Peter Zinner, who edited the classic The Godfather, died November 13 from complications from Hodgkins lymphoma.
Zinner was born July 24, 1919 in Vienna, Austria. Zinner studied composition, music theory, and piano at the Theresianum and then the Reinhardt-Seminar at the University of Vienna. Being Jeiwsh, at the age of 17 his family fled Nazi Germany to the Philippines in 1938. He moved to Los Angeles in 1940, where he eked out a living as a taxi driver and later playing pianos whenever theatres showed silent movies. In 1943 he became an apprentice film editor at 20th Century Fox. He became an assistant sound effects editor at Universal in 1947. In 1949 he got a job at MGM, then the biggest studio in Hollywood. At MGM he worked in the music department, receiving no credit, on such films as Singin' in the Rain, The Band Wagon, Invitation to the Dance, and Gigi. After years of working in the movies, he received his first on screen credit as the music editor on For the First Time in 1959. He would also be music editor on such films as King Kong vs. Godzilla, They Saved Hitler's Brain, and Lord Jim. In 1962 he received his first on screen credit as an editor, on the film Wild Harvest.
Having worked as music editor on Lord Jim, Zinner found himself appointed the editor of the movie The Professionals by producer/director Richard Brooks. The movie put Zinner on the map as an editor. He would also work on Brooks' next film, In Cold Blood. Zinner would be nominated for the Oscar for Best Editing for his work alongside William Reynolds on The Godfather. He would win for his work on The Deer Hunter. Zinner was nominated for another Oscar for his editing on An Officer and a Gentleman. Zinner would go onto edit such films and TV projects as The Winds of War, Saving Grace, Citizen Cohn, and American Tragedy. His last film work was in 2006, when he co-edited the documentary Running with Arnold with his daughter, Katina Zinner.
Peter Zinner was a master editor with an exquisite sense of timing. No doubt his background in music was responsible for much of this, and Zinner edited scenes with the finnese of a master musican playing a fine instrument. A perfect example is the climax of The Godfather, in which the christening of Michael Corleone is cross cut with Don Michael Corleone murdering his enemies. His virtuosity was also on fine display in The Deer Hunter, for which he deservedly won an Academy Award. Zinner was definitely one of the most talented directors ever.