After being trained as an architect and working as an interior designer, Mitchell Leisen began work in Hollywood as a costume designer. Leisen worked on such notable films as Cecil B. De Mille's Male and Female (1919), Ernst Lubitsch's Rosita, and the Douglas Fairbanks actioners Robin Hood (1922) and The Thief Of Bagdad (1924). As a set designer for De Mille in the late '20s and early '30s, Leisen's credits included The King of Kings (1927), Madam Satan (1930), and The Sign of the Cross (1932). Leisen began directing in the mid-'30s, scoring with the allegory Death Takes a Holiday (1934) and the bizarre mystery musical Murder at the Vanities (1934). He showed a special flair for comedy in the late '30s and early '40s, especially when his scripts were written by Preston Sturges (Easy Living , Remember the Night ) or Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder (Midnight , Arise My Love , Hold Back the Dawn ). His notable later films include Lady in the Dark (1944), To Each His Own (1946), and Golden Earrings (1947).
After his film work waned, he turned to TV directing and became the proprietor of a nightclub.