Mitchell Leisen

Director, Production designer, Costume designer
Long neglected by critics and film historians, director and art director Mitchell Leisen underwent a reexamination in later years, leading to more appreciation of his work. While not on par with contemporaries like ... Read more »
Born: 10/06/1898 in Menominee, Michigan, USA

Filmography

Director (31)

Thriller 1960 - 1962 (Tv Show)

Director

Girl Most Likely 1958 (Movie)

(Director)

Bedevilled 1955 (Movie)

(Director)

Captain Carey, U.S.A. 1950 (Movie)

(Director)

To Each His Own 1946 (Movie)

(Director)

Frenchman's Creek 1943 (Movie)

(Director)

No Time For Love 1942 (Movie)

(Director)

Hold Back the Dawn 1940 (Movie)

(Director)

Remember the Night 1939 (Movie)

(Director)

Midnight 1938 (Movie)

(Director)

The Big Broadcast of 1938 1937 (Movie)

(Director)

Easy Living 1936 (Movie)

(Director)

Swing High, Swing Low 1936 (Movie)

(Director)

Death Takes a Holiday 1933 (Movie)

(Director)

Arise, My Love (Movie)

(Director)

Dream Girl (Movie)

(Director)

Golden Earrings (Movie)

(Director)

Hands Across the Table (Movie)

(Director)

I Wanted Wings (Movie)

(Director)

Kitty (Movie)

(Director)

Masquerade in Mexico (Movie)

(Director)

Murder at the Vanities (Movie)

(Director)

No Man of Her Own (Movie)

(Director)

Practically Yours (Movie)

(Director)

Spree (Movie)

(Director)

Suddenly It's Spring (Movie)

(Director)

Take a Letter, Darling (Movie)

(Director)

The Big Broadcast of 1937 (Movie)

(Director)

The Lady Is Willing (Movie)

(Director)

The Mating Season (Movie)

(Director)

Tonight We Sing (Movie)

(Director)
Art Department (8)

Dynamite 1928 (Movie)

art direction (Art Director)

King of Kings 1926 (Movie)

art direction (Art Director)

Conrad in Quest of His Youth (Movie)

(Set Designer)

His Dog (Movie)

(Production Designer)

The Road to Yesterday (Movie)

(Production Designer)

The Road to Yesterday (Movie)

(Set Designer)

The Sign of the Cross (Movie)

(Production Designer)

The Squaw Man (Movie)

(Art Director)
Producer (6)

No Time For Love 1942 (Movie)

(Producer)

Remember the Night 1939 (Movie)

(Producer)

Kitty (Movie)

(Producer)

Practically Yours (Movie)

(Producer)

Take a Letter, Darling (Movie)

(Producer)

The Lady Is Willing (Movie)

(Producer)
Wardrobe, Hair & Makeup (5)

Male and Female 1918 (Movie)

(Costume Designer)

Rosita (Movie)

(Costume Designer)

Take a Letter, Darling (Movie)

(Costume Designer)

The Lady Is Willing (Movie)

(Costume Designer)

The Sign of the Cross (Movie)

(Costume Designer)
Actor (4)

Variety Girl 1947 (Movie)

(Actor)

Hold Back the Dawn 1940 (Movie)

Mr. Dwight Saxon (Actor)

Golden Earrings (Movie)

(Actor)

Miss Tatlock's Millions (Movie)

Himself (Actor)
Production Management (3)

Dynamite 1928 (Movie)

(Assistant Director)

The Sign of the Cross (Movie)

(first Assistant Director)

The Squaw Man (Movie)

(first Assistant Director)

Biography

Long neglected by critics and film historians, director and art director Mitchell Leisen underwent a reexamination in later years, leading to more appreciation of his work. While not on par with contemporaries like Ernst Lubitsch or Preston Sturges, Leisen did helm a number of notable screwball comedies that have stood the test of time. After making his mark with "Death Takes a Holiday" (1934), he excelled in the genre with "Hands Across the Table" (1935) and "Swing High, Swing Low" (1937), both starring Carole Lombard and Fred MacMurray. He went on to direct the excellent romantic comedy "Remember the Night" (1940) and the tragic melodrama "Hold Back the Dawn" (1941), before becoming a notable actress' director with "To Each His Own" (1946) and "The Mating Season" (1951). His feature career dropped off in the mid-1950s, with Leisen turning to television by helming episodes of "The Twilight Zone" (CBS, 1959-1964) and "Wagon Train" (NBC/ABC, 1957-1965). But in his waning days, Leisen directed less substantial films that were better left forgotten. Less a maverick than his more accomplished contemporaries, at the height of his powers, Leisen was an expert craftsman of opulent productions that more often than not featured strong performances, witty banter and lavish set pieces.

Relationships

Father
partner in Leisen and Hennes Brewing Company divorced from Leisen's mother c. 1899

Mother
after divorce from Leisen's father, moved to St Louis, Missouri remarried

Eddie Anderson

Companion
together briefly in 1937-38

Billy Daniels

Companion
met c. 1938

Marguerite DeLaMotte

Companion
met in 1922 relationship lasted for several years

Sondra Gahle

Wife
lived in Paris

Natalie Visart

Companion
had relationship in 1930s she miscarried their child

EDUCATION

attended a military boarding school

Washington University

St Louis, Missouri

Milestones

1969

Had left leg amputated

1967

Credited as co-director of the documentary "Spree", which utilized footage he had shot in prior years

1957

Made last feature "The Girl Most Likely"

1955

Began directing for television

1951

Had modest success with "The Mating Season", featuring a strong supporting performance from Thelma Ritter

1950

Rebounded with the film noir "No Man of Her Own"

1950

Critical response to "Captain Carey, USA" was also considered a bomb; film is remembered for its theme "Mona Lisa"

1948

Experienced a downturn in career with the film version of Elmer Rice's play "Dream Girl"

1947

Last film with MacMurray, "Suddenly It's Spring"

1946

Directed de Havilland to an Oscar in "To Each His Own"

1943

Helmed the screen version of "Lady in the Dark"; also rewrote script and designed costumes

1940

Last collaboration with Brackett and Wilder, "Hold Back the Dawn", starring Olivia de Havilland and Charles Boyer

1940

Directed second Sturges script, "Remember the Night"

1939

Helmed what many feel is his masterpiece, "Midnight", starring Claudette Colbert, Don Ameche and John Barrymore; first of three scripts by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett

1938

Had success with "The Big Broadcast of 1938" which introduced Bob Hope's signature song "Thanks for the Memories"; suffered first heart attack at the end of filming in November 1937

1937

Directed "Easy Living", scripted by Preston Sturges

1935

First of nine feature collaborations with Fred MacMurray, "Hands Across the Table"; also starred Carole Lombard

1934

Helmed "Death Takes a Holiday", starring Fredric March

1933

First film credited as director, "Cradle Song"

1933

Served as associate director on "Tonight Is Ours" and "The Eagle and the Hawk"

1933

Joined Paramount Pictures

1929

First credit as assistant director (to DeMille), "Dynamite"; also designed sets; received Oscar nomination for Best Art Direction

1925

Returned to work for DeMille as a set dresser; later promoted to art director

1924

Created the costumes for "The Thief of Bagdad"

1922

Left DeMille to join United Artists; worked as a costume designer; first film for UA "Robin Hood", starring Douglas Fairbanks

1919

Hired to design costumes for Cecil B DeMille's "Male and Female"; put under contract by DeMille

1919

Began designing stage sets for the Hollywood Community Theatre

1918

Moved to Hollywood to pursue an acting career (date approximate)

1904

Underwent operation to correct a club foot at age five (date approximate)

Raised in St Louis, Missouri by mother and stepfather

Moved to Chicago after graduating from college

SIMILAR ARTICLES