Q4 2023

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In life and on screen, picture editor Arthur Schmidt, ACE, got around. In the course of working on several of the most ambitious and accomplished contemporary American movies, Schmidt ventured into the past (and into the future), rubbed shoul- ders with presidents, and made contact with aliens. For director Robert Zemeckis, Schmidt was the editor of, among other classic films, the "Back to the Future" trilogy (1985, 1989, 1990), "Forrest Gump" (1994), and "Con- tact" (1997). He won two Oscars during his multi-decade partnership with Zemeckis: for "Forrest Gump" and "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" (1988). In an interview with CineMontage, Z e m e c k i s d e s c r i b e d S c h m i d t a s t r u l y a co l l a b o ra to r i n t h e e d i t i n g ro o m . " I really miss him; I really miss working with him," Zemeckis said. "We had a great, great relationship." Schmidt, who died on Aug. 5 at the age of 86, was almost as well-traveled in his own life. Though he was born and raised in Southern California, Schmidt spent several formative years in Spain, and throughout his life, he enjoyed journeys to new and familiar places. He was a cosmopolitan man who never let go of his early ambition to be a writer. He not only was a compulsive reader but believed all of the arts — not just the cinematic ones — ought to inform his work. "I have a whole file of Artie's thoughts about editing, which he prepared before giving talks," said his wife, Susan Schmidt. "One thing he always told people is don't get stuck behind a reel of film. Go out — go to museums, watch theater, read. It's just as important as having the editing skills." Even so, Schmidt's career path was undoubtedly lighted by his father, leg- endary editor Arthur P. Schmidt, who, during a long career in the industry, rose through the ranks to become the favorite editor of Billy Wilder, for whom he cut "Sunset Boulevard" (1950), "Ace in the Hole" (1951), "Sabrina" (1954), and "Some ARTHUR SCHMIDT JUNE 17, 1937–AUGUST 5, 2023 Like It Hot" (1959). One of four children born to Arthur P. and his wife Madeline, a former Goldwyn Girl, young Schmidt rel- ished a childhood spent in close proximity to the business. "From what I hear, he spent all his spare time at the movies," Susan Schmidt said. "And, every time we saw an old movie on television and the credits came up, he said, 'Oh, I delivered papers to him/her.'" Yet the elder Schmidt counseled his son against entering a profession with such uncertainty and stress. "His father always said, 'Don't go into this. Why don't you sell insurance instead?'" Susan Schmidt said. Upon receiving a degree in English from Santa Clara University in 1959, Schmidt did not take his father's advice, but he also stayed far away from motion pictures. He joked he would like to be the next Heming- way. Eventually, he found work teaching English as a second language in Spain, where he met future wife Susan (whose family, though British, had long made their home in Italy). Schmidt was finally compelled to make his way back to California after his father's untimely death in 1965. "Two of his father's assistants asked if he wanted a job, and he got an entry-level job in TV receiving — schlepping the uncut dailies as it was coming in after it had been shot," Susan Schmidt said. He used to sneak into the pro- jection booth to view the incoming material. Years as an apprentice editor were followed by years as an assistant editor. Eventually, though, Schmidt began getting opportunities to edit, including as the assistant editor working alongside picture editor Jim Clark on John Schlesinger's h u ge l y s u c c e s s f u l t h r i l l e r " M a ra t h o n Man" (1976), starring Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier. His own initial solo picture editing credits included Michael Mann's made-for-television picture "The Jericho Mile" (1979), for which he received an Emmy, and Michael Apted's biopic of Loretta Lynn, "Coal Miner's Daughter" (1980), for which he received his f irst Oscar nomination. It was on another picture directed by Apted — the 1984 drama "Firstborn" — when Schmidt f irst crossed paths with Zemeckis. The director was casting about for young actors who might be considered for the role of Marty McFly in "Back to the Future," a process that took him into Schmidt's cutting room on "Firstborn." Although Zemeckis did not find the right actor in the footage, he admired how the Schmidt, right, with director Robert Zemeckis. 64 C I N E M O N T A G E I N M E M O R I A M

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