Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Norman Bel Geddes (American, 1893-1958)
Scene rendering ("Archangel Michael sweeping his sword beneath Satan's feet") for Sorrows of Satan
1926
Charcoal on board

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Norman Bel Geddes Database

Job 105, Sorrows of Satan, 1925-1926

Summary: The success of The Miracle attracted the attention of Hollywood film producer Jesse Lasky and led to commissions for production design work for directors Cecil B. DeMille (Feet of Clay, 1924) and D. W. Griffith (Sorrows of Satan, 1925).

In Sorrows of Satan, Bel Geddes depicted a climactic battle between good and evil with high-contrast lighting—Satan rendered in dark shadows—and a swirling mass of angels and demons traversing a grand stairway. As the New York World reported, he achieved the effect of “a foggy, dim heaven ... a place of lights and hazy shadows” by spraying gallons of Nujol on the set with massive atomizers. Although he saved the studio $25,000 on the cost of the grand stairway by “building the steps out of flat and then tipping the camera to get his effect” he was reported to have erased the savings the next day on another set and was eventually released from the project.

Nujol was a brand of mineral oil also marketed at the time as a laxative.

The motion picture was adapted from Marie Corelli's book by Forrest Halsey, and from John Russell's treatment. It was produced by the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation. The cast included Adolphe Menjou, Ricardo Cortez, and Lya De Putti.

Hunter Code: MP 6
Hunter Guide: page 128


(click image for description)

Box/Location Folder Description
flat file b 1-12 Scene Renderings --- 12 Charcoal drawings.
flat file c 1-8 Costume Drawings --- 8 Patterns and drawings.
theater box 113 e 1 Preliminary Sketches --- 8 Settings.
theater box 113 h 1-9 Photographs --- Prints of 9 scene renderings.
theater box 113 h 10a Photographs --- 9 Production stills.
theater box 113 h 10b Photographs --- 5 Production stills.
negative box 39 h 11 Photographs --- 2 Negatives [see separation sheet in folder h 10b].
theater box 113 h 12 Photographs --- Record Copy Book of photos of scene renderings.
flat file h 13a-b Photographs --- 4 Production photos (1 from Robert Downing Collection).
flat file h 14 Photographs --- Prints and negatives of costume drawing.
theater box 113 i 1-2 Publicity --- Clippings 1926.
theater box 113 j 1 Correspondence --- Letter sent to Seymour Stern 1932.
theater box 113 k 1 Script --- Prologue, 'Heaven' or allegorical shooting sequence and versions of scene with ms. revisions.
flat file w 1 Costume Drawings --- 3 Patterns.
theater box 113 x 1 Captions for exhibit.
theater box 113 y 1 Autobiography draft excerpts.

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