Ralph Rosenblum - Writer

Editor. Nationality: American. Born: Brooklyn, New York, 1925. Education: Attended Public School 186, Brooklyn. Family: Married; two children. Career: 1942–43—worked in garment factory; 1943–46—assistant, then assistant editor, Office of War Information, New York; after the war, worked for a year for Max Rothstein's editing service, a year with the United Nations film section, and two years as editor for Obelisk Films making religious documentaries; 1948—assistant editor to Helen Van Dongen, Louisiana Story ; 1950–51—editor of TV commercials, Tempo production company; 1951–55—TV and documentary editor, Transfilm: editor of the TV series The Search , 1953–55; 1955–61—founding director, with Gene Milford and Sidney Katz, MKR Films: TV work includes Omnibus , 1955–59, Guy Lombardo Show , two years; The Patty Duke Show , 1963–65, and The American Sportsman , 1966–67; 1969—edited first Woody Allen film, Take the Money and Run . Awards: British Academy Award for Annie Hall , 1977. Died: 4 September 1995.

Films as Editor:


Louisiana Story (Flaherty) (asst)


Coney Island (Sherry—short)


Country Music Holiday (Ganzer)


Pretty Boy Floyd (Leder); Murder, Inc. (Balaban and Rosenberg)


Mad Dog Coll (Balaban)


Jacktown (Martin); Long Day's Journey into Night (Lumet); Two Tickets to Paris (Garrison)


Gone Are the Days! (Webster)


Fail Safe (Lumet)


The Fool Killer (Gonzalez) (supervising ed); The Pawnbroker (Lumet); A Thousand Clowns (Coe)


The Group (Lumet); Terror in the City (Baron); The Love Song of Barney Kempinski (Praeger)


Bach to Bach (Leaf—short); A Great Big Thing (Till); The Producers (Brooks)


The Night They Raided Minsky's (Friedkin); Bye Bye Braverman (Lumet) (co)


Don't Drink the Water (Morris); Goodbye Columbus (Peerce); Take the Money and Run (Allen) (supervising ed); Trilogy (Perry) (co)


Something for Everyone (Prince)


Bananas (Allen); Born to Win (Passer)


Bad Company (Benton) (co)


Sleeper (Allen)


Love and Death (Allen)


Bernice Bobs Her Hair (Silver)


Remember Those Poker Playing Monkeys (Jacoby); Annie Hall (Allen)


Interiors (Allen)


Summer Solstice (+ d)


Stuck on You! (Herz)

Other Films:


Turner (d)


The President's Women (Avildsen) (consultant)


By Design (Jutra) (consultant)


Any Friend of Nicholas Nickleby Is a Friend of Mine (d); America (Harvey) (consultant)


Marvin and Tige (Weston) (consultant)


Amy and the Angel (d—for TV); Forever Lulu (Kollek) (consultant)



With Robert Karen, When the Shooting Stops . . . the Cutting Begins: A Film Editor's Story , New York, 1979.

By ROSENBLUM: articles—

American Cinematographer (Hollywood), Autumn 1972.

American Cinematographer (Hollywood), Winter 1972–73.

Millimeter (New York), March 1977.

On ROSENBLUM: articles—

Film Comment (New York), March-April 1977.

American Film (Washington, D.C.), December 1985.

Obituary in The New York Times , 8 September 1995.

Obituary in Variety (New York), 16 October 1995.

American Jewish History , December 1996.

* * *

Ralph Rosenblum did a service to editors everywhere with the 1979 publication of his memoir When the Shooting Stops . . . the Cutting Begins , a popular volume which gave the first insider's explanation of what really goes into film editing. Rosenblum traced the evolution of editing from Griffith through Eisenstein, and recounted the peculiar manipulations of material that resulted in such films as The Producers , Annie Hall, Goodbye Columbus , and The Pawnbroker . For years audiences have been blind to the intricacies of the cutting room, and critics only a little less so, giving credit to directors for a particularly brilliant piece of editing. In the book Rosenblum revealed that he had saved several films by creatively reshaping the footage, such as William Friedkin's The Night They Raided Minsky's and Woody Allen's first major film as a director, Take the Money and Run . Rosenblum's revelations helped bring credit to the film editing profession, and forced scholars to reconsider editorial contributions.

Rosenblum began his career in New York during the First World War as an apprentice in the Office of War Information, working on propaganda documentaries. His experience there led him to work with documentary editors Sidney Meyers and Helen Van Dongen, and after the war he became Van Dongen's assistant on Robert Flaherty's Louisiana Story . Rosenblum's documentary training was invaluable, teaching him how best to turn dailies into a cohesive, unified film. He had his earliest opportunities to cut on commercials and industrials. After cutting a short-lived TV series, The Search , Rosenblum and Sid Katz set up their own editorial service, and were joined by veteran editor Gene Milford, for years the chief editor at Columbia Pictures. Their company, MKR films, became quite successful cutting spots, promotionals, industrials and corporate films, TV pilots, and the acclaimed TV series Omnibus and the popular Guy Lombardo Show . It was truly a wonderful training ground, and Rosenblum was frequently called upon to transform a shapeless mass of footage into a coherent whole.

He moved into features cutting three low-budget New York gangster movies, Pretty Boy Floyd , Murder, Inc. , and Mad Dog Coll , before establishing a relationship with Sidney Lumet. Their films together— Long Day's Journey into Night , Fail Safe , The Pawnbroker , The Group —are some of the most serious American movies of the decade. Long Day's Journey and The Group were somewhat straightforward in presentation, but Fail Safe and The Pawnbroker demonstrated Rosenblum's editorial finesse. The montage ending of Fail Safe , depicting the last few moments of life on earth, and the use of concentration camp flashbacks in The Pawnbroker , brought Rosenblum his first industry recognition.

Oddly, most of Rosenblum's subsequent editing jobs have been comedies. A Thousand Clowns , directed by Fred Coe and an uncredited Herb Gardner from Gardner's play, was the first of a series of pictures which called upon Rosenblum to mold difficult material into a hit movie. Lengthy and constant re-editing were required to save A Thousand Clowns , and a similar situation prevailed with Mel Brooks's The Producers and William Friedkin's The Night They Raided Minsky's . The difficulties of working with Brooks and Friedkin are discussed in agonizing detail in Rosenblum's book; both pictures ironically stand up as superior comedies.

Working with Rosenblum's editorial collaboration, Woody Allen came into his own with such pictures as Take the Money and Run , Bananas , Sleeper , Love and Death , and Annie Hall . Rosenblum was an integral part of Allen's filmmaking process; Take the Money and Run and Annie Hall went through major restructuring in post-production. From the early slapdash style of Take the Money and Run and Bananas , through the increasing comic sophistication of Sleeper and Love and Death , to the Oscar-winning brilliance of Annie Hall , the Allen-Rosenblum association is marked by a strong sense of rhythm and tempo, with a reliance on short, concise scenes. This style of editing continued with Woody Allen's Bergman-like drama Interiors .

—John A. Gallagher

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