5 Iconic Clips From the Late, Legendary Film Editor Dede Allen


When Dede Allen passed away Saturday at age 86 following complications from a stroke, Hollywood lost one of its most influential craftspeople of the last 50 years. While cutting films for Sidney Lumet, Arthur Penn, Paul Newman and an eclectic handful of others from John Hughes to Nick Cassavetes, Allen brought an uncanny knack for perspective and time to her work; she could make an otherwise unremarkable close-up seem positively spring-loaded based on its proximity to the shots around it and the measured use of silence. Many of her most extraordinary efforts aren't available online (e.g. the psychotic church revival in Rachel, Rachel, the foot chase in Serpico), but a few quick clips -- some better known than others -- demonstrate the talent we lost.

· Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

Allen had cut Robert Rossen's The Hustler in 1961, for which she earned her first of three American Cinema Editors "Eddie" Award nominations. She'd earn her second -- and make arguably her most indelible mark on cinema -- with Arthur Penn's Depression-era bank-robber romance. The climactic, slow-motion ambush that leaves the title characters dead is a masterwork of tension, sound and action that tells a dozen stories in one wordless, minute-long sequence.

· Little Big Man (1970)

There's a better, extended (and yet unembeddable) version of this clip on YouTube, but this will do the trick. Dustin Hoffman stars as Jack Crabb, who spends the film recounting his life on the frontier of the American West. Crabb's Native American alliances result in some fairly annoying "Hollywood Injun" B.S., but in sequences like this -- in which Crabb puts his sister's gunslinging counsel to use as the Soda-Pop Kid -- you can kind of see Allen achieve the editorial equivalent of Caroline Crabb's advice to shoot the gun before you touch it. Her work was instinctive, and she made it look infinitely easier than it was.

· Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

The famous "Attica!" scene in Dog Day Afternoon should be better known for its little-discussed jewel of a cutaway. It arrives at the 1:05 mark in this video, and evinces Allen's recognition that a story is always happening in more than just one place at a time.

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  • SunnydaZe says:

    God bless the female editor! It is amazing there are many in an industry which has mainly been controlled by men.
    Ms. Allen also edited "The Breakfast Club" and "Let it Ride" (a personal favorite). The former managed to make five characters in a single environment the ironic film of its generation and the latter has multiple characters with multiple story-lines all happening at once practically in real time.
    Amazing lady.

  • John M says:

    With all due respect, Stu, that edit in SLAPSHOT isn't a jump cut. Not in the pure sense. It is funny, though.
    Also awesome? NIGHT MOVES. Very worth renting.

  • Jason Wells says:

    Beautiful. Just beautiful. Thank you.

  • Eyjafjallajökull says:

    Should've posted a clip from Slaughterhouse-Five. That's a real editing showcase.