Ralph Rosenblum

Active - 1958 - 1987  |   Born - Oct 13, 1925   |   Died - Sep 6, 1995   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Comedy Drama, Crime

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Biography by Hal Erickson

A former shipping clerk and messenger, Ralph Rosenblum served with the Office of War Information during World War II. Rosenblum worked as an apprentice editor in the OWI's film department, which led to a postwar assignment as assistant editor on Robert Flaherty's The Louisiana Story (1948). He spent most of the 1950s as a TV film editor, graduating to theatrical features with 1958's Country Music Holiday. In the early 1960s, Rosenblum was one of the most trusted associates of filmmaker Sidney Lumet, editing such major Lumet productions as Long Day's Journey Into Night (1962), Fail-Safe (1964) and The Pawnbroker (1965). One of Rosenblum's favorite devices was to insert nouvelle vague-style flashbacks and flashforwards to break up otherwise static scenes, or to provide crucial plot points that the director had overlooked. He also had a fondness for using seemingly incongruous background music as comic punctuation: in both A Thousand Clowns (1965, which he also co-produced) and The Night They Raided Minsky's (1967), he pepped up slow-moving scenes with rousing renditions of "The Hallelujah Chorus." In his autobiography When the Shooting Stops...the Cutting Begins: A Film Editor's Story, Rosenblum claimed to have saved the maiden directorial efforts of Mel Brooks (The Producers) and Woody Allen (Take the Money and Run) by ruthlessly pruning miles of chaotic footage and imposing strict rules of continuity. While Brooks would later refute Rosenblum's claims, it is clear that Allen appreciated the editor's artistic "intrusions," since he employed Rosenblum as editor of his subsequent features Sleeper (1973), Love and Death (1975), Annie Hall (1977) and Interiors (1978). Annie Hall won Rosenblum the British equivalent of the Academy Award. Rosenblum turned director himself in 1980, helming several of PBS' American Playhouse projects ("The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg," "Greatest Man in the World," "Any Friend of Nicholas Nickelby is a Friend of Mine") and one theatrical feature, Stiffs (1986). Ralph Rosenblum spent his last years working out of his New York headquarters as an editorial consultant.

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