Frank P. Keller

Frank P. Keller (February 4, 1913 – December 25, 1977) was an American film and television editor with 24 feature film credits from 1958 - 1977.[1][2] He is noted for the series of films he edited with director Peter Yates, for his four nominations for the Academy Award for Best Film Editing ("Oscars"), and for the "revolutionary"[3] car chase sequence in the film Bullitt (1968) that likely won him the editing Oscar.[4]

Frank P. Keller
Frank P. Keller, Jr.

(1913-02-04)February 4, 1913
DiedDecember 25, 1977(1977-12-25) (aged 64)
OccupationFilm editor
Years active1943-1977


From 1942–1945, during the Second World War, Keller worked with editor Norval Crutcher on cataloging the film shot by combat cameramen in Europe.[5] In 1949, Keller was editor Al Clark's assistant on All the King's Men (1949).[6] From 1952-1956, Keller worked as an editor with Frank Capra on the first four films of The Bell Laboratory Science Series, sponsored by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company. Their work culminated with the 1956 televising (in color) of Our Mr. Sun, which was the first film of the series.[7] Keller later edited the seventh and eighth films in the series, Thread of Life (1960) and About Time (1962), which were produced by Owen Crump for Warner Bros..

Keller's first editing credit on a feature film was for The Bonnie Parker Story (1958), which was a film noir directed by William Witney. In 1961 Keller edited Pocketful of Miracles, which was the last film directed by Frank Capra. Keller's television work included episodes from the series The Avengers (1962) and two episodes from the first season of Star Trek (1967–69). Keller is noted for editing six of the early films directed by Peter Yates, from Bullitt (1968) through Mother, Jugs & Speed (1976).[8] His last feature film was for Rolling Thunder (directed by John Flynn-1977).


The car chase from Bullitt is likely the scene from Keller's work that is best remembered, and it has been extensively discussed over the years.[3][4][9][10][11][12][13] Leonard Maltin has called it a "now-classic car chase, one of the screen's all-time best."[12] Emanuel Levy wrote in 2003 that, "Bullitt contains one of the most exciting car chases in film history, a sequence that revolutionized Hollywood's standards. Chasing the hoodlums, McQueen drives up and down the hills of San Francisco, while an impressive hand-held camera records the perilous pursuit and traffic in thrilling minutia detail, as his sexy vehicle narrowly misses intersecting cars and trucks; other barriers during the chase are pedestrians, buildings, and so on."[3] Paul Monaco has written, "The most compelling street footage of 1968, however, appeared in an entirely contrived sequence, with nary a hint of documentary feel about it -- the car chase through the streets of San Francisco in Bullitt, created from footage shot over nearly five weeks. Billy Fraker, the cinematographer for the film, attributed the success of the chase sequence primarily to the work of the editor, Frank P. Keller. At the time, Keller was credited with cutting the piece in such a superb manner that he made the city of San Francisco a "character" in the film."[11]


In 1957, Keller won an Emmy Award (Best Editing Of A Film For Television) for Our Mr. Sun.[14] Keller was nominated for the American Cinema Editors Eddie Award for A Pocketful of Miracles (1962). He won the Academy Award for Best Film Editing and the American Cinema Editors Eddie Award for Bullitt (1968), and was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Editing. He was nominated for the Academy Award and for the ACE Eddie Award for three other films: Beach Red (directed by Cornel Wilde-1967), The Hot Rock (with Fred W. Berger; directed by Peter Yates-1972), and Jonathan Livingston Seagull (with James Galloway; directed by Hall Bartlett-1973). He was nominated for ACE Eddie Awards for Room 222 (1969 - best edited TV pilot) and for Gargoyle (1972 - best edited TV special).

In 1976, Keller was elected to the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.[15]


The director for each film is indicated in parenthesis.


  1. Birthdate confirmed at the Social Security Death Index.
  2. Filmography and awards based on Frank P. Keller on IMDb.
  3. Levy, Emanuel (2008). "Bullitt". Retrieved 2010-11-06. Bullitt contains one of the most exciting car chases in film history, a sequence that revolutionized Hollywood's standards.
  4. Hartl, John. "Top 10 car chase movies". Archived from the original on 2010-09-16. Retrieved 2010-11-07. Bullitt (1968). Philip D’Antoni, who went on to produce The French Connection, warmed up for it with this Steve McQueen crime drama, set in San Francisco, where the steep hills seem to yearn for cars to go sailing over them. The director, Peter Yates, makes the most of the locations, especially during a gravity-defying chase sequence that earned an Oscar for its editor, Frank P. Keller.
  5. LoBrutto, Vincent (1994). Sound-on-film: interviews with creators of film sound. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 53. ISBN 978-0-275-94443-8.
  6. Parrish, Robert (1977). Growing up in Hollywood. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. pp. 180–183. ISBN 978-0-15-637315-9.
  7. Capra, Frank (1997). The name above the title: an autobiography. DaCapo Press. p. 443. ISBN 978-0-306-80771-8. Those four films about science, hand woven with bits of celluloid, were sprightly patterns of poesy and fact; fresh ideas were their main charm, a rather elegant charm, we thought, much like the light-hearted but disciplined charm of a Mozart composition. The four films were Our Mr. Sun, Hemo the Magnificent (1957), The Strange Case of the Cosmic Rays (1957), and Meteora: The Unchained Goddess (1958).
  8. Wakeman, John, ed. (1988). "Peter Yates" (PDF). World Film Directors Volume II 1945-1985. H. W. Wilson. p. 1190. ISBN 978-0-8242-0757-1. The car chase impressed another racing driver, Steve McQueen, who invited Yates to Hollywood to direct his next picture, Bullitt (1968). Adapted from Robert L. Pike’s novel Mute Witness and splendidly photographed on location in San Francisco by William A. Fraker, it was the first of many Yates films edited by Frank P. Keller.
  9. Rosenblum, Ralph; Karen, Robert (1979). When the Shooting Stops ... The Cutting Begins. Viking Press. p. 3. ISBN 0-670-75991-0. And thus those who care about such things may know that during the filming of the climactic chase scene in Bullitt, an out-of-control car filled with dummies tripped a wire which prematurely sent a costly set up in flames, and that editor Frank Keller salvaged the near-catastrophe with a clever and unusual juxtaposition of images that made the explosion appear to go off on time.
  10. Schaefer, Dennis; Salvato, Larry (1986). Masters of light: conversations with contemporary cinematographers. University of California Press. p. 133. ISBN 978-0-520-05336-6.
  11. Monaco, Paul (2003). Harpole, Charles (ed.). The Sixties. History of the American Cinema. 8. University of California Press. p. 99. ISBN 0-520-23804-4.
  12. Maltin, Leonard, ed. (2004). Leonard Maltin's 2004 Movie and Video Guide. Penguin Group. p. 195. Taut action-film makes great use of San Francisco locations, especially in now-classic car chase, one of the screen's all-time best; Oscar-winning editing by Frank Keller.
  13. Dirks, Tim. "Best Film Editing Sequences of All-Time, From the Silents to the Present: Part 5". AMC Corp.
  14. "Primetime Emmy Award Database". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2012-05-01. This database lists the film as the "AT&T Science Series"; Our Mr. Sun was the first of nine programs in the series.
  15. "Academy Elects 12 Members to the Board of Governors". The Los Angeles Times. May 29, 1976. p. B8. Paid access.
  16. Monush, Barry, ed. (2003). Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors: From the silent era to 1965, Volume 1. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 664. ISBN 9781557835512. In 1977, he directed, wrote, produced, and starred in Beyond Reason, playing a psychiatrist having an affair with a patient, but after sitting on the shelf for years, it ended up going directly to cable outlets and video shelves.
  17. "New Releases - Albums". Billboard. June 8, 1985.
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