Donn Cambern

Donn Cambern (born October 9, 1929) is an American film editor. Cambern was born in Los Angeles, California, and obtained a B.A. in music from UCLA. In 2007, Cambern was senior filmmaker-in-residence at the American Film Institute Conservatory.[1]

Cambern began his career as a Music Editor for The Andy Griffith Show, before moving into the field of film editing.

Cambern has edited such films as Easy Rider (1969) and Romancing the Stone (1984), for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Film Editing along with fellow editor Frank Morriss. Cambern was awarded the American Cinema Editors Career Achievement Award in 2004.

Officially credited with editing The Last Picture Show (1971), Cambern's involvement was called into question in the 1999 documentary, The Last Picture Show: A Look Back. In the documentary, Peter Bogdanovich said that after shooting the film, he went back to Los Angeles to edit it on a Moviola. When finished editing the entire picture, he refused to credit himself as editor, reasoning that credits beyond that of director and co-writer would look 'ridiculous'. After being informed that the Motion Picture Editors Guild required crediting an editor, he suggested Donn Cambern who had been editing another film in the next office over and had helped Bogdanovich with some purchasing paperwork.[2] In the documentary, Cybill Shepherd said that when she went to stay with Bogdanovich during that time, it was disappointing because he was too busy editing the film.[3]

Cambern disputes this, stating that Bogdanovich did do an edit of the film, which he screened for a selection of guests, including Jack Nicholson, Bob Rafelson and himself. The consensus was the film was going to be great, but needed further editing to achieve its full potential. Bogdanovich invited Cambern to edit the film further and Cambern made significant contributions to the film's final form.

One of Cambern's favorite stories and something for which he is often remembered is the editing of the final sequence of the Robert Wise film The Hindenburg, in which Cambern manages to keep the Hindenburg blowing up for almost 10 minutes when the actual event lasted little more than 37 seconds.[4]

Cambern has been elected as a member of the American Cinema Editors.[5] Cambern has served twice (1990–94, 1997–99) as Vice-President of the Board of Governors for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. From 1991-2002, he was President of the Motion Picture Editors Guild. [1][6]

Cambern was the inaugural recipient of the Guild's Fellowship and Service Award in 2007.[7]

Selected filmography

(director of each film indicated in parenthesis)


  1. "Faculty Listing," American Film Institute webpage retrieved Dec. 20, 2007.
  2. Turner Classic Movies. Notes for The Last Picture Show (1971)
  3. Peter Bogdanovich, Cybill Shepherd (1999). The Last Picture Show: A Look Back (DVD).
  4. Phillips, Mark (1998). "Robert Wise And Donn Cambern Ignite 'Fireside Chat'" Archived 2008-03-16 at the Wayback Machine, Motion Picture Editor's Guild Newsletter, Vol. 19, No. 3, May/June 1998.
  5. "American Cinema Editors > Members", webpage archived by WebCite from this original URL on 2008-03-04.
  6. "Guild Election Results 2002". Editors' Guild Magazine. Archived from the original on 2011-05-21. Retrieved December 27, 2008.
  7. "News: Cambern Feted Fellowship, Service by Guild". Editors' Guild Magazine. Archived from the original on 2009-01-07. Retrieved December 27, 2008.

Donn Cambern on IMDb

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