Monday, April 19, 2010

RIP Dede Allen, innovative film editor

When you watch action, comedy, romance, foreign, well, pretty much any type of film, you owe the pace of the film and the cuts from shot to shot to one woman - Dede Allen. She virtually changed the way movies are edited together, including shock cutting and overlapping audio (playing the beginning audio over the last second of the prior scene).

One of her greatest film accomplishments was Bonnie and Clyde (1967). The editing subtly contributed to the themes of the movie, infusing the film with an overtone of sexuality through it's cuts. Additionally, the final shoot-out that kills Bonnie and Clyde is fast-paced with 50 cuts in less than 60 seconds. It was the first film where an editor received solo billing in the credits.
"The skills of a great film editor are almost always invisible, and when Allen's work on Bonnie and Clyde is discussed, the focus tends to be on her split-second cross-cutting in the shoot-out that ends the movie or the breakneck robbery getaway scenes. But Allen's contribution was far more nuanced than the creation of a couple of showpiece sequences. Allen, who has called herself a 'gut editor - intellect and taste count, but I cut with my feelings' - was almost peerless in her ability to focus on 'character, character, character'...

Allen knew just how long she could hold a shot of Beatty to reveal the insecurity beneath Clyde's preening; she seemed to grasp instinctively that sudden cuts to Dunaway in motion would underscore the jagged, jumpy spirit of Bonnie Parker and that slow shots of Michael J. Pollard's C.W. Moss would mimic his two-steps-behind mental processes. And Allen cut Bonnie and Clyde with an eye and ear for the accelerating pace of the story, making the building of its panicky momentum her priority."

Mark Harris, Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood, pgs 286-287

Besides Bonnie and Clyde, Allen edited The Hustler, Reds, Dog Day Afternoon, The Breakfast Club, The Addams Family, Wonder Boys, John Q and more.

Dede Allen, groundbreaking film editor, died this weekend. Thank you for all of your work in revolutionizing film editing. Rest in peace.

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