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Margaret Booth

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Margaret Booth
Born(1898-01-16)January 16, 1898
DiedOctober 28, 2002(2002-10-28) (aged 104)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
EducationLos Angeles High School
Occupation(s)Film editor, producer
Years active1915–1985
RelativesElmer Booth (brother)

Margaret Booth (January 16, 1898 – October 28, 2002) was an American film editor. In a career lasting seven decades, Booth was most associated with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM).

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Early life

Margaret Booth was born on January 16, 1898, in Los Angeles to Edward J. Booth, Sr. and Margaret A. Boland.[1] Her older brother was Elmer Booth, who was an actor for D. W. Griffith and the breadwinner for the family. On June 16, 1915, Elmer was riding with actor George Siegmann in a car driven by Tod Browning. Due to the heavy fog that day, Browning did not see the rear lamp of an oncoming train. Browning's car was hit by a train of the Salt Lake Railroad, killing Elmer instantly. Browning and Siegmann however survived but suffered serious injuries.[2] At Elmer's funeral, Griffith delivered an eulogy and approached Margaret with a job offer as a film joiner (also known as a negative cutter) to provide income for the family.[3] Margaret never forgave Browning for her brother's death.[4]

1915–1921: Editing for D. W. Griffith

By this time, Booth had graduated from Los Angeles High School. Griffith hired Booth on a salary for ten dollars a week as one of several female editors for his studio.[5] Booth remembered years later, " the old days we had to cut negative by eye. We matched the print to the negative without any edge numbers. We had to match the action. Sometimes there'd be a tiny pinpoint on the negative, and then you knew you were right, but it was very tedious work."[6][7] One of the films she worked on was Orphans of the Storm (1921) starring Lillian Gish. After a few months, Booth worked for Paramount Pictures' editing department, assembling the tinted sections for release prints.[6]

1921–1938: Editing at MGM

In 1921, Booth began working for Louis B. Mayer at his namesake film production studio.[8] Mayer had hired John M. Stahl when Edward Small, who was Stahl's publicity agent, inquired why there were no hired Jewish directors.[9] Booth observed Stahl in the editing room. Because Stahl was a perfectionist, he would shoot multiple takes of several scenes and leave outtake footage literally on the cutting room floor. At the end of the day, Booth assembled the outtakes and stayed overnight to practice her cutting techniques. One day, Stahl was frustrated when he couldn't make a scene work. After he left, Booth took her own approach; when Stahl screened her work, he was impressed and hired her immediately as his editorial assistant.[6][7] For Stahl, she edited The Gay Deceiver (1926), Lovers? (1927), and In Old Kentucky (1927).[10]

Stahl personally mentored Booth on the craft of film editing, explaining the exact purpose for his editing decisions. Booth reflected, "He taught the value of a scene. When a scene drops or doesn't drop, and when it sustains. You have to feel this, intrusively, in your work."[5] In 1924, Mayer merged with Metro Pictures and Goldwyn Pictures to form a new conglomerate film production studio known as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). Stahl stayed with MGM for several years,[11] but when he left the studio in 1927, he asked Booth to join him but she declined. Booth stated, "I went on to working at M-G-M, mostly with [Irving] Thalberg—the greatest man who was ever in pictures. M-G-M was like home to me."[12] Her editing skills were appreciated by Thalberg, MGM's head of production, that he asked her if she would consider directing. However, she was not interested.[5] Regardless, according to film historian Cari Beauchamp, Thalberg was the first known person to call cutters "film editors," starting with Booth.[13] Her first official editing credit was for the 1929 part-talkie film The Bridge of San Luis Rey.[14]

At MGM, Booth edited several films starring Greta Garbo, including Camille (1936). She also edited Wise Girls (1929), The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934), and Romeo and Juliet (1936).[15] Booth received her only competitive Academy Award nomination for Best Film Editing on Mutiny on the Bounty (1935).[15]

1939–1968: Supervising editor of MGM

In 1936, Thalberg had unexpectedly died and Mayer assumed the position as production head. Three years later, in 1939, Mayer appointed Booth to be the studio's supervising film editor.[15] Booth stated, "They liked me because I was fast. I was always very fast cutting everything I did. And boy, was I tough."[5] As the supervising editor, she did no actual film editing herself but instead hired the personnel and reviewed the dailies for each film, overseeing classics such as The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Ben-Hur (1959).[15][16] In his 1995 book Making Movies, director Sidney Lumet called Booth "a remarkable person. She was bright and tireless, and she loved movies. I don't know if she had any other life."[17] He told one story while filming The Hill (1965) in England, in which she arrived on location and asked to see a rough-cut version, promptly at eight during the following morning. A screening was arranged for her, with Lumet and Thelma Connell, the editor for The Hill, present. When the screening was over, she asked for two minutes of the film to be cut so it would be under two hours. Lumet pushed back and after two more screenings, Booth relented. Following the third screening, Lumet consoled a despondent Booth, who personally felt none of the new studio executives knew or care about filmmaking.[18] She remained in her position until she retired in 1968.[15][19]

In its 1982 article about Booth's long tenureship, the Village Voice describes her as "the final authority of every picture the studio made for 30 years."[20]

1969–1985: Editing for Ray Stark

After leaving MGM, Booth was hired by Ray Stark as the supervising editor for his company, Rastar Productions. She supervised the editing for several films, including The Way We Were (1973), The Sunshine Boys (1975), The Goodbye Girl (1977), California Suite (1978), and Annie (1982).[10] She was last credited as an executive producer for The Slugger's Wife (1985) when she was 87.[15]

In 1977, Booth was awarded an Academy Honorary Award denoting her for "62 years of exceptionally distinguished service to the motion picture industry as a film editor."[15] In 1983, she was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award for outstanding women who, through their endurance and the excellence of their work, have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry.[21] In 1990, Booth was also honored with the American Cinema Editors Career Achievement Award.[citation needed] On her centennial birthday, in 1998, Booth was honored with a gala commemorating her seven-decade contributions to the film industry at the Sheraton Universal Hotel, hosted by the Motion Picture Editors Guild.[22]

Death and legacy

On October 28, 2002, Booth, at age 104, died from complications after suffering a stroke. She is interred at Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood California.[13] In their obituary for Booth, the British newspaper The Guardian stated, "All the filmmakers had to go through her in order to have a final editing of sound and vision approved," while describing her approach:

She was a pioneer of the classic editing style, the so-called "invisible cutting", the aim of which was to make the transition from one image to another as seamless as possible, so the audience was almost unaware of the flow of shots within a sequence. Narrative was dominant, maintaining a continuity of time and space, and matching cuts to action.[10]


Year Title Director Notes Refs
1921 Orphans of the Storm D. W. Griffith Cutter
1924 Why Men Leave Home John M. Stahl Co-editor
Collaborated with Stahl
Husbands and Lovers [23]
1925 Fine Clothes [23]
1926 Memory Lane [23]
The Gay Deceiver [23]
1927 The Enemy Fred Niblo Editor [23]
Lovers? John M. Stahl Editor [23]
In Old Kentucky Editor [23]
1928 Bringing Up Father Jack Conway Editor [23]
Telling the World Sam Wood Editor
Collaborated with John Colton
The Mysterious Lady Fred Niblo Editor [23]
A Lady of Chance Robert Z. Leonard Editor [23]
1929 The Bridge of San Luis Rey Charles Brabin Editor [23]
Wise Girls E. Mason Hopper Editor
1930 The Rogue Song Lionel Barrymore Editor [23]
Redemption Fred Niblo Editor [23]
Strictly Unconventional David Burton Editor [23]
The Lady of Scandal Sidney Franklin Editor [23]
A Lady's Morals Editor [23]
1931 New Moon Jack Conway Editor [15]
The Prodigal Harry A. Pollard Editor [15]
It's a Wise Child Robert Z. Leonard Editor [15]
The Cuban Love Song W. S. Van Dyke Editor [15]
Five and Ten Robert Z. Leonard Editor [15]
Susan Lenox (Her Fall and Rise) Editor [15]
1932 Lovers Courageous Editor [15]
Smilin' Through Sidney Franklin Editor [15]
Strange Interlude Robert Z. Leonard Editor [15]
The Son-Daughter Clarence Brown Editor [15]
1933 White Sister Victor Fleming Editor [15]
Peg o' My Heart Robert Z. Leonard Editor [15]
Storm at Daybreak Richard Boleslawski Editor [15]
Bombshell Victor Fleming Editor [15]
Dancing Lady Robert Z. Leonard Editor [15]
1934 Riptide Edmund Goulding Editor [15]
The Barretts of Wimpole Street Sidney Franklin Editor [15]
1935 Reckless Victor Fleming Editor [15]
Mutiny on the Bounty Frank Lloyd Editor
Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Film Editing
1936 Camille George Cukor Editor [15]
Romeo and Juliet Editor [15]
1938 A Yank at Oxford Jack Conway Editorial Supervisor [15]
1963 The V.I.P.s Anthony Asquith Production advisor [15]
1970 The Owl and the Pussycat Herbert Ross Editorial Supervisor [15]
1972 Fat City John Huston Editorial Supervisor [15]
1973 The Way We Were Sydney Pollock Editorial Supervisor [15]
1975 The Sunshine Boys Herbert Ross Editorial Supervisor [15]
The Black Bird David Giler Editorial Supervisor [15]
1976 Murder by Death Robert Moore Editorial Supervisor [15]
1977 The Goodbye Girl Herbert Ross Editorial Supervisor [15]
1978 California Suite Editorial Supervisor [15]
The Cheap Detective Robert Moore Associate producer [15]
Chapter Two Editorial Supervisor
Associate producer
1980 Seems Like Old Times Jay Sandrich Editorial Supervisor
Associate producer
1982 The Toy Richard Donner Associate producer [15]
Annie John Huston Associate producer [15]
1985 The Slugger's Wife Hal Ashby Executive producer [15]

See also


  1. ^ California, County Birth and Death Records, 1800–1994
  2. ^ "Elmer Booth Killed". Moving Picture World. July 3, 1915. p. 75. Retrieved April 1, 2024 – via Internet Archive.
  3. ^ Malone 2017, p. 34.
  4. ^ Ska, David J. (2001). The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror. Macmillan. p. 35. ISBN 978-0571199969.
  5. ^ a b c d Acker 1991, p. 221.
  6. ^ a b c d Brownlow 1968, p. 302.
  7. ^ a b Malone 2017, p. 35.
  8. ^ Galloway, Douglas (October 31, 2002). "Obituaries: Margaret Booth". Variety. Archived from the original on April 2, 2024. Retrieved April 2, 2024.
  9. ^ Eyman 2005, p. 56.
  10. ^ a b c Bergan, Ronald (November 15, 2002). "Obituary: Margaret Booth". The Guardian. Archived from the original on October 15, 2023. Retrieved April 2, 2024.
  11. ^ Eyman 2005, p. 66.
  12. ^ Brownlow 1968, p. 303.
  13. ^ a b Luther, Claudia (October 31, 2002). "Margaret Booth, 104; Film Editor Had 70-Year Career". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on December 2, 2023. Retrieved October 15, 2019.
  14. ^ "Margaret Booth, Film Editor, 104". Associated Press. The New York Times. November 2, 2002. p. B4. Archived from the original on April 12, 2022. Retrieved April 2, 2024.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar Unterberger 1998, p. 43.
  16. ^ Malone 2017, p. 36.
  17. ^ Lumet 1995, p. 151.
  18. ^ Lumet 1995, pp. 152–154.
  19. ^ Hatch, Kirsten (2013). "Margaret Booth". Women Film Pioneers Project. New York: Columbia University Libraries. doi:10.7916/d8-ps4e-hw86. Archived from the original on April 2, 2024.
  20. ^ Rafferty, Terrance (November 30, 1982). "His Girl Friday". Village Voice. p. 83.
  21. ^ "Past Recipients". Women in Film Awards. Archived from the original on August 30, 2011. Retrieved May 10, 2011.
  22. ^ Viera, Lauren (January 15, 1998). "Legendary Editor Gets Time in the Spotlight". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on July 10, 2015. Retrieved April 2, 2024.
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Unterberger 1998, p. 42.

Works cited

External links

This page was last edited on 7 June 2024, at 09:58
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