Dede Allen, 1923-2010.

Dede Allen, 1923-2010. (photo)

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Dede Allen, who died over the weekend of a stroke at the age of 86, thought of herself as a “gut editor.” In a quote from Mark Harris’s book “Pictures at a Revolution,” about the Academy Award nominees for Best Picture in 1967, Allen succinctly explained her technique. “Intellect and taste count,” she said, “but I cut with my feelings.” The movie Allen cut in 1967 (with her feelings as well as her intelligence and a great deal of innovation) was “Bonnie and Clyde,” and though her work was inexplicably unrewarded by the Academy, it was one of the primary reasons the film became an important and influential movie. The sequence where Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow meet their bloody end remains one of the most justly famous scenes in cinematic history. Some of its shock value has been lost in 40-plus years and many have imitated its techniques (particularly its blend of shots of different frame rates to elongate its eruption of violence), few have matched its power or its bloody beauty:

From the moment Clyde steps out of his car to the overhead shot of the two lifeless bodies is about one minute and three seconds. In that time, there are 60 cuts, a particularly impressive number when you consider that Allen assembled the sequence long before digital editing, piecing together actual segments of celluloid, a few frames at a time. After a long, successful career as an editor and a period as an executive for Warner Brothers, Allen learned to edit on an Avid, and used it on Curtis Hanson’s “Wonder Boys” (that time, she got an Oscar nomination). While no one would dispute computers make editing easier, Allen didn’t necessarily find them superior.

04192010_TheHustler.jpgIn a 2000 interview for Movie Picture Editors Guild Magazine, she told Mia Goldman that the classic techniques had their advantages. “The greatest disadvantage [to digital editing] I can think of is that you don’t screen your material as much as you used to.” she said. “I’d do a lot of memorizing and somehow the availability of the exact pieces that I had memorized made the process seem, ironically, more immediate.”

According to the Los Angeles Times’ obituary for Allen, she got her start in the movie business as a messenger at Columbia Pictures. Though she dreamed of being a director, she worked her way up as a cutter in the special effects department. She eventually began editing commercials then graduated to feature films as the cutter on films like Robert Wise’s “Odds Against Tomorrow” (1959) and Robert Rossen’s “The Hustler” (1961). Soon came “Bonnie and Clyde” which, according to the Times, marked the first time in history an editor received sole credit for their contribution to a film.

Her filmography also includes Sidney Lumet’s “Serpico” (1973) and “Dog Day Afternoon” (1975) and Warren Beatty’s “Reds” (1981); she received Oscar nominations for Best Editing for the last two. Though she’s now best remembered for “Bonnie and Clyde,” her most underrated work might have come in two classic, genre-defining comedies: George Roy Hill’s “Slap Shot” (1977) and John Hughes’s “The Breakfast Club” (1985). Every American teenager since then has watched the latter; most of them have studied and then imitated the famous dance sequence, brilliantly edited by Allen to Karla DeVito’s song “We Are Not Alone”:

Here’s a classic scene from “Slap Shot.” The biggest laugh in the clip isn’t the fighting, or the dialogue — it’s a single, sudden jump cut from the brawl to the aftermath (look for it at the 1:40 mark):

In the interview with Goldman, Allen was asked what advice she had for editors. She said, “I would give the same advice I gave in the old days which is learn where the scene is.” In the flash of glances between lovers in the split-second before their death, or the angry glare of a ref to a hockey goon, in dozens of movies, hundreds of scenes, thousands of cuts, Allen always found it.

[Photos: Dede Allen during the production of “Reds,” Paramount Pictures, 1981; “The Hustler,” 20th Century Fox, 1961]

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Documentary Now! Robert Evans Mansion

The Reel Deal

Everything You Need To Know About “Mr. Runner Up” Inspiration Robert Evans

Watch the two-part finale of Documentary Now! this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

In its upcoming two-part finale, Documentary Now! spoofs the crown jewel of docs: The Kid Stays In The Picture. It’s the autobiographical documentary about Robert Evans, the unlikely Hollywood mogul whose mix of self-aggrandizing bravado, classic good looks and extremely circumstantial good luck took him from being a salesman to an actor to the head of Paramount Pictures.

If you’ve never seen the film, it’s totally worth it. Rotten Tomatoes agrees, with a staggeringly-high approval rating. Watch it before, or watch it after — doesn’t matter. You’ll appreciate it whenever.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of background that will come in handy…

Robert Loves Robert

Robert Evans desk

USA Films/Everett Collection

Robert Evans is the ultimate Robert Evans fan. The movie was narrated by Robert Evans and based on his memoir of the same name. It is totally unbiased.

He’s Kind Of A Big Deal

Robert Evans, Chinatown
Paramount Pictures

Evans produced some of Hollywood’s true classics: Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, The Godfather, Love Story…the list goes on. Totally legit and amazing movies.

He’s Also Kind Of A Joke

Wag The Dog
New Line Cinema

Evans has been parodied in TV shows and movies like Entourage and Wag The Dog. He is the quintessential “producer” you already have in your head.

So Wrong He’s Right

Robert Evans Slap
20th Century Film Corp

Robert Evans is a notorious narcissist whose love of self is so blind and sincere that it’s actually adorable.

There’s Something Missing

via Giphy

Entire sections of Robert Evans’ life are left out of the documentary. Maybe it’s because of timing. Maybe it’s because real life isn’t a tidy narrative. Who knows.

He Blew It

Spider coke

Evans had a pretty spectacular fall from grace. He was convicted of cocaine trafficking in the early 80’s, and was connected to a contract killing during the production of The Cotton Club. Oops.

Losing Is For Losers

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

In the Robert Evans mythology, all tragedies are just triumphs in disguise, and every story has a happy ending…for Robert Evans.

Bill Hader Jerry Wallach

With these simple facts in hand you are now prepared to thoroughly enjoy the two-part finale of Documentary Now! starting this Wednesday at 10/9c on IFC.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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