The Flannery O'Connor Library

St. Pius X Catholic High School

A long time ago in a cutting room far, far away

778.593 HIR

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A long time ago in a cutting room far, far away : my fifty years editing Hollywood hits; Star Wars, Carrie, Ferris Bueller's day off, Mission: impossible, and more

Hirsch, Paul, 1945-, author.

Chicago, Illinois : Chicago Review Press Incorporated, [2020]

xxii, 362 p : ill.

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A Long Time Ago in a Cutting Room Far, Far Away provides a behind-the-scenes look at some of the most influential films of the last fifty years as seen through the eyes of Paul Hirsch, the Oscar-winning film editor who worked on such classics as George Lucas's Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back , Brian De Palma's Carrie and Mission: Impossible , Herbert Ross's Footloose and Steel Magnolias , John Hughes's Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Planes, Trains & Automobiles , Joel Schumacher's Falling Down , and Taylor Hackford's Ray .

Hirsch breaks down his career movie by movie, offering a riveting look at the decisions that went into creating some of cinema's most iconic scenes. He also provides behind-the-scenes insight into casting, directing, and scoring and intimate portraits of directors, producers, composers, and stars. Part film school primer, part paean to legendary filmmakers and professionals, this funny and insightful book will entertain and inform aficionados and casual moviegoers alike.

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Editorial Reviews

Review by Publishers Weekly.
Reading like the script of a fast-paced movie, veteran Hollywood film editor Hirsch's memoir overflows with fascinating insights and anecdotes. He starts by describing, in loving detail, the nuts and bolts of his craft, from sifting through daily footage for the perfect shot, to creating appropriate tone and pace, to finding an actor's best takes. Then Hirsch delves into a treasure trove of stories, starting with Carrie, on which his loyalty to director Brian De Palma, and to De Palma's audacious use of split-screens, caused the studio to briefly fire him--only for the completed film to prove "my first hit." Hirsch goes on to describe making a last-minute but pivotal change to the original Star Wars--Darth Vader's survival at the end--at George Lucas's behest, drawing on a personal tragedy while editing Steel Magnolias' key funeral scene, and how a comment by Tom Cruise--the star remarked that "we still had all the entrances and exits" in a rough cut of Mission: Impossible--has influenced Hirsch's approach. Devoted cinephiles and casual movie fans will thoroughly enjoy Hirsch's passionate and thoughtful career chronicle. (Nov.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Review by Library Journal.
Hirsch (b. 1945) has edited more than 40 Hollywood films in 50 years and received numerous film-editing accolades, including an Academy Award for Star Wars. He has worked with many well-known directors, such as George Lucas, John Hughes, and Brian De Palma, for whom he edited 11 movies, as well as highly respected composers and technical experts. Here, Hirsch describes his path to film editing, the ebbs and flows of his career, his philosophy and technical approaches to editing, and his behind-the-scenes experiences on movie sets and in screening and editing rooms. Hirsch is a gracious writer, thanking the people who gave him opportunities and treating fairly even those with whom he didn't always get along. What little spleen Hirsch vents in this memoir is reserved for horror movies, especially those that are monster-driven. VERDICT Readers will learn a lot about the role of a film editor and will feel compelled to rewatch the many hit movies Hirsch edited. Highly recommended for fans of these films and those interested in filmmaking.--Monica Howell, Northwestern Health Sciences Univ. Lib., Bloomington, MN

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Booklist.
As editing is the only aspect of filmmaking without roots in an earlier art form, writes longtime Hollywood editor Hirsch, he finds it easier to describe it in relation to other arts. Being able to add or remove pieces like in clay sculpture, build a balanced and beautiful structure as in architecture, or rearrange elements to create new meaning like in writing gives film editors immense, if often unheralded, power over a movie's success. After a winding introduction that (ironically) could have been edited down, Hirsch dishes about his experiences working on an eclectic array of cinematic successes, from blockbusters such as Star Wars, Footloose, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off to genre hits with frequent collaborator Brian De Palma like Carrie, Blow Out, and Mission: Impossible. He also reckons with the duds (apologies to fans of The Adventures of Pluto Nash), the ups and downs of a career in showbiz, and becoming an industry elder statesman. The prose is pedestrian, but the stories and insights from a veteran editor will appeal to cinephiles and anyone looking to learn more about the craft.--Chad Comello Copyright 2019 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.

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