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Dorothy Spencer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dorothy Spencer
Dorothy Spencer in her home in Encinitas, CA, June 1985
Dorothy M. Spencer[1]

(1909-02-03)February 3, 1909
DiedMay 23, 2002(2002-05-23) (aged 93)
OccupationFilm editor
Years active1929–1979
FamilyJeanne Spencer (sister)

Dorothy Spencer (February 3, 1909 – May 23, 2002), known as Dot Spencer, was an American film editor with 75 feature film credits from a career that spanned more than 50 years.[2][3] Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Film Editing on four occasions, she is remembered for editing three of director John Ford's best known movies, including Stagecoach (1939) and My Darling Clementine (1946), which film critic Roger Ebert called "Ford's greatest Western".[4]

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Spencer was born in Covington, Kentucky in 1909. She entered the film industry at age 15 when she joined Consolidated-Aller Lab in 1924. She moved to Fox, becoming a member of the editorial department. Worked at First National Studios assisting editors including Louis Loeffler and Irene Morra. At Fox, she and Loeffler were part of an editorial team that also included, at one time or another, Barbara McLean, Robert Simpson, William Reynolds and Hugh S. Fowler.[citation needed]

In the 1940s, Spencer edited Alfred Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent (1940) and Lifeboat (1944); the latter featured a particularly feisty and well-edited Tallulah Bankhead performance. Spencer edited four films with director Ernst Lubitsch, commencing with To Be or Not to Be (1942), and now considered "one of film's great farces",[5] and concluding with Lubitsch's last, posthumous credit That Lady in Ermine (1948). Spencer also edited director Elia Kazan's feature film debut, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945).

Spencer edited the disaster film Earthquake (1974), which was the last of her eight collaborations with director Mark Robson.

Variety's Eileen Kowalski notes that, "Indeed, many of the editorial greats have been women: Dede Allen, Verna Fields, Thelma Schoonmaker, Anne V. Coates and Dorothy Spencer."[6] Spencer was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Film Editing for Earthquake, which was her fourth and final nomination. It followed her nomination for what still reigns as the most expensive movie ever made, Cleopatra (1963).[citation needed]

Spencer had previously been nominated for Decision Before Dawn (directed by Anatole Litvak, 1951) and, with Otho Lovering, for Stagecoach (directed by John Ford, 1939). Spencer was awarded the American Cinema Editors Career Achievement Award in 1989, and was among the first four editors to receive the Award.[citation needed]

She retired to Encinitas, California. She had disconnected from Hollywood so much that her death, decades later, was not noted in the press of the time.[7]

Partial filmography

This filmography is based on the listing at the Internet Movie Database.[3]

As assistant editor

As editor

See also


  1. ^ Social Security Death Index listing for SSN 565-16-7201; see "Person Details for Dorothy M. Spencer aka: Dot (V.C. Aunt once removed)". FamilySearch. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
  2. ^ "Overview for Dorothy Spencer". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
  3. ^ a b Dorothy Spencer at IMDb
  4. ^ Ebert, Roger (October 26, 1997). "Great Movies: My Darling Clementine". Chicago Sun Times.
  5. ^ Schwartz, Dennis (September 22, 2005). "To Be or Not to Be". Archived from the original on July 6, 2018. Retrieved June 7, 2015.
  6. ^ (Editor) "Tina Hirsch" By Eileen Kowalski Variety 14 November 2001 (subscription)
  7. ^ Edwards, Gavin (October 29, 2022). "Overlooked No More: Dorothy Spencer, Film Editor Sought Out by Big Directors". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 5, 2022.

Further reading

  • Flynn, Peter (2000). "Dorothy Spencer". In Pendergast, Tom; Pendergast, Sara (eds.). International Dictionary of Film and Filmmakers. Vol. 4 (4 ed.). St. James Press. p. 810. ISBN 9781558624535. In Stagecoach the editing principles of the Russian Formalists were deftly employed to convey suspense and pace. Most apparent is the chase sequence—in which the stagecoach is pursued by hostile Comanches—where the cutting is deliberately disorienting to convey the consternation of the passengers, while the crosscutting (alternating between the passengers' point of view and shots of the besetting Indians) increases the scene's tempo. The film was to earn Spencer her first Academy Award nomination. Encyclopedia article that describes several highlights of Spencer's editing career.
This page was last edited on 12 June 2024, at 16:08
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