I think the parallels between Sam and Dede Allen (who died on April 18th) speak a great deal about their remarkable talent. They were born the same year. Dede started out as a messenger at Columbia, not getting her break until she was 34 (“Odds Against Tomorrow.”) Sam worked in the print shop at Warners and didn’t get to be an editor until he was 38 (“Youngblood Hawke”).
The movies where they each made their biggest mark were released the same year – 1967 – Dede’s “Bonnie And Clyde” and Sam’s “The Graduate”. And neither one was nominated for an Oscar, which The L.A. Times called “a spleen busting travesty.”
Although they were both thought of as trail blazers and helped elevate the film editor to an artist’s stature, they had this to say about their work:
Dede: “A good cut is when you do not see it unless you want to…Some people cannot judge editing unless it is flashy and flashy editing is the easiest thing to do.”
Sam: “When people notice editing, it’s probably bad. You’re trying to tell a story. It’s not about somebody showing off… I prefer not to be seen in my films”
They made their mark because had the guts to trust their instincts and take chances, but most of all they knew how to work their invisible art – and tell a story so very well.