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Academy-Award Nominated Editor Found Dead Near Los Angeles' Griffith Park
September 28, 2010 1:43 PM   Subscribe

Sally Menke, the woman who edited every Quentin Tarantino film, has died at age 56.

Menke had a twenty-year career as an editor in Hollywood, working on the films Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Heaven and Earth and Mulholland Falls, though she probably best known for her longstanding and fruitful collaboration with Tarantino. From Reservoir Dogs to Inglorious Basterds, Tarantino worked exclusively with Menke, utilizing her talents on every film in which he was the principal director. In 1994 Menke was nominated for an Academy Award for her outstanding work on Pulp Fiction.

Menke died while jogging in Beachwood Canyon near Griffith Park sometime yesterday. While the cause of death is not certain at this time, heat is a possible factor, as Los Angeles experienced the highest temperatures in its recorded history on Monday, topping out at 113 degrees Fahrenheit.
posted by joechip (63 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
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Menke died while jogging in Beachwood Canyon near Griffith Park sometime yesterday. While the cause of death is not certain at this time, heat is a possible factor, as Los Angeles experienced the highest temperatures in its recorded history on Monday, topping out at 113 degrees Fahrenheit.

That is some scary stuff.

Hydrate, people!
posted by Artw at 1:45 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


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posted by reductiondesign at 1:47 PM on September 28, 2010


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posted by nataaniinez at 1:48 PM on September 28, 2010


I've been enjoying the "Hi Sally" videos that had been on some of the DVD extras - Tarantino was getting cast and crew to adlib hellos to Sally.

Inglorious Basterds "Hi Sally"

Death Proof "Hi Sally"
posted by fijiwriter at 1:52 PM on September 28, 2010 [35 favorites]


shit.
loved her work.
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posted by angrycat at 1:52 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by mazola at 1:53 PM on September 28, 2010


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posted by joedan at 1:56 PM on September 28, 2010


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posted by JHarris at 1:59 PM on September 28, 2010


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posted by brundlefly at 2:00 PM on September 28, 2010


If you have NetFlix, they have a documentary on Instant Watch about editors that has some interviews with her and Quentin. They seemed really close. Such a shame.
posted by smackfu at 2:01 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


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posted by burnmp3s at 2:03 PM on September 28, 2010


Editing is one of those things that, when done well, is almost completely invisible, and most people don't even realize how much of the movie is invented right there at the editing station.

She will be sorely missed. Her skills and talent made some of my favorite movies.

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posted by quin at 2:06 PM on September 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Wow, wish someone would say Hi to me on some of this footage I'm working on. But it would be kind of weird, since it's a documentary.

That said, she must have had the patience of a lion to work with Tarantino all this time. Sad to see her go.

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posted by fungible at 2:09 PM on September 28, 2010


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posted by cavalier at 2:20 PM on September 28, 2010


She was so young. What a shame.

Yeah, it's true--good editing is unnoticeable (which, as quin says, is the point), but certainly is an integral part of moviemaking. I liked her work, and I think Quentin Tarantino's success owes a lot to her.

What made me saddest from the linked article: Menke's body was found just after 2 a.m. at the bottom of a ravine near the 5600 block of Green Oak Drive in Bronson Canyon. Her dog was sitting next to her body....

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posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:21 PM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


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posted by psylosyren at 2:24 PM on September 28, 2010


Oh wow, those "Hi, Sally" videos take on a really poignant quality now, don't they?
posted by padraigin at 2:27 PM on September 28, 2010


Menke's dog was found alive and sitting next to her body.
posted by fatbird at 2:27 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by jtron at 2:27 PM on September 28, 2010


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posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:28 PM on September 28, 2010


god damn. I feel like all these amazing editors die way too young. Geraldine Peroni, now Sally Menke. wtf.
posted by shmegegge at 2:30 PM on September 28, 2010


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posted by gomichild at 2:32 PM on September 28, 2010


I liked her work, and I think Quentin Tarantino's success owes a lot to her.

I suspect you have a point - editing isn't a thing I think about a lot, but on Tarantino films it is super tight.
posted by Artw at 2:33 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is a real loss. Takes some mad skills to lash those film together with such mastery. The detail about her dog is poignant in the extreme.

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posted by kinnakeet at 2:34 PM on September 28, 2010


OK, "Hi Sallys" are the greatest, saddest things I've ever seen.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:35 PM on September 28, 2010


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posted by Splunge at 2:36 PM on September 28, 2010


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posted by Joey Michaels at 2:41 PM on September 28, 2010


This is really shitty.

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posted by SmileyChewtrain at 2:43 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think you needed to link to HuffPo for reporting on L.A.'s heat wave.
posted by jabberjaw at 2:46 PM on September 28, 2010


I've spent too much free time loving those movies, so it warrants at the very least this:

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(If *insert your deity* exists, I hope *pronoun* welcomes her with a "Hi, Sally!" for such memorable movies.)
posted by fijiwriter at 2:49 PM on September 28, 2010


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posted by christhelongtimelurker at 2:55 PM on September 28, 2010


Wow. This made me really sad. She will be missed.
posted by stoneweaver at 2:56 PM on September 28, 2010


Edgar Wright's tribute

Pity she never won an Oscar. Pulp Fiction had far better editing than bloody Forrest Gump
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:14 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Editors are the unsung heroes of that entire industry.

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posted by sammyo at 3:23 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Damn it all, she was one of the absolute best, and to hear people tell it a wonderful person as well.

I didn't know about the "Hi Sally"s, which are just fantastic, and show how much Tarantino refused to take her collaboration for granted.

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posted by Navelgazer at 3:23 PM on September 28, 2010


Sally Menke was an excellent editor. After watching a movie the other day, I was just thinking generally about women in fields like editing. Sally Menke and Thelma Schoonmaker were among the few whose names immediately came to mind. Film really is poorer now.

That bit about her dog is heartbreaking.
posted by cmgonzalez at 3:38 PM on September 28, 2010


And those "Hi Sally's" are really great. I hadn't seen them before, and I'm sorry this is the reason why.
posted by cmgonzalez at 3:39 PM on September 28, 2010


Lost one of the best..

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posted by starman at 3:40 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't know much about "behind the scenes" stuff in the film biz, but I know that QT's movies are awesome thanks in no small part to Sally...as noted upstream, her skills were integral to making those movies so perfect.

And thank you for sharing the Hi Sally videos - had no idea such things existed, and I suspect her loved ones will cherish them.
posted by davidmsc at 4:02 PM on September 28, 2010


Yes, forgot to say, thanks fijiwriter for linking the "Hi Sally" videos. I hadn't seen them before and they are great. One expecially nice thing about them is that they're not posthumous tributes--she got to see the appreciation and obvious affection people had for her while she was alive. It makes me think well of Quentin Tarantino that he got his casts to show their appreciation for her like that.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:13 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by DaddyNewt at 4:15 PM on September 28, 2010


Editing is everything, and she was one of the best.

And yes, there are a lot of great female editors. It's kind of a tradition from the earliest days of film when the importance of the editorial department wasn't fully appreciated and they just grabbed a couple of women out of the secretarial pool and taught them how to splice film together. Another brilliant female editor who we just lost was Karen Schmeer, who worked with Errol Morris.

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posted by vibrotronica at 4:18 PM on September 28, 2010


from the LA Times article: ". . . Menke and a hiking buddy set out about 9 a.m. to hike a trail in Bronson Canyon, in the shadows of the Hollywood sign. An hour later, Menke's partner decided to turn back. Menke and her Labrador retriever continued on."

Always hike with a buddy. No exceptions.

So tragic.

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posted by killy willy at 4:20 PM on September 28, 2010


I was resisting watching the Hi Sally videos because I didn't want to be sad, but it turns out they're sort of bittersweet to watch here. She was clearly very loved by her colleagues. Talented, too. Sad, sad.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:28 PM on September 28, 2010


Bye, Sally.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:41 PM on September 28, 2010


I watched Pulp Fiction again just a few weeks ago and I remember actually thinking at the time just how well edited this bit is...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:44 PM on September 28, 2010


This is terrible news. Very, very sad to hear this.
posted by OolooKitty at 4:53 PM on September 28, 2010


This is very sad. I'm not sure if there's been any deaths attributed to the heat yesterday, but it was the single hottest day that I've ever experienced in my life.

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posted by Bookhouse at 5:24 PM on September 28, 2010


One of my closest friends, Elaine, is also an amazing editor. I think I'll go call her now.

And...

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posted by dbiedny at 5:27 PM on September 28, 2010


What a terrible way to find out about those Hi Sallys. Damn.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 5:42 PM on September 28, 2010


In the end the editor can make or break a film.

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posted by nola at 6:01 PM on September 28, 2010


Editing is one of those things that, when done well, is almost completely invisible, and most people don't even realize how much of the movie is invented right there at the editing station.

Absolutely. Well said. Like defense in sports.

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posted by mannequito at 6:37 PM on September 28, 2010


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posted by DZack at 6:54 PM on September 28, 2010


Crap. Loved her work.

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posted by lumpenprole at 7:30 PM on September 28, 2010


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posted by 1000monkeys at 7:36 PM on September 28, 2010


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posted by JauntyFedora at 8:00 PM on September 28, 2010


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posted by millions at 9:30 PM on September 28, 2010


One of the best things about Tarintino is how generous he was. He always said that Sally's work made his films, as much as the actors did. The communitarian aspect of his work is vastly under rated--he also is immensely respectful of women's skills behind and in front of the camera. No one in Hollywood writes women better.
posted by PinkMoose at 9:32 PM on September 28, 2010


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posted by ambulance blues at 12:36 AM on September 29, 2010


This is an horrible year for editors, (Dede Allen and Karen Schmeer also passed away in 2010).
Menke was one of the best, her collaboration with Tarantino was like Scorcese/Shoonmaker or Coppola/Murch, the stuff of legend.

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posted by SageLeVoid at 1:30 AM on September 29, 2010


Sally Menke: the quiet heroine of the Quentin Tarantino success story
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:13 AM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's even a trunk shot "Hi, Sally" in the Death Proof reel. Aw, man. There was genuine love in that collaboration, and it shows.
posted by Spatch at 11:53 AM on September 29, 2010


A tragedy.

Bye Sally
posted by A189Nut at 1:07 PM on September 29, 2010


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