Valles: Men’s Costumes (1938-1960)

Posted by Christina Stewart April 16, 2014 0 Comment 8206 views

Fred Valles was an English designer who is mostly know for designing men’s costumes at MGM from 1938-1950, and as one of the Oscar winning designers for “Spartacus” (1960). He was credited professionally as “Valles” (pronounced Va-YEZ), and for reasons unknown, sometimes as Arlington Valles. During the 1950’s, Valles turned to television as the designer for the highly popular children’s “Captain Video” science-fiction series.

Still image from "Spartacus"

Robert Stack, Barbara Rush, Bill Thomas, and Valles at the 1961 Oscars

Hardly anything is known of Valles’ career before he came to Hollywood or even his personal life in Hollywood. His first film credit is for The Christmas Carol (1938). After this he seems to have settled into a nice niche as a designer of men’s outfits at MGM, often in collaboration with the studio’s other designers of female costumes, such as Helen Rose, Dolly Tree, Walter Plunkett or even head MGM designer Adrian. Valles was a versatile and competent designer who tackled many genres, from westerns to period dramas, and has many solo credits to his name. His impressive list of titles includes The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1939), At The Circus (1939), Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940), National Velvet (1944), The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945), The Yearling (1946), The Harvey Girls (1946), Good News (1947), Take Me Out To The Ballgame (1949), The Barkley’s of Broadway (1949), and Kim (1950).

Still image from "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"

Mickey Rooney as Huck Finn in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” 1939

Still image from "Stand Up and Fight"

Robert Taylor and Wallace Beery in “Stand Up and Fight” 1939

Still image from "At the Circus"

Chico Marx, Nat Pendleton, and Grouch Marx in “At The Circus” 1939

Still image from "Broadway Melody of 1940"

Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell in “Broadway Melody of 1940”

Still image from "Dragon Seed"

Katherine Hepburn and Turhan Bey in “Dragon Seed” 1944

Still image from "Lost In a Harem"

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in “Lost In a Harem” 1944

Still image from "National Velvet"

Mickey Rooney and Elizabeth Taylor in “National Velvet” 1944

Still image from "The Harvey Girls"

Preston Foster, Angela Lansbury, Judy Garland, and John Hodiak in “The Harvey Girls” 1946

Still image from "Good News"

Peter Lawford and the guys in “Good News” 1947

Still image from "Easter Parade"

Judy Garland and Fred Astaire in “Easter Parade” 1948

Still image from "Madame Bovary"

Louis Jourdan in “Madame Bovary” 1949

Still image from "That Forsyte Woman"

Valles was nominated for an Oscar for “That Forsyte Woman” (1949) – Janet Leigh, Robert Young, Errol Flynn, and Greer Garson

Still image from "Kim"

Errol Flynn and Dean Stockwell in “Kim” 1950

After he left MGM, Valles became the costume designers for DuMont Television Productions and worked on their largely forgotten, but wildly popular, Captain Video children’s science fiction TV series’, Captain Video and His Video Rangers (1952-1955), The Secret Files of Captain Video (1953-1954), and Captain Video and His Cartoon Rangers (1956).

Still image from "Captain Video"

“Captain Video and His Video Rangers” 1952-1955

Valles ended his career by winning the Best Costume Design – Color, along side fellow designer Bill Thomas, for the Kirk Douglas film Spartacus (1960). The duo beat out some stiff competition from Irene Sharaff for Can-Can, Irene for Midnight Lace, Edith Head for Pepe, and Marjorie Best for Sunrise at Campobello. Spartacus is full of daring, traditional, and at times subtle costumes. A perfect ending to a career that played it safe as the second fiddle.

Still image from "Spartacus"

Valles’ sketches from “Spartacus” 1960

Still image from "Spartacus"

A courtesan sketch from “Spartacus” 1960

Still image from "Spartacus"

It’s a tad soft, but it’s still a nice image of the principle cast of “Spartacus” 1960

Still image from "Spartacus"

Kirk Douglas isn’t wearing much of a costume, but it’s still effective, “Spartacus” 1960




About Christina Stewart

A film archivist by day and a film buff by night. What more needs to be said?

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