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Mitchell Leisen

Mitchell Leisen

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Also Known As: James Mitchell Leisen, "Mitele" Leisen Died: October 28, 1972
Born: October 6, 1898 Cause of Death: heart problems
Birth Place: Menominee, Michigan, USA Profession: director, production designer, costume designer, assistant director, actor, set decorator, businessman, architect, interior decorator

Biography CLOSE THE FULL 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...

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.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Spree (1967) Director
2.
  The Girl Most Likely (1958) Director
3.
  Bedevilled (1955) Director
4.
  Red Garters (1954) Director
5.
  Tonight We Sing (1953) Director
6.
  Young Man With Ideas (1952) Director
7.
  The Mating Season (1951) Director
8.
  Darling, How Could You! (1951) Director
9.
  Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950) Director
10.
  No Man of Her Own (1950) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Miss Tatlock's Millions (1948) Himself
2.
 Variety Girl (1947)
3.
 Hold Back the Dawn (1941) Mr. Saxon
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in St Louis, Missouri by mother and stepfather
1904:
Underwent operation to correct a club foot at age five (date approximate)
:
Moved to Chicago after graduating from college
1918:
Moved to Hollywood to pursue an acting career (date approximate)
1919:
Began designing stage sets for the Hollywood Community Theatre
1919:
Hired to design costumes for Cecil B DeMille's "Male and Female"; put under contract by DeMille
1922:
Left DeMille to join United Artists; worked as a costume designer; first film for UA "Robin Hood", starring Douglas Fairbanks
1924:
Created the costumes for "The Thief of Bagdad"
1925:
Returned to work for DeMille as a set dresser; later promoted to art director
1929:
First credit as assistant director (to DeMille), "Dynamite"; also designed sets; received Oscar nomination for Best Art Direction
1933:
Joined Paramount Pictures
1933:
Served as associate director on "Tonight Is Ours" and "The Eagle and the Hawk"
1933:
First film credited as director, "Cradle Song"
1934:
Helmed "Death Takes a Holiday", starring Fredric March
1935:
First of nine feature collaborations with Fred MacMurray, "Hands Across the Table"; also starred Carole Lombard
1937:
Directed "Easy Living", scripted by Preston Sturges
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
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
1940:
Directed second Sturges script, "Remember the Night"
1941:
Last collaboration with Brackett and Wilder, "Hold Back the Dawn", starring Olivia de Havilland and Charles Boyer
1944:
Helmed the screen version of "Lady in the Dark"; also rewrote script and designed costumes
1946:
Directed de Havilland to an Oscar in "To Each His Own"
1947:
Last film with MacMurray, "Suddenly It's Spring"
1948:
Experienced a downturn in career with the film version of Elmer Rice's play "Dream Girl"
1950:
Critical response to "Captain Carey, USA" was also considered a bomb; film is remembered for its theme "Mona Lisa"
1950:
Rebounded with the film noir "No Man of Her Own"
1951:
Had modest success with "The Mating Season", featuring a strong supporting performance from Thelma Ritter
1955:
Began directing for television
1957:
Made last feature "The Girl Most Likely"
1967:
Credited as co-director of the documentary "Spree", which utilized footage he had shot in prior years
1970:
Had left leg amputated
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Washington University: St Louis , Missouri -

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Marguerite DeLaMotte. Actor. Met in 1922; relationship lasted for several years.
wife:
Sondra Gahle. Opera singer. Lived in Paris.
companion:
Natalie Visart. Costume designer. Had relationship in 1930s; she miscarried thier child.
companion:
Eddie Anderson. Pilot. Together briefly in 1937-38.
companion:
Billy Daniels. Dancer. Met c. 1938.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Mitchell Leisen: Hollywood Director" Photoventures Press

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