Dream Repairman: Adventures in Film Editing
Jim Clark shares his experiences as a highly successful film editor at a time when films were a true collaboration of talented individuals.The legendary "Doctor" Clark was the man who could make sick films healthy again. The role of editor in the collective, collaborative process that is the making of any film is massively important but not one that is generally recognized outside the small pond that is the filmmaking community. In this wonderfully enjoyable memoir, this point becomes steadily obvious, but it is made with subtlety, discretion, and modesty. The book is also a history of the post-war film industry in England and America as well as an autobiography. As William Boyd wrote in his Introduction, "The trouble with writing an autobiography is that you can't really say what a great guy you are, what fun you are to work with and hang out with, what insight and instinct you have about the art form of cinema, and how much and how many film directors are indebted to you."
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Jim Clark has been making films as a picture editor since the mid '50s. His memoirs cover almost six decades of his amazingly successful and eventful career: the very beginnings as an eager junior assistant editor at the legendary Ealing Studios, his early collaborations with Stanley Donen (Charade, made in 1963, was their third and most successful collaboration), a long career in Hollywood that includes several seminal films of the '70s and '80s (Midnight Cowboy, Marathon Man, The Day of the Locust, The Mission, The Killing Fields) and a brief stint as a senior VP at Columbia Pictures (Jim's stories here are particularly revealing; a kind of 'behind-the-scenes' of 'behind-the-scenes'). But I have to give a special nod to The Innocents (1961), one of the best Henry James film adaptations and the most sophisticated 'ghost film' (or psychological horror film, if you wish) ever made. The disquiet power of the film owes a lot to Jim's impeccably timed cuts.
There have been some flops in Jim's career, but these less known films inspired perhaps the most entertaining chapters in the book.
Like any good storyteller Jim Clark knows how to capture the essence of a story and that makes his memoirs a thoroughly engaging read, page by page. His frankness and his relentless sense of wit, combined with a keen sense of perception (there is no shortage of insightful portrayals of some pretty colorful Hollywood characters) and sprinkled with just the right amount of irony, bring his stories to life. I could not recommend this book highly enough to anyone interested in film history and the inner workings of moviemaking.
(There is an excellent OFFICIAL BOOK PAGE with images and excerpts from the book.)
DAYS WITH FRANCO 253
THIS BOYS LIFE 285
AWAY FROM HOME THE EDIT
MARVINS ROOM THE JACKAL
WILLIAM BOYD JAMES BOND
AND WINSTON CHURCHILL 342