Earlier this week, I did a post about the great editor Dede Allen, and since then I’ve seen more online tributes for a behind-the-scenes film person than ever before (except, of course, for a director). It’s been great to learn so much about her accomplishments and legacy. Here’s some Some Facts About Dede that I never knew until this week:
-She was the first editor to receive a solo title card in the opening credits to a film, for Bonnie and Clyde (1967). Prior to that, editors received their credits in list of five or six or ten others, one of thse “all the little people who helped make this film” title cards, while the Directors of Photography regularly enjoyed a card just for themselves.
-According to the Motion Picture Editors Guild website, Dede was the first to obtain “points” for the film editor in profit distribution. Jesus, if that doesn’t prove how smart and valued she was, I don’t know what does.
-She pioneered the “L cut,” also known as pre-lapping, which is when the dialog of the incoming scene begins before the picture transitions into that scene. While it’s not the easiest thing to describe in prose, it’s easier to just say, “she pioneered the predominant editing for every HBO show.” True, this idea existed before she made use of it, but she was the first editor to capitalize on it and make it a part of a film’s style.
Here’s another scene she edited, from the 1977 George Roy Hill film Slap Shot. (Her credit is at the top of this post.) A harsh and hysterical story of a down-on-their-luck minor league hockey team, this is the scene where the tide turns for them. Thanks to near-homicidal style of their new players, the Hanson Brothers, they use violence to tap into the pent-up rage of their economically-frustrated fans. It’s expertly shot and directed, but I think Dede’s contribution is key. Besides the fact that she cuts immediately after a moment of violence, which tends to make the violence more painful, she also has this recurring motif:
-violent action occurs
-cut back to see the fallout of that violent action
It’s the Rhythm of Catharsis. (Also, the clip ends with one of the best sight gags of 70s cinema.)
Here’s some links to articles about Dede, including an interview with her from 2000:
Imagine That: Dede Allen, Hollywood’s Greatest Film Editor, Died Oscarless, The Big Picture by Patrick Goldstein, LA Times
The Woman Who Turned Film Violence into Poetry, by Matt Zoller Seitz, at Salon.com
The Legacy of Film Editor Dede Allen, on NPR, featuring an interview with a Craig McKay, a student of Dede’s who also co-edited Reds with her
Dede on Digital, a 2000 interview with Dede from the Motion Picture Edtiors Guild magazine, by Mia Goldman