Sally Menke was, amongst other things, Quentin Tarantino’s editor and she died Monday while out hiking in the West Coast heatwave.
I’d spent the day talking about editing in damp London but remember first watching Reservoir Dogs in The Dukes in Lancaster and being just blown away.
And after watching Pulp Fiction I wasn’t sure it was even worth trying to make a better film.
I was 18 and I walked out of the multiplex into the Preston air, Martin and I reeling from the hipness, the language, the narrative structure, the soundtrack. It’s all a bit of a cliche now but it was just amazing to see that invention reaching the mainstream screen.
Tarantino has said that his final scripts are only really first drafts of the film, the final cut not achievable without her. And over the years there’s a heck of a lot of films, often directed by male auteurs that have been edited by women:
Thelma Schoonmaker has edited every Scorsese film since Raging Bull.
Dede Allen edited of The Hustler, Bonnie & Clyde, Alice’s Restaurant, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, The Missouri Breaks, The Breakfast Club and Wonder Boys.
Anne V. Coates cut Lawrence Of Arabia, Becket, The Elephant Man, Chaplin, In The Line Of Fire, Striptease, Out Of Sight and Erin Brockovich.
Margaret Fields was the editor of Mutiny On The Bounty (1935), The Way We Were and The Goodbye Girl.
Dorothy Spencer cut Cleopatra, Von Ryans Express and Valley Of The Dolls.
And Verna Fields edited Jaws and American Graffiti.
A pretty serious list.
Enough to make you think a little harder the next time you see ‘A Film By’ credit too.