I had been interested in art director Anton Grot’s work for a while. He worked on many films with Curtiz, and is credited on numerous other Warner features in the thirties and forties. It’s been really hard to find information on Grot, but I did come across a blog which features several of his drawings. As far as I can tell, most of them were done for Captain Blood, but it looks like at least one was for Mildred Pierce, and the last one is probably for Elizabeth and Essex or The Sea Hawk (the two films share a number of sets). One of my first job’s was with Anton Grot’s it was on the film set of Mildred Pierce, as a set stills photographer,
He was the only Warner’s Art Director repeatedly nominated for Academy Awards, for Svengali (1931), Anthony Adverse (1936), The Life of Emile Zola (1937), The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), and The Sea Hawk (1940), but he won only once, an honorary award for inventing a ripple machine used in The Sea Hawk. Through the forties, Grot worked less often, but no less brilliantly, on films such as Mildred Pierce (1945) and Possessed (1947).
I would take still shots of the film set construction as it went up, built on the film set at the old Warner Bros. Studio backlot on Sunset Boulevard. I still had a job working as a darkroom accent on Sunset Boulevard for, Consolidated Film Industries, where I worked for the next four years. After the four years working for Consolidated Film Industries, I was hired by Byron Haskin, ASC, and head of the Warner Bros. Special Effects Department on Stage 5 in Burbank. Since this was the largest such department in the movie business, I was able to work with some of the top cinematographers in the effects field, such as ASC fellows Edwin DuPar, Hans Koenekamp and Warren Lynch.
I first made the acquaintance of Ann Blyth on the film set of Mildred Pierce, (1945). Warner Bros had borrowed Ann for this film. It was Anton Grot’s that called Ann over and introduces me to her. What was so special about Ann? Well, she was just a nice person who always had a warm smile and a pleasant word for she exuded maternal compassion and was ever willing to listen to anyone’s tales of woe (including mine). Also you must remember as members of the film crew, you do not fratnise with the acting fraternity that was the golden rule for the film crew.
- Mildred Pierce: James M. Cain (avidmysteryreader.com)