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Sally Menke, Oscar-nominated film editor, found dead in Griffith Park


It is a somber day in filmmaking history.

Sally Menke, award-winning film editor, is found dead in Bronson Canyon at the age of 56 on September 28th, 2010. Menke’s work can be immediately recognized in every Quentin Tarantino film from Reservoir Dogs to Inglourious Basterds.

Friends of Sally’s reported her missing after she had not returned from a hiking trip begun early Monday morning. A helicopter, police and search dogs were dispatched, with family and friends in tow, to canvass Griffith Park. She was located just after 2 a.m. in a ravine with her labrador retriever sitting by her side, no more than a hundred yards from nearby homes.

The cause of death has yet to be disclosed but speculation suggests the record-breaking heat may have been a factor.

It could be said that Sally’s contribution to filmmaking is revolutionary, considering her role in crafting some of the first non-linear movies to experience success in mainstream Hollywood. Working within a format that so heavily relies on the artists in the cutting room her influence was undoubtedly pivotal in realizing Tarantino’s vision, further acknowledged by the Oscar-nominations for both Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds.

Editors have ever been among the unsung heroes of filmmaking, usually content with massaging a story into existence behind the scenes. If directing is the analytical brain, the writing is the soul, acting the face, then editing would be the heart that sets the tempo and controls the rhythm of the movie. As a heart, Sally was strong and vibrant and her beat stopped far too soon.

Her unequivocal skill will be sorely missed in an industry starved for fearless craftsmen willing to bend, and sometimes outright break, the rules in conventional story telling.

Sally is survived by her two children, Lucas and Isabella, her husband Dean Pariscot and a legacy of finely cut films.

See Quentin pay homage to, and talk about his work with, Sally as included in the Death Proof DVD: