Dede Allen

Dorothea Carothers "Dede" Allen[1] (December 3, 1923 – April 17, 2010)[2][3] was an American film editor, well-known "film editing doctor" to the major American movie studios, and one of cinema's all-time celebrated 'auteur' film editors.

Dede Allen
Dorothea Carothers Allen

(1923-12-03)December 3, 1923
DiedApril 17, 2010(2010-04-17) (aged 86)
OccupationFilm editor
Years active1948–2008
Spouse(s)Stephen Fleischman (1945 – April 17, 2010) (her death)
ChildrenTom Fleischman (son)
Ramey Ward (daughter)

Allen is known for having edited classic films such as The Hustler (1961), Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), and Reds (1981). She had an extended collaboration (1967–1976) with director Arthur Penn, and over the years had worked with other distinguished directors including Sidney Lumet, Robert Wise, Elia Kazan, and George Roy Hill. She was a member of the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Early life

Allen was born in Cleveland, Ohio;[2][3] her mother was an actress and her father worked for Union Carbide.[1] She enrolled at Scripps College in Claremont, California.


Allen worked her way up as a production runner, as a sound librarian and then as an assistant film editor at Columbia Pictures. She edited commercial and industrial films before becoming a full-fledged feature film editor. It took sixteen years working in the American film industry before Dede Allen edited her first important feature film, Odds Against Tomorrow (1959).[4] She worked closely with and was mentored by film director Robert Wise, who had also been a film editor himself (most notably having cut Orson Welles' Citizen Kane). Wise encouraged Dede Allen to be brave and experiment with her editing -- "he was the first person who said, 'No matter how many directions I give you, if it doesn't play, don't show it to me.' He was excited as hell if I came up with something. He had a great influence on me because he was a tremendous editor in his own time so he knew."[5]

Much like the raw editing of dadaist filmmaking (an approach followed by René Clair early in his career) or perhaps akin to that of the French New Wave, Allen pioneered the use of audio overlaps and utilized emotional jump cuts, stylistic flourishes that brought energy and realism to characters that until that point had not been a part of classic Hollywood film editing technique. Continuity editing and screen direction (being tied to the constraints of place and time) became the low priority, while using cutting to express the micro-cultural body language of the characters and moving the plot along in an artistic, almost three-dimensional manner became her modus operandi.

In 1992, Allen accepted the position of Vice-President in Charge of Creative Development at the Warner Bros. Studio. In 2000 she returned to editing with the film Wonder Boys, for which she was nominated for her third Academy Award.[6]

On a 2012 listing of the 75 best edited films of all time, compiled by the Motion Picture Editors Guild based on a survey of its members, three films edited by Allen appear: Bonnie and Clyde, Dog Day Afternoon, and Reds. Only George Tomasini had more films on this listing.[7]

Variety's Eileen Kowalski notes that, "Indeed, many of the editorial greats have been women: Dede Allen, Verna Fields, Thelma Schoonmaker, Anne V. Coates and Dorothy Spencer."[8]

Personal life

Allen was married to film director Stephen Fleischman.[3] Her son is renowned sound re-recording mixer Tom Fleischman and her daughter is Ramey Ward.

Allen died on April 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California from a stroke.[2]

Selected filmography

Year Title Director Co-editors
1959Odds Against TomorrowRobert Wise
1961The HustlerRobert Rossen
1963America, AmericaElia Kazan
1967Bonnie & ClydeArthur Penn
1968Rachel, RachelPaul Newman
1969Alice's RestaurantArthur Penn
1970Little Big ManArthur Penn
1972Slaughterhouse-FiveGeorge Roy Hill
1973SerpicoSidney LumetRichard Marks, Ronald Roose, and Angelo Corrao
1975Dog Day AfternoonSidney Lumet
Night MovesArthur PennSteven A. Rotter
1976The Missouri BreaksArthur PennGerald B. Greenberg and Steven Rotter
1977Slap ShotGeorge Roy Hill
1978 The WizSidney Lumet
1981RedsWarren BeattyCraig McKay
1984Harry & SonPaul Newman
Mike's MurderJames Bridges
1985The Breakfast ClubJohn Hughes
1986Off BeatMichael DinnerAngelo Corrao
1988The Milagro Beanfield WarRobert RedfordJim Miller
1989Let It RideJoe PytkaJim Miller
1990Henry & JunePhilip KaufmanVivien Hillgrove Gilliam and William S. Scharf

(Interview in two parts),

1991The Addams FamilyBarry Sonnenfeld
2000Wonder BoysCurtis Hanson
2002John Q.Nick Cassavetes
2004The Final CutOmar NaimRobert Brakey
2007Have Dreams, Will TravelBrad IsaacsRobert Brakey
2008Fireflies in the GardenDennis LeeRobert Brakey

Academy Awards and nominations

  • 1976 Dog Day Afternoon, nominated for Academy Award, Best Editing
  • 1982 Reds, nominated for Academy Award, Best Editing (w/ co-editor Craig McKay)
  • 2001 Wonder Boys, nominated for Academy Award, Best Editing

Other awards and nominations

  • 1962 The Hustler, nominated for American Cinema Editors (ACE) Eddie, Best Edited Feature Film
  • 1968 Bonnie and Clyde, nominated for American Cinema Editors (ACE) Eddie, Best Edited Feature Film
  • 1975 Dog Day Afternoon won BAFTA Film Award, Best Editing
  • 1982 Reds, nominated for American Cinema Editors (ACE) Eddie, Best Edited Feature Film (w/ co-editor Craig McKay)
  • 1982 recipient, Women in Film Crystal Award for outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry[9]
  • 1994 honored with American Cinema Editors (ACE), Career Achievement Award
  • 1999 honored at Hollywood Film Festival, Outstanding Achievement in Music Editing
  • 2000 honored by Las Vegas Film Critics Association, Career Achievement Award

See also


  2. Luther, Claudia (April 18, 2010). "Dede Allen dies at 86; editor revolutionized imagery, sound and pace in U.S. films". Los Angeles Times. p. AA39. This obituary incorrectly states that she was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, which was subsequently acknowledged in an online correction.
  3. Lee, Felicia R. (April 19, 2010). "Dede Allen, Pioneering Film Editor, Dies at 86". The New York Times. p. A24.
  4. Faller, Greg S. (2000). "Dede Allen". In Pendergast, Tom; Pendergast, Sara (eds.). International Dictionary of Film and Filmmakers, Edition 4. St. James Press. ISBN 978-1-55862-449-8. Retrieved 2008-01-05.
  5. Women and the cinema : a critical anthology. Kay, Karyn., Peary, Gerald. (1st ed.). New York: Dutton. 1977. ISBN 0525474595. OCLC 3315936.CS1 maint: others (link)
  6. DiMare, Philip C., ed. (2011). "Dede Allen". Movies in American History: An Encyclopedia, Volume 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 550. ISBN 9781598842968.
  7. "The 75 Best Edited Films". Editors Guild Magazine. 1 (3). May 2012.
  8. Kowalski, Eileen (November 14, 2001). "Tina Hirsch". Variety.
  9. "Past Recipients". Women in Film. Archived from the original on 2011-08-20. Retrieved 2013-07-18.

Further reading

  • Carlson, Michael (June 3, 2010). "Dede Allen: Pioneering film editor who worked with Sidney Lumet and Arthur Penn". The Independent. Dede Allen, who has died aged 86, was the most important film editor in the most explosive era of American film. Between Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and 1978's The Wiz, Allen edited or co-edited 11 films, all but one for Arthur Penn, George Roy Hill or Sidney Lumet, that helped redefine the way that Hollywood cut – using jump cuts, overlapping sound, and abrupt changes of pace to capture the inner qualities of characters and highlight narrative tension.
  • Chang, Justin (2012). FilmCraft: Editing. Octopus Books. ISBN 9781908150684. Dede Allen was the first editor, male or female, to receive a solo title card on a film—a fitting distinction for someone who made a persuasive case for film editing not merely as a technical discipline, but an art worth considering in its own right. A solo title card means that her name appears alone on the screen while the credits are shown; the film in question was Bonnie and Clyde (1967).
  • Kunkes, Michael (2008). "Fellowship and Service Award -- 2008 Recipient". Motion Picture Editors Guild. Biography of Allen and remarks about her by many of her editing colleagues. These were compiled on the occasion of her receipt of the Motion Picture Editors' Guild "Fellowship and Service Award" in 2008.
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