Margaret Booth


Editor

About

Also Known As
Maggie Booth
Birth Place
Los Angeles, California, USA
Born
January 16, 1898
Died
October 28, 2002

Biography

Hailed by Kevin Brownlow in "The Parade's Gone By..." as "one of the great motion picture editors," Margaret Booth was an important and pioneering figure in the motion picture industry. In a career that spanned some nine decades, she went from being a film joiner in silents to an acclaimed editor to a production executive. Adopting a very low profile and rarely speaking with the press or...

Biography

Hailed by Kevin Brownlow in "The Parade's Gone By..." as "one of the great motion picture editors," Margaret Booth was an important and pioneering figure in the motion picture industry. In a career that spanned some nine decades, she went from being a film joiner in silents to an acclaimed editor to a production executive. Adopting a very low profile and rarely speaking with the press or historians, Booth remained (according to Brownlow, to whom she granted a rare interview in 1965), "reticent about her work and modest about her achievements."

Soon after completing her schooling, the Los Angeles native joined the D W Griffith Company in one of the areas open to women, as a film joiner. While her tenure with Griffith lasted only a few months, Booth acquired a working knowledge of how to cut a negative by eye. An even shorter stint at Paramount's laboratory assembling sections of film for release prints followed before being hired by Louis B Mayer where she worked as an assistant to director John M Stahl. Stahl was actively involved in the assemblage of his films and closely worked with the editors and, although a taskmaster, he proved a willing mentor. As Booth told Brownlow: "... he taught me the dramatic values of cutting. he taught me about tempo--in fact he taught me how to edit."

When Mayer merged his company with Metro and Goldwyn (to form MGM), Booth went along where she cut Stahl's "The Gay Deceiver" (1926) and "In Old Kentucky" (1927) among others. When the director opted to leave the studio, he invited Booth to join him, but she demurred, preferring to remain at MGM, partly due to Irving Thalberg. Although she was nervous about the advent of sound and the resulting technological challenges, she tamed them easily forging what has come to be known as "classical" Hollywood editing, seamless and unobtrusive. Over the next decade, she edited more than 20 motion pictures. Booth frequently worked with the top studio directors (i.e., Fred Niblo, Victor Fleming, Robert Z Leonard, Sidney Franklin, George Cukor) and counts among her credits films like "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" (1929), "Susan Lenox, Her Rise and Fall" (1931), "Dancing Lady" (1933), "The Barretts of Wimpole Street" (1934) and "Camille" (1937). Her only Academy Award nomination came for her sterling work on the 1935 version of "Mutiny on the Bounty," helmed by Frank Lloyd.

At the age of 40, Booth traded the cutting room for a studio office when she was appointed as MGM's supervising film editor, a post she held for almost 30 years. Under her tenure, she offered her comments and critiques to filmmakers (like pointing out to George Cukor that Ingrid Bergman was underacting in the early stages of filming 1944's "Gaslight") and made sure that the studio's output maintained a high standard as well as adapting to the latest changes in technology and style. Unlike the other studio department heads, most notably Douglas Shearer and Cedric Gibbons, she eschewed taking credit for her contributions.

At a time when others might consider retirement, Booth resumed "hands-on" work working as editor on John Huston's boxing drama "Fat City" (1973) and Sydney Pollack's old-fashioned love story "The Way We Were" (1974). She joined Rastar Productions in the mid-70s, where she consulted or edited several film comedies written by Neil Simon which were highly dependent on her adept use of tempo, perhaps reaching a high point with "The Goodbye Girl" (1977). That same year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences corrected its oversight by awarded Booth an honorary Oscar for her contributions to the craft of film editing. While her final film as editor was the overblown musical "Annie" (1982), helmed by John Huston, she was hardly to blame for its dismal failure. She continued to work into her 80s as a producer, earning her penultimate screen credit as executive producer of "The Slugger's Wife" (1985) at the age of 87 before formally retiring the following year. In January 1998, on the occasion of her 100th birthday, she was honored by the Motion Picture Editors Guild with a lifetime achievement award.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

MGM: When the Lion Roars (1992)

Writer (Feature Film)

Wise Girls (1929)
Titles

Producer (Feature Film)

The Slugger's Wife (1985)
Executive Producer
The Toy (1982)
Associate Producer
Seems Like Old Times (1980)
Associate Producer
Chapter Two (1979)
Associate Producer
The Cheap Detective (1978)
Associate Producer

Editing (Feature Film)

Annie (1982)
Executive Editor
Seems Like Old Times (1980)
Editor Supervisor
Chapter Two (1979)
Executive Editor
California Suite (1978)
Executive Editor
The Goodbye Girl (1977)
Editor
Murder By Death (1976)
Editor
The Black Bird (1975)
Editor
The Sunshine Boys (1975)
Executive Editor
The Way We Were (1973)
Editor
Fat City (1972)
Supervising Film Editor
To Find a Man (1972)
Supervising Film Editor
The Owl and the Pussycat (1970)
Film Editor
Ben-Hur (1959)
Film Editor
Gigi (1958)
Supervising Editor
The Red Badge of Courage (1951)
Addl Editor
A Yank at Oxford (1938)
Supervising Film Editor
Romeo and Juliet (1936)
Film Editor
Camille (1936)
Film Editor
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
Film Editor
Reckless (1935)
Film Editor
The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934)
Film Editor
Riptide (1934)
Film Editor
Dancing Lady (1933)
Film Editor
The White Sister (1933)
Film Editor
Bombshell (1933)
Film Editor
Storm at Daybreak (1933)
Film Editor
Peg O' My Heart (1933)
Film Editor
Smilin' Through (1932)
Film Editor
The Son-Daughter (1932)
Film Editor
Strange Interlude (1932)
Film Editor
Lovers Courageous (1932)
Film Editor
The Cuban Love Song (1931)
Film Editor
Susan Lenox (Her Fall and Rise) (1931)
Film Editor
Five and Ten (1931)
Film Editor
The Prodigal (1931)
Film Editor
It's a Wise Child (1931)
Film Editor
New Moon (1931)
Film Editor
Redemption (1930)
Film Editor
The Rogue Song (1930)
Film Editor
The Lady of Scandal (1930)
Film Editor
A Lady's Morals (1930)
Film Editor
Strictly Unconventional (1930)
Film Editor
The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1929)
Film Editor
Wise Girls (1929)
Film Editor
Bringing Up Father (1928)
Film Editor
Telling the World (1928)
Film Editor
The Enemy (1928)
Film Editor
A Lady of Chance (1928)
Film Editor
The Mysterious Lady (1928)
Film Editor
In Old Kentucky (1927)
Film Editor
Lovers? (1927)
Film Editor
Memory Lane (1926)
Film Editor
The Gay Deceiver (1926)
Film Editor
Fine Clothes (1925)
Film Editor
Husbands and Lovers (1924)
Film Editor
Why Men Leave Home (1924)
Film Editor

Film Production - Main (Feature Film)

The V.I.P.s (1963)
Prod adv

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Annie (1982)
Assistant

Life Events

1915

Began career as "film joiner" for D.W. Griffith

1921

Moved to Mayer Studios; first films--mostly mostly directed by John M Stahl--as assitant editor

1924

Debut as co-editor, "Why Men Leave Home", directed by Stahl

1926

First film as solo editor, "Memory Lane", also directed by Stahl

1929

Initial sound film as editor, "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" (opening and end sequences)

1935

Edited Frank Borgaze's "Mutiny on the Bounty"; earned an Oscar nomination

1937

Was editor of "Camille", directed by George Cukor

1939

Served as supervising film editor at MGM

1963

Was a production advisor on "The V.I.P.s"

1970

Supervised the editing of "The Owl and the Pussycat"

1972

Cut John Huston's boxing drama "Fat City"

1973

Was editor of Sydney Pollack's "The Way We Were"

1975

Initial collaboration on a Neil Simon film, supervised the editing of "The Sunshine Boys"

1977

Was editor of "The Goodbye Girl"; scripted by Simon and directed by Herbert Ross

1978

First film as associate producer, "The Cheap Detective"

1985

Final film credit, as executive producer of the Neil Simon-scripted "The Slugger's Wife"

Videos

Movie Clip

Trailer

Gigi (1958) -- (Original Trailer) A Parisian girl (Leslie Caron) is raised to be a kept woman but dreams of love and marriage in Gigi (1958), directed by Vincente Minnelli.
Annie - (Original Trailer) An orphan attracts the attention of a Wall Street tycoon and a con artist in John Huston's movie version of the Broadway hit Annie (1982).
Sunshine Boys, The - (Original Trailer) A feuding comedy team reunites for a television comeback in Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys (1975) with an Academy Award®-winning performance by George Burns.
Way We Were, The - (Original Trailer) Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford in one of the '70's greatest romances wrapped around the turbulent American politics of the 30's and 40's.
Camille - (Re-issue Trailer) A kept woman runs off with a young admirer in search of love and happiness in Camille (1937) starring Greta Garbo.
Seems Like Old Times - (Original Trailer) Lady lawyer Goldie Hawn tries to hide her ex-husband Chevy Chase when he's wrongly accused of bank robbery in Neil Simon's Seems Like Old Times (1980).
Yank At Oxford, A - (Original Trailer) Robert Taylor is a cocky American student who runs into trouble when he becomes A Yank At Oxford (1938) co-starring a young Vivien Leigh.
Dancing Lady - (Re-issue Trailer) Joan Crawford loves Clark Gable but sings and dances with Fred Astaire in Dancing Lady (1933) with a guest appearance by the Three Stooges.
Reckless - (Original Trailer) A theatrical star (Jean Harlow) gets in over her head when she marries a drunken millionaire (William Powell) in Reckless (1935).
Goodbye Girl, The - (Original Trailer) Richard Dreyfuss won a Best Actor Oscar playing an aspiring actor who sublets an apartment from dancer Marsha Mason in Neil Simon's The Goodbye Girl (1977).
Murder By Death - (Original Trailer) An all-star cast parodies famous detectives in the Neil Simon whodunit spoof Murder By Death (1976).
Red Badge of Courage, The - (Original Trailer) A young Union soldier (Audie Murphy) struggles to atone for a moment of cowardice in The Red Badge of Courage (1951), directed by John Huston.

Family

Elmer Booth
Brother
Actor.

Bibliography