Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Elmo Williams R.I.P.

Elmo Williams, the film editor who won the Oscar for Best Film Editing for High Noon (1952) and was nominated for the same award for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), died on November 25 2015 at the age of 102.

Elmo Williams was born on April 30 1913 in Lone Wolf, Oklahoma. While working at a drive-in restaurant in Westwood he met Merrill G. White, the film editor on such films as The Vagabond King (1930) and The Amazing Quest of Ernest Bliss (1936). He then began his career as Mr. White's protégé. He served as supervising editor on Victoria the Great (1937) and Sixty Glorious Years (1938) and then edited Nurse Edith Cavell (1939),  Irene (1940), and No, No, Nanette (1940). In the Forties he edited the films Sunny (1941), Nocturne (1946), Design for Death (1947), They Won't Believe Me (1947), Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (1947), The Miracle of the Bells (1948), Bodyguard (1948), and Follow Me Quietly (1949)

In the Fifties Elmo Williams edited the films High Noon (1952), Hellgate (1952), The Tall Texan (1953), The Cowboy (1954), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), Blonde Bait (1956), Hell Canyon Outlaws (1957), and Hell Ship Mutiny (1957). He served as editorial supervisor on The Vikings (1958). In the Fifties Mr. Williams moved into production with The Cowboy (1954). He served as an associate producer on the syndicated television series Tales of the Vikings. He became a director with The Tall Texan in 1953. In the Fifties he directed the films The Cowboy (1954), Women Without Men (1956), Blonde Bait (1956), Apache Warrior (1957), and Hell Ship Mutiny (1957). He also directed episodes of Tales of the Vikings and served as a second unit director on The Vikings.

In the Sixties Mr. Williams did uncredited editing on Cleopatra (1963). He served as a producer on The Blue Max (1966) and Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970).  In the Seventies Elmo Williams was Head of Production for 20th Century Fox from 1971 to 1977. He served as a producer on the films Sidewinder 1 (1977) and Caravans (1978). In the Eighties he produced the films Soggy Bottom, U.S.A. (1981), Man, Woman and Child (1983), and Ernest Goes to Camp (1987).

In 2006 Elmo Williams published the book Elmo Williams: A Memoir.

Elmo Williams was a gifted film editor, perhaps one of the greatest of all time. The movie High Noon simply would not have worked with out his skilled editing, which enhanced the tension in both the script and Fred Zinnemann's direction. His prowess at editing was also on display in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which arguably deserved to win the Oscar for Best Directing.  He edited films in such diverse genres as Westerns (The Tall Texan), dramas (The Miracle of the Bells), and film noir (Nocturne). Even when the films might not have been that good, Elmo Williams's direction was always excellent.

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