Selling the Silents #24

A page from the 1927 Paramount release book

(H.G. Wells) had long since dismissed the likelihood of his most famous novel ever being made into a movie. He knew the enormous scope of his book would make the cost of a film prohibitively expensive. So, when Paramount Pictures sought to purchase his novel in 1925 for Cecil B. DeMille, Wells gladly sold the studio executives at Paramount the rights in perpetuity.

In 1926, the studio announced the start of production on a big-screen adaptation of The War of the Worlds by DeMille as his follow-up to the enormously successful 1923 version of The Ten Commandments. The silent film was to be shot partially in color using the same 2-strip Technicolor process that had been used on previous films with the remainder of the picture in black & white. Shortly after Paramount Pictures' official announcement, The New York Times leaked a story that Arzen Doscerepy, a famous German technical expert who had been producing movies in Berlin, had been hired to complete the film's special effects. The Times reported that he had “spent two years perfecting devices and mechanisms which will make Wells’s Martians walk and spray death around the world.”

Doscerepy’s work was very similar to the stop-motion animation that Willis O’Brien had employed to make dinosaurs come to life in The Lost World (1925) and other films. Unfortunately, DeMille could not come up with a script that he liked, and he left the project in pre-production.
~From War of the Worlds: From Wells to Spielberg by John L. Flynn


Christopher said...

Would have been fun to see..War Of The Worlds seems like a natural for silent days C B DeMille

swac said...

DeMille plus stop-motion martians certainly sounds like my idea of a good time.

Supposedly, next in line for the project was Eisenstein, who opted to do Que Viva Mexico instead. Now that would have been something.

D Cairns said...

Beau Sabreur is a lost film, alas. Only a trailer exists.

swac said...

And American Tragedy wouldn't be filmed until 1931 by von Sternberg.

And White Slave never got made, not by Griffith or Dix, at any rate.

swac said...

And here's that Beau Sabreur trailer (the desert battle looks pretty spectacular):