Production Directors &
Generally the job of production designer and costume designer is combined under the generic term "art director". In its widest sense you can compare the function of an art director with that of a stage designer but the task of the latter is made much more complex by special effects.
At the beginning of film history art direction didn't play an essential
part, the film maker followed the example of the theater. Moreover the
static camera in those days didn't call for dramatic scenery. Optical illusion
met the expectations at that time.
Hollywood took up the idea immediately and so the Italien architects
conquered the USA.
In Germany the most important innovations were realised after World
War I - with Expressionism. The absolute heyday of this style was the movie
"Das Kabinett des Dr. Caligari" in 1920, where complete landscapes and
houses were shown in abstract. The leading authorities at that time were
Otto Hunte, Hermann Warm, Walter Röhrig, Robert Herlth, Karl Vollbrecht
and Erich Kettelhut. Germany held the leading position concerning art direction.
A special accuracy was required by historical movies. Each detail had to be right, be it with the Romans, Vikings, the knights etc. In these historical fields the costume designers found their challenge. The absolute sovereign was Edith Head, who was suggested for the "Oscar" for 35 films and was awarded an oscar eight times. The costume department" is also the only one where the number of women employed equaled that of men. Very busy "stars" were Dorothy Jeakins, Travilla, Irene Sharaff, Jean Louis, Walter Plunkett, Gile Steele, Charles LeMaire, Helen Rose, Julie Harris, Orry-Kelly and Theodora von Runkle. They all belong to those marvelous artists, who "kidnapped" the viewers to distant time and worlds as a result of their fantastic costumes.
It was the musical in the 30s which formed the climax, especially those
of Busby Berkeley, who brought together dreamlike costumes, breathtaking
scenery and an inimitable choreography. In this way he created his own
This short report is dedicated to the great doer in the background, at least for a short moment their names will flicker up in some of the readers memory. Unfortunately these great artists also belong to the "nameless" in the hard film business.