Cat no. 226506

British Cinema History Research Project Oral Histories: Anthony Mendleson (costume designer)

1993

Anthony Mendleson (February 1915 - October 1996)
Interviewed by Linda Wood

Initially a painter and designer for the stage, Anthony Mendleson joined the staff of Ealing Studios as costume designer and wardrobe supervisor in 1947. He remained at Ealing until the studio closed, designing for most of the studio's classics including 'Kind Hearts and Coronets' (1949) and 'The Man in the White Suit' (1951). During the 1960s and 70s he worked at Pinewood, on a wide variety of films, including 'The Yellow Rolls Royce' (1964), and 'Oh! What a Lovely War' (1969), for which he was awarded a BAFTA.

In this interview he talks in detail to Linda Wood about his work at Ealing, the working atmosphere of the studio, and the specific demands of designing for black and white and for Technicolor. He discusses the role of the costume designer and wardrobe supervisor - the demands of working for realist as well as flamboyant productions - and the relationship between the studio designer and the couturier who might costume a leading actress. There is some material on the difference between Ealing and Pinewood, and Mendleson recalls many of the directors and actors who he has worked with, including Richard Attenborough, Rex Harrison, Ingrid Bergman, and Alexander Korda

The interview is a particularly successful mix of anecdotes and technical information on the work of the costume designer, containing some fascinating insights.

(Lawrence Napper, BCHRP)