Born: June 14, 1926; Died February 5, 2013.
Gerry Hambling, who has died aged 86, was one of British cinema's most celebrated editors. He worked regularly with Alan Parker on the likes of Bugsy Malone (1976), The Commitments (1991) and Evita (1996), won three Bafta awards and accumulated no fewer than six Academy Awards nominations (though strangely he never won).
One of the last of the old school of editors, he eschewed electronic technology, preferring to use film – running it in a linear manner through an old Moviola machine, along with pencil and guillotine. It is like someone choosing to look for a scene on a VHS cassette rather than on a DVD. "Speed isn't everything," Hambling said. "You spend time thinking about the next cut or some aspect of the film."
The way he cut scenes, the rhythm and pace, was studied in film schools. And yet his film career almost came to an end at the beginning of the 1970s when the industry looked to be in terminal decline.
He had started as a teenager at Pinewood in the 1940s and edited Norman Wisdom and Morecambe and Wise comedies in the 1960s. That looked like it was going to be the peak of his career when he was forced to take work editing television commercials. It turned out to be a stroke of good fortune, for that was where he met the young Alan Parker with whom he worked on 14 feature films.
Born in Croydon, Surrey, in 1926, Gerald Hambling left school in his mid-teens with no particular sense of what he wanted to do. He found employment at Rank's Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire and ended up learning the job of editing.
He worked uncredited on numerous films in the late 1940s and early 1950s, graduated to dubbing editor on Trouble in the Glen, a 1954 comedy with Orson Welles as a South American who becomes a Scottish laird, and sound editor on the 1956 epic Alexander the Great.
It was in comedy he began to build his reputation as chief editor, cutting several Norman Wisdom films, including A Stitch in Time (1963), and Morecambe and Wise's feature films, The Intelligence Men (1965), That Riviera Touch (1966) and The Magnificent Two (1967).
Parker found Hambling resentful of the fact he had gone from feature films to adverts and described him as curmudgeonly. But he was impressed with his skills as an editor.
Parker was one of a number of film directors to emerge from the field of television commercials and his move to films revived Hambling's career.
They made an immediate impact with Bugsy Malone, a gangster movie that was also a musical, with a cast composed entirely of children (including Jodie Foster) and a frenetic custard-pie shoot-out.
Hambling managed to bring out the innocence and fun of it all in his edit, reflecting perhaps earlier work with comedians who could trace their influences back to slapstick.
Their other films include Midnight Express (1978), Fame (1980), Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982) and Mississippi Burning (1988). Hambling worked with other directors too, editing Jim Sheridan's In the Name of the Father (1993) and Ridley Scott's White Squall (1996). His last film was Parker's The Life of David Gale in 2003.
Hambling is survived by his wife Margaret, a daughter and a son.
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