Thursday, April 22, 2010

Birds fly, bullets rain: Deceased Artiste Dede Allen

Let me move backward chronologically through Dede Allen’s superb career as the first celebrated woman film editor. Yeah, she did a Spike Lee movie and Wonder Boys in recent years, but Ms. Allen, who died the other day at 86, also assembled that thoroughly entertaining but way too beloved hallmark of Eighties mainstream angst, The Breakfast Club. She also in 1981 co-edited Warren Beatty’s pretty damned good epic Reds, which of course would have its important concluding moment in full public view:

It was noted in her obits that not only was she the first critically lauded woman editor, but she was also “among the first” editors to share in a film’s profits (I wonder who the other first ones were). She edited two of Sidney Lumet’s absolutely perfect NYC films, Serpico and the indelible Dog Day Afternoon (1975). I link to a trailer here, with the proviso that Ms. Allen more than likely didn’t cut it, but it offers a good reminder of the film:

In 1972, she edited a film by the underrated director George Roy Hill that, although its lead is miscast, perfectly captures both the trippiness and the emotion of its sublime source material, Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut:

Of course she was best known for having worked on a string of classic films with Arthur Penn when he was on his gorgeous streak of revisionist genre films. Looming extremely large in her legend was the last scene of Bonnie and Clyde:

A more sedate scene from the latterday noir Night Moves:

And let us end where she began (almost), by noting that she edited the perfect The Hustler by Robert Rossen, and a noir that ranks up among the very best, the film that Jean-Pierre Melville was wholly obsessed with (and rightly so), the extremely haunting Odds Against Tomorrow. The whole movie can be found here, but here is the trailer:

and a representative sequence that shows off the film’s gorgeous pacing:

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