we learn that DeMille was a perfectionist who would stop at nothing to make sure everything on screen was his idea. If this meant screaming at women until they cried then so be it as long as he got his way. We see his early successes like THE CHEAT and how this grew into bigger pictures like MALE AND FEMALE, MANSLAUGHTER and his religious epics. DeMille's niece is on hand to tell a few stories and it's clear she really doesn't think too highly of him as she's constantly getting in the fact that he liked to mistreat people. Gloria Swanson is also on hand to share a few stories as well as explain why the two of them worked so well together. The second half of this episode takes a look at the career of Erich von Stroheim, which started under Griffith before making his directorial debut with BLIND HUSBANDS. That wil, along with FOOLISH WIVES, made him a star but Universal and Irving Thalberg fired him because of his desire to go over budget. We then hear about the making of GREED, how it was taken away from him and how the rest of his directorial career had one disaster after another. If not a disaster at the box office he was a disaster for those working with him. Karl Brown perfectly sums up his feelings by saying he feels von Stroheim was abused at some point of his life and decided to use his genius to ruin other people. There's no doubt that very few good words are said about the man himself but you can't deny what he did with his films. Swanson is interviewed about their one film together, which she hired him for yet QUEEN KELLY would never get a theatrical release in the U.s.. Both stories are told extremely well even though both have had longer documentaries made since this was released. Fans of silent cinema will certainly enjoy seeing the old film clips as well as interviews.

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