It was reported over the weekend that pioneer film editor Dede Allen—the first editor, male or female, to receive a sole film credit, and whose innovative techniques with sound and pacing have now become so seamlessly integrated into American moviemaking, it’s hard to believe Allen had to introduce them—died at the age of 86. Allen was a close collaborator with A-list filmmakers like Robert Rossen, George Roy Hill, and Sidney Lumet, for whom she did Serpico, The Wiz, and Dog Day Afternoon—the latter featuring her signature use of “shock cutting” and the practice of beginning sound from the next scene while the previous scene is playing, something that’s now become standard. But Allen inarguably made her biggest mark working with Arthur Penn on Bonnie And Clyde, whose violent ambush sequence at film’s end is considered a milestone in cinema, thanks in no small part to Allen’s masterfully employed quick cuts (50 in all) broken up by slow-motion sequences. Along with her work on The Hustler—singled out by Roger Ebert for managing to capture the “trance-like rhythms” of pool—Bonnie And Clyde cemented her reputation and helped bolster the idea of film editing as its own art form. In all, Allen worked on some 20 movies in her 40-plus-year career, and received Academy Award nominations for Dog Day Afternoon, Reds, and Wonder Boys; her last credit was 2008’s Fireflies In The Garden. (The L.A. Times has a far more comprehensive obituary here.)
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