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Thread: Legendary movie editor Dede Allen dead at 86

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    Default Legendary movie editor Dede Allen dead at 86

    Source: LA Times

    Dede Allen dies at 86; editor revolutionized imagery, sound and pace in U.S. films

    Her work on 1967's 'Bonnie and Clyde' ushered in a new aesthetic that's now
    the standard in American film. She earned Oscar nominations for 'Dog Day
    Afternoon,' 'Reds' and 'Wonder Boys.'


    By Claudia Luther

    April 18, 2010


    Dede Allen, the film editor whose seminal work on Robert Rossen's "The
    Hustler" in 1961 and especially on Arthur Penn's "Bonnie and Clyde" in
    1967 brought a startling new approach to imagery, sound and pace in
    American movies, died Saturday. She was 86.

    Allen, who was nominated for Academy Awards for "Dog Day Afternoon"
    (1975), "Reds" (1981) and "Wonder Boys" (2000), died at her Los Angeles
    home days after having a stroke, said her son, Tom Fleischman.

    Allen was the first film editor -- male or female -- to receive sole credit on
    a movie for her work. The honor came with "Bonnie and Clyde," a film in
    which Allen raised the level of her craft to an art form that was as
    seriously discussed as cinematography or even directing.

    "She was just an extraordinary collaborator, and in the course of editing
    that film, I came to develop confidence in Dede," Penn told The Times on
    Saturday. "Indeed, she wasn't an editor, she was a constructionist."

    The two were "not just collaborators," Penn said, "but deep family friends.
    We made six films together."

    Greg S. Faller, professor of film studies at Towson University in Maryland,
    said "The Hustler" and "Bonnie and Clyde" "must be considered benchmark
    films in the history of editing."

    "It's hard to see the changes she made because most of what she did has
    been so fully embraced by the industry," Faller said.

    Allen departed from the standard Hollywood way of cutting -- making
    smooth transitions starting with wide shots establishing place and
    characters and going on to medium shots and finally close-ups -- by
    beginning with close-ups or jump cuts. Although these editing methods
    had been pioneered by the French new wave and some British directors,
    Allen is generally credited with being the first to use and shape them in
    American film.

    In Sidney Lumet's "Dog Day Afternoon," she employed a staccato tempo,
    sometimes called shock cutting.

    "She creates this menacing quality by not cutting where you'd expect it
    -- she typically would cut sooner than you might expect," Faller said.
    "You weren't ready for it."

    She would also begin the sound from the next scene while the previous
    scene was still playing, a technique now standard in film editing.

    In all, Allen edited or co-edited 20 major motion pictures over 40 years,
    but she was most closely identified with Penn and a handful of A-list
    directors such as Rossen, Lumet and George Roy Hill and actor-directors
    Paul Newman, Warren Beatty and Robert Redford.

    Besides "Bonnie and Clyde," which was produced by Beatty and starred
    Beatty and Faye Dunaway, Allen's films for Penn included "Alice's
    Restaurant," "Little Big Man," "Night Moves" and "The Missouri Breaks."

    She edited Lumet's "Serpico," "Dog Day Afternoon" and "The Wiz"; Hill's
    "Slaughterhouse-Five" and "Slap Shot"; Newman's "Rachel, Rachel" and
    "Harry & Son"; Beatty's "Reds" (with Craig McKay, who shared the Oscar
    nomination) and Redford's "The Milagro Beanfield War."

    But it was the violent tale based on the true story of Bonnie Parker and
    Clyde Barrow -- lovers and robbers on the run during the Great Depression
    -- that secured her place as a pioneer in film.

    Hardly a chase scene or violent sequence filmed since "Bonnie and Clyde"
    has not been a reference to Allen's distinct style, which she developed
    under Penn's direction.

    "What we essentially were doing," Penn said Saturday, "was developing a
    rhythm for the film so that it has the complexity of music."

    The famed final ambush scene in which Bonnie and Clyde are gunned down
    on a gravel road in rural Louisiana contains more than 50 cuts, though it
    lasts less than a minute. At Penn's urging, Allen and her assistant, Jerry
    Greenberg, employed slow motion at some points and faster speed at
    others, creating a tense, violent and balletic conclusion.

    Although the film initially left some movie critics in near-apoplectic
    disapproval of its mix of comedy and graphic violence, Pauline Kael,
    writing in the New Yorker magazine, called it "excitingly American."

    Kael had special praise for the movie's editing, especially the "rag-doll
    dance of death" at the end of the picture, which she called "brilliant."

    "It is a horror that seems to go on for eternity, and yet it doesn't last
    a second beyond what it should," Kael wrote.

    In his review in 1967, Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert called it
    "a milestone in the history of American movies, a work of truth and
    brilliance."

    Kael's review and other critical praise prompted many to reevaluate the
    film, which in 1998 was listed at No. 27 on the American Film Institute's
    ist of the "100 Greatest American Movies of All Time."

    Dorothea Corothers Allen was born in Cincinnati on Dec. 3, 1923. She
    attended Scripps College in Claremont but left to take a job as a
    messenger at Columbia Pictures, hoping she could someday fulfill her
    dream of being a director.

    Within a year, she was an assistant in sound effects, working on three-
    reelers. After long hours at her job, she would sit beside Carl Lerner,
    then an editor in television who later edited "Klute" and other films. With
    Lerner's guidance, she learned the craft of editing: the assemblage of
    various scenes to create a coherent film.

    In the early days of Hollywood, the cutters, as they were called, were
    often women, perhaps because, as Allen once commented to author Ally
    Acker, "women have always been good at little details, like sewing."

    But later those jobs mostly went to men, especially after World War II
    when military veterans returned to the film industry.

    Unable to get a stronger foothold in the movies, Allen went with her
    husband to Europe and then New York City, where she took various
    jobs, including editing commercials, while raising her two children.

    Working on commercials helped shape her style of editing, she often said.

    In the late 1950s, Lerner recommended her for her first major editing task
    -- for director Robert Wise's "Odds Against Tomorrow," the taut film noir
    starring Harry Belafonte.

    Allen credited Wise, who had been a film editor ("Citizen Kane"), for giving
    her the confidence to find her footing in the profession. She began
    experimenting with using sound to move the action forward, the precursor
    to her method of initiating sound from the next scene while the previous
    scene was still running.

    "The overall effect increased the pace of the film -- something always
    happened, visually or aurally, in a staccato-like tempo," Faller wrote in
    "Women Filmmakers and Their Films."

    "Odds" led to Rossen's "The Hustler," which gave Allen her first real
    opportunity to demonstrate what she had learned, including the use of
    cuts instead of dissolves between scenes.

    "I think it surprised Rossen, but he left it," she told the Film Quarterly in
    1992 of her way of editing. "He used to say, 'It works. It plays. Leave it.
    Don't improve it into a disaster.' "

    Ebert wrote of Allen's work on "The Hustler" that she found the rhythm in
    the pool games -- "the players circling, the cue sticks, the balls, the
    watching faces -- that implies the trance-like rhythm of the players. Her
    editing 'tells' the games so completely that if we don't understand pool,
    we forget that we don't."

    When "Bonnie and Clyde" came along several years later, Allen employed
    her well-honed techniques and instincts about performance and story to
    help Penn deliver a film unlike any made in America before.

    In 1994, Allen received the highest honor from her peers, a career
    achievement award given by American Cinema Editors. In November 2007
    she received the Motion Picture Editors Guild's Fellowship and Service Award.

    For seven years during the 1990s, Allen was an executive at Warner Bros.,
    overseeing pre- and post-production on many films. She returned to editing
    with "Wonder Boys" and was co-editor of Omar Naim's "The Final Cut" (2004)
    and editor of "Fireflies in the Garden" (2008).

    In addition to her son, Tom, a sound recording mixer, she is survived by her
    husband of 63 years, Stephen E. Fleischman, a retired TV news executive,
    documentary producer and writer; daughter Ramey Ward; five grandchildren;
    and two great-grandchildren.



    Claudia Luther is a former Times staff writer
    In 2006 at the DVD release of Reds, Beatty and Allen were reunited again:
    Source: DGA.ORG
    An Under The Influence Screening:
    Reds with director Warren Beatty


    “The movie does have a stronger contemporary relevance now than it
    did then,” director Warren Beatty said of his epic film Reds. To a rapt
    audience of more than 500, Beatty discussed the making of the seminal
    film during an “Under The Influence” screening in DGA Theater on
    September 30, 2006. Sponsored by DGA’s Independent Directors
    Committee, the “Under The Influence” screening series features
    post-screening dialogues with the film’s director and a filmmaker who
    was influenced by his work, in this case, 2005 DGA Award nominee
    Bennett Miller (Capote).

    Beatty produced, directed, co-wrote and starred in the 1981 film,
    which garnered 12 Academy Award nominations and both an Oscar
    and DGA Award for Beatty as Best Director. The film, which gets its
    long-awaited DVD release on Oct. 17, is a romantic political drama set
    in the midst of the Russian Revolution and stars Warren Beatty, Diane
    Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Maureen Stapleton, Paul Sorvino, Jerzy Kosinski,
    and Gene Hackman.

    One of IDC’s founding members, director Penelope Spheeris, welcomed
    the audience and expressed her admiration for Reds. Miller said he was
    likewise influenced by the film and counts it among his favorites: “To me,
    as much as anything else, it’s a marvel that it does exist. I wonder and
    doubt that there will ever be a film like this of this scope that is so perfect
    in every way.” Beatty received a standing ovation as he took the stage
    after the screening. Early on, he singled out the outstanding contributions
    of film editor Dede Allen, who was in the audience and also received a
    standing ovation.


    Beatty said it was not an easy film to get financed and thanked his
    backers at Paramount Pictures, including then-president Michael Eisner,
    who was attending the Reds screening. “The wonder is that that subject
    got financed – and it would be questionable whether that subject would
    be financed today,” Beatty said. He spoke about his decision not to do
    publicity for the film at the time, saying that he remains wary of massive
    publicity campaigns for films, since they often “cloud” the way people view
    a movie. Beatty said he was encouraged to tell the real-life story of radical
    American journalist John Reed by members of the Russian film community.
    That set into motion a long period of writing treatments and shooting
    historical interviews, some of which were used in the film. As to the
    central characters, including Reed (Beatty) and Louise Bryant (Diane
    Keaton), “people didn’t realize at that stage of their lives that [the
    revolution] was very much more complicated than they wanted it to be,”
    Beatty said.

    Beatty also discussed his approach to filmmaking: “When I make a movie
    I feel, why make another one? And then when I get sufficiently disgusted
    with myself, which takes longer and longer, I then can work up the
    enthusiasm to go through the torture of making a movie.” With the
    audience hanging on every word, and eager to stay well past midnight,
    Beatty’s wife, Annette Bening, joked from the audience that she was taking
    the kids and going home. Beatty’s son Benjamin got in the last question:
    “How long was the first rough cut?” “About 4 hours, 15 minutes,” Beatty said.

    The story has a stronger contemporary relevance than it did during the early
    days of the Reagan Administration, Beatty concluded. “The relevance of
    what people will turn to when they have nothing else to turn to is more
    apparent now than it was, at least to Americans, in 1980 or 1981,” he said.

    Warren Beatty: actor, director, writer, producer.

    ***** celeb

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    *tips his hat at a stylistic pioneer*
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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