November/December 2014

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56 CINEMONTAGE / NOV-DEC 14 by Walter Hess I n 1960, after college, the army, UCLA film school, paying my dues as a can-carrying apprentice and assisting (mostly on commercials, but also some documentaries and industrials), I received a call from the editor Peggy Lawson, who said, "Sidney needs an assistant; I'm recommending you." Wow — a documentary series on ABC, Winston Churchill: The Valiant Years (1960-61). And even greater was the fact that I was going to work with Sidney Meyers. Toward the end of the series, Sidney had to leave for another job. "I'm scheduled for one more piece," he told me. "I've told them you're going to do it." Working with Sidney then, and later, changed my life. Many years later, I found some remarks by the novelist and critic Clancy Sigal, who had once been an assistant to Sidney during the making of his great film The Quiet One (1948). Sigal's description of Sidney — which he wrote in a letter to Sidney's wife Edna after the editor's passing — felt right. Sigal knew what I was to get to know. "He had time to spend with me, a film newcomer, and we spent many afternoons discussing life, art and politics, sometimes just horsing around, and occasionally he let me watch him cut," Sigal wrote. "He was...a master. I'd never before seen such playful competence. At first, it was terribly confusing to me because I never knew what was supposed to be serious and what was a joke. Later, I learned that this was Sidney's method of instruction, to break down the distinction… The Savagely Quiet One R E M E M B E R I N G S I D N E Y M E Y E R S The Quiet One. Photofest

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