20th Century Fox hires DeCuir as an Art Director.
The first film to be released in widescreen using new CinemaScope anamorphic lenses, The Robe was a breakthrough for the film industry. DeCuir was one of the first to design sets in this new format which was nearly twice as wide as previous films. His work transitioning to the new layout was instrumental in future composition and set design.
Director: Walter Lang
Won Oscar: Best Music Scoring - Alfred Newman
Won Golden Globe: Best Actress - Comedy/Musical - Ethel Merman
Nominated for Oscar: Best Costume - Irene Sharaff
Summary: Boisterous, fun-loving, and popular Washington D.C. hostess Sally Adams is appointed U.S. Ambassador to the Grand Duchy of Lichtenburg, Europe’s smallest country. In Lichtenburg, the Duke and Duchess are negotiating a political marriage for their niece, Princess Maria in exchange for a substantial dowry. However, the country is desperate for funds, and turns to the inexperienced ambassador for a much needed U.S. loan. Sally refuses to talk money, that is, until she meets the ultra charming Gen. Cosmo Constantine. Meanwhile, Sally’s press attaché Kenneth Gibson falls head over heels for Princess Maria.
Director: Otto Preminger
Won 2 Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical, Most promising Newcomer - Joe Adams
Nominated for 2 Oscars: Best Actress in a Leading Role; Best Music, Scoring
Summary: At an all-black army camp, civilian parachute marker and “hot bundle” Carmen Jones is desired by many of the men. Naturally, she wants Joe, who’s engaged to sweet Cindy Lou and about to go into pilot training for the Korean War. Going after him, she succeeds only in getting him into the stockade. While she awaits his release, trouble approaches for both of them. Songs from the Bizet opera with modernized lyrics.
Director: Jean Negulesco
Nominated for 3 Oscars: Best Art Direction, Best Music - Original Song, Best Music - Scoring of a Musical Picture
Summary: On a trip to France, millionaire Jervis Pendelton sees an 18 year old girl in an orphanage. Enchanted with her, but mindful of the difference in their ages, he sponsors her to college in New England. She writes him letters, which he doesn’t read. After 3 years, he goes to visit her at a dance, not telling her that he is her benefactor. They fall in love, but the usual movie-type difficulties get in the way before they can get together at the end.
1955 - 1956
DeCuir’s colorful and breathtaking watercolors in The King and I leave the impression of unexpected romance. The movie is based on the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, and follows the story of a schoolteacher who travels to Siam to teach the young princes and princesses, and ends up finding love in their King.
While filming the ballroom scene for The King and I, director Walter Lang insisted that the cameras continue to back up in order to get more of DeCuir’s enormous set into the shot. He kept backing up until he bumped into the studio wall, but it was still not enough. Soon after, a ten foot hole was carved into the studio wall to allow for the cameras to continue to back up and capture more of the set.
Initially, Yul Brynner was opposed to wearing pink in the ballroom scene. He said that he felt too frilly and would not stand for it in the final recording. But after seeing how the set complimented his look so well at the color test, he rose for a standing ovation and praised DeCuir on his ability to make him look so manly.
Director: Jean Negulesco
Nominated for 1 Oscar - Best Music Scoring.
Summary: Phaedra is a poor sponge diver on the lovely Greek isle of Hydra. While diving, she discovers an ancient brass and gold statue of a boy riding a dolphin, which is said to have the magical power to grant wishes. Her shiftless boyfriend wants to sell it to an unscrupulous art collector, but Phaedra wants to give it to anthropologist Jim Calder, who would return it to the Greek government.
1957 - 1958
During World War II on an island in the South Pacific, love blooms between a nurse and a Frenchman both caught up in the war. Sketching with charcoal and watercolor, DeCuir uses vibrant colors to design island scenes for the movie South Pacific, based on the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.
While filming the “Bali Ha’I” sequence for South Pacific, director Josh Logan wanted colored lenses that would subtly change the look of the scene. However, the color changes in this scene are more than subtle, and they were the result of a fight. Colorist Leon supplied him with lenses that would do the job, but Logan thought that they were too subtle. After a long disagreement, Logan attempted to create the lenses himself. When Logan and the crew realized that the film was now far too colorful, they tried everything they could to fix the film strips but to no avail. It was too late.
DeCuir helps Walter Wagner pitch Cleopatra to the board at 20th Century Fox. This massive project would be a huge investment. Wagner told DeCuir, “Whenever I have to take a break, you start talking!” DeCuir wowed them with the conceptual artwork and that’s what sold the movie to 20th Century Fox.
Director: Frank Borzage
Nominated for 3 Oscars: Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color; Best Cinematography; Best Costume Design.
Summary: Exploring the life of Peter, from being a successful fisherman to becoming a follower of Jesus Christ and being dependent on Jesus Christ.
DeCuir is promoted to Production Designer at 20th Century Fox.
Cleopatra was the one of the biggest productions of the 20th century. With a final budget of $31 million, the production nearly bankrupted the studio. The custom-designed sets by DeCuir inspire awe and create an environment of grandeur for the magnificent story of Egypt’s last queen.
Director: Carol Reed
Nominated for 5 Oscars and 2 Golden Globes: Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color; Best Cinematography, Color; Best Costume Design, Color; Best Sound; Best Music, Score - Substantially Original; Best Actor - Drama; Best Screenplay
Summary: Pope Julius is eager to leave behind works by which he will be remembered. To this end he cajoles Michelangelo into painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. When not on the battlefield uniting Italy, the Pope nags Michelangelo to speed up his painful work on the frescoes.