|Mignon Toby||(? - ?)|
Children: Jean Mignon (c. 1921) and Suzanne (c. 1927)
Attended Yale University, the University of Edinburgh and the Art Students League in New York.
First worked in film design and special effects as assistant to Anton Grot. He was at Famous Players-Lasky from 1919. He drew inspiration from German Expressionism and from the work of D.W. Griffith. He worked as an art director from 1922. At United Artists (1923-30 and 1935-40) and Fox (1931-33), he designed for stars like Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, and for all of the major independent producers, including Samuel Goldwyn, David O. Selznick and Walter Wanger. His flamboyant and exotic fairy-tale sets for The Thief of Bagdad (1924) are regarded to this day as a work of pure genius. From the beginning of the sound era, Menzies also got involved in directing and producing. During the 1940s he worked frequently with director Sam Wood, whose films he improved dramatically through his designs.
He was noted for his powerful personality, visual flair and love of adventure and fantasy in films. He defined and solidified the role of the art director as having overall control over the look of the finished film. Menzies was a tireless innovator, who meticulously pre-planned the color and design of each film through a series of continuity sketches that outlined camera angles, lighting and the position of actors in each scene. For Gone with the Wind (1939), he and J. McMillan Johnson drew some 2000 detailed watercolor sketches. An historian, Wilbur G. Kurtz, was also brought in for accuracy of period detail. Menzies himself directed the famous burning of Atlanta sequence and hospital sequence, including the famous long shot of wounded and dying Confederate soldiers, taken from a 90-foot crane.
Inducted into the Art Directors Guild Hall of Fame in 2005.
Served with the U.S. Expeditionary Forces during World War I.
Recipient of the first-ever Oscar for art direction for The Dove (1927).
He directed several films, but showed a surprising inability to draw particularly good performances from his actors. As a result, others were often brought in as co-directors, forcing Menzies to share the credit. In the 1950s he helmed several low-budget films, which stand out purely for characteristically good visuals, notably Invaders from Mars (1953).
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