Saturday, March 11, 2017

Women Who Rock and/or Make History: Concrete Blonde and Thelma Schoonmaker, Dede Allen & Verna Fields

March is Girl Women's History Month.

Fact: girls can do things too!

Fact: girls can't do rock and roll, or so one might conclude from the paucity of females inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (motto: "We've got Randy Newman!"). Real fact: girls can do rock and roll (some of them).

Since I am enjoying getting on my high horse (or getting high on horse), I'm going to double dip with a series of girl-on-girl posts. It's a combination of a female musical act (or a band with a female member [possibly more]) that merits* induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and a female who did something like bake a cake or killed a guy (Laura Bush killed a guy).

Concrete Blonde hit the music scene in 1986 with their self-titled debut, one of a few actual rock albums with a female vocalist that year. They developed their sound and audience, earning a pretty solid "one hit wonder" single with "Joey" in 1990. When I saw Johnette Napolitano open for Paul Weller in 1997 she said she stopped playing the song for a while then decided to resume, reasoning that the song bought her mom a house.

Napolitano also gets bonus points for closing the band's 1989 show in Atlanta with an acapella version of "Words." I'm pretty sure most people at the show had no idea it was a Bee Gees song.

The women of this post aren't unique in the role of film editors on high profile movies--women have been editing film as early as Margaret Booth in 1915 and worked on classics like The Ten Commandments, Stagecoach, Lawrence of Arabia and Cleopatra. But these 3 editors represented a new generation of American film makers and their style influenced generations of directors who would follow.

Thelma Schoomaker is Martin Scorcese's film editor. While Scorcese was denied an Oscar win until 2007, Schoonmaker won 3 Oscars for work on his movies, beginning with Raging Bull (she was nominated before working with him; 6 of her 7 nominations and all 3 of her wins are for his films).

Dede Allen edited Bonnie and Clyde (the shoot out in the finale confused the studio executives who fired her from the film, but Warren Beatty kept her on paying her himself. Her other films include Dog Day Afternoon, Reds and The Breakfast Club (for reals, that's how I learned who she was, writing a paper on The Breakfast Club).

Verna Fields was a USC professor and editor who earned the name "Mother Cutter." She worked on the first films of George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Peter Bogdanovich. She edited Jaws for fuck's sake.

* There is a wide spectrum of rock & roll gravitas for the artists included in the 31 I will include. I feel like a reasonable case can be made for each, and everyone one of these is at least as worthy as Randy Newman, 2103 inductee.

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