Marcia Lucas

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Marcia Lucas
Born
Marcia Lou Griffin

(1945-10-04) October 4, 1945 (age 75)
Other namesMarcia Lucas Rodrigues
OccupationFilm editor
Years active1968–1983; 1996–1998
Known forStar Wars
Spouse(s)
(m. 1969; div. 1983)

Tom Rodrigues
(m. 1983; div. 1993)
Children2, including Amanda Lucas

Marcia Lou Lucas (née Griffin; born October 4, 1945)[1] is an American film editor who was most well known for her work on Martin Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1973), Taxi Driver (1976), and New York, New York (1977) and her husband George Lucas' THX-1138 (1971), American Graffiti (1973), and the Star Wars Trilogy (1977–1983).

She won the Academy Award for Best Film Editing in 1977 for Star Wars (1977), which was written and directed by George Lucas.[2][3] She was nominated for an Academy Award for her film editing on American Graffiti and for a BAFTA Award for best editing on Taxi Driver. After a career gap while raising her family, Lucas produced two films in the 1990s.

Early life[edit]

Lucas was born in Modesto, California. Her father was an Air Force officer stationed in Stockton, California, during World War II. Her parents divorced when she was two.[4] Her mother, Mae Griffin, relocated the family to live with her parents. When Marcia's grandfather died, her mother later moved to an apartment in North Hollywood, California, where she worked as a clerk at an insurance agency. When she was a teenager, her father reentered her life, but he had remarried and was stationed in Florida. Marcia lived with her stepfamily for two years and moved back to Hollywood. She returned to North Hollywood to finish high school, and enrolled in chemistry courses at Los Angeles City College while working in a mortgage banking firm.[5][6]

Career[edit]

Early work[edit]

In 1964, Marcia's then-boyfriend worked for a Hollywood museum and wanted to hire her as a librarian to catalog all the donated movie memorabilia; she had to apply at the California State Employment office. Instead, she was hired by Sandler Films who was searching for an apprentice film librarian with no experience. Marcia was eventually promoted up to being an assistant editor by the time she was twenty. Knowing her apprenticeship would only last eight years, she sought to become a commercial film editor. To improve her skills, she edited promotional films and trailers.[7]

In 1967, Verna Fields, one of the few respected female film editors in the industry at that time, asked Sandler Films to send her an assistant editor to help on a government-funded documentary titled Journey to the Pacific (1968) for the United States Information Agency. Fields also searched for students attending the University of Southern California to hire as assistant editors; one of whom was George Lucas.[2] The following spring, the newly engaged Marcia moved in with Lucas at his hilltop apartment in Portola Valley, California,[8] and returned to editing commercials as George Lucas accompanied Francis Ford Coppola to scout filming locations for The Rain People (1968) at Long Island, New York.[9] When principal photography begun on The Rain People, Lucas simultaneously begun shooting a behind-the-scenes documentary short titled Filmmaker (1968).

Feature film editing[edit]

Back in California, Marcia had accepted an offer to work on Medium Cool (1969) when George had recommended her as an assistant editor for Barry Malkin on The Rain People. Fortunately, the shooting schedule for Medium Cool was delayed, which allowed for her to work on both films.[10] Following this assignment, she and George returned to their Portola Drive residence to edit Filmmaker.[11] Shortly after, Coppola had established a multi-picture deal with his production company American Zoetrope and Warner Bros. Their first project was THX 1138 (1971) for which Marcia served as an assistant editor. Reflecting on the film's commercial failure, Marcia stated "I never cared for THX because it left me cold. When the studio didn't like the film, I wasn't surprised. But George just said to me I was stupid and knew nothing. Because I was just a Valley Girl. He was the intellectual."[12]

When principal photography had wrapped on American Graffiti (1973), George had wanted Marcia to edit the film, but Universal Pictures executive Ned Tanen insisted on hiring Verna Fields, who had just finished editing Steven Spielberg's The Sugarland Express (1974). However, Fields worked on the rough cut of the film and then left to resume work on What's Up, Doc? (1972).[13] For the next six months, Marcia edited American Graffiti alongside her husband and sound editor Walter Murch to its contractual runtime of 110 minutes.[2][14] In 1974, Marcia Lucas and Fields were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Film Editing for their work on American Graffiti.

After American Graffiti was released, Martin Scorsese asked Marcia to edit Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), his first studio film. Sandra Weintraub recalled "We knew her, and we liked her, and she was in the union. It was good for her to get away from George and his house. Here she was, a wonderful editor working on her husband's films. I don't think she got taken seriously."[15] As Marcia was editing the film in Los Angeles, George joined her and sequestered himself in a hotel room as he wrote the first draft for Star Wars (1977).[16] In his fourth draft of Star Wars, George originally had written for Obi-Wan Kenobi to survive his lightsaber duel with Darth Vader by retreating through a blast door that would slam shut behind him. However, Marcia suggested to her husband that he should kill off Kenobi and have him act as a spiritual guide to Luke.[17]

Before Star Wars entered post-production, George did not consider that Marcia would work on it as she expected to give birth after editing Taxi Driver (1976), but the pregnancy was unsuccessful. Instead, George hired British union editor John Jympson to cut the film while they were in England. Horrified by the first rough cut, George fired Jympson and replaced him with Marcia.[18] She was tasked to edit the Battle of Yavin sequence, in which she drastically diverted from the originally scripted shot sequence.[19] George estimated that "it took her eight weeks to cut that battle. It was extremely complex, and we had 40,000 feet of dialogue footage of pilots saying this and that. And she had to cull through all that, and put in all the fighting as well."[17] While editing the sequence, she warned George: "If the audience doesn't cheer when Han Solo comes in at the last second in the Millennium Falcon to help Luke when he's being chased by Darth Vader, the picture doesn't work."[2]

As Marcia edited the Death Star assault, Lucas brought in editor Richard Chew to restructure the rough cut. As the workload grew too burdensome, Lucas hired Paul Hirsch as the film's third editor.[20][21] Shortly after Christmas 1976, Marcia left Star Wars to work on Scorsese's musical drama New York, New York (1977) because Irving Lerner had died before he finished editing the film.[18][22] At the 50th Academy Awards, Lucas won the 1977 Academy Award for Best Film Editing with Chew and Hirsch.[23]

Following the success of Star Wars, Marcia decided to place her career on hold in order to raise a family.[24] In the meantime, she supervised the completion of the interior design and decoration of Skywalker Ranch. After viewing the rough cut of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), she stated that there was no emotional closure because Marion did not appear at the ending. As a result, Spielberg shot the final scene with her and Indiana Jones.[25] In 1982, Marcia came on board Return of the Jedi as the film's third editor alongside Duwayne Dunham and Sean Barton.[26] When asked of her contributions to the film, George described the scenes in which she helped edit as the emotional "dying and crying" scenes.[27] Marcia's last film credit was as producer of 1996's No Easy Way.

Personal life and legacy[edit]

In 1967, Marcia met George Lucas while he was attending film school at the University of Southern California, when they both served as apprentice editors on Journey to the Pacific under Verna Fields. On February 22, 1969, they were married.[28] They adopted one daughter, Amanda Lucas, who was born in 1981. Due to her husband's commitments to the Star Wars films and Raiders of the Lost Ark, Marcia grew impatient in her marriage as she blamed his workaholism and emotional blockage.[29] In mid-1982, she asked for a divorce, but in order to maintain a positive public image, George asked her to wait until after the release of Return of the Jedi to go public with the decision.[30] On June 13, 1983, George formally announced at Skywalker Ranch that he and Marcia were divorcing; the couple would share custody of their daughter while Marcia would relocate to Los Angeles.[31][32] When the divorce was finalized, she reportedly received $50 million from the settlement.[29]

Marcia later married Tom Rodrigues, a stained glass artist who worked as a production manager at Skywalker Ranch from 1980 to 1983, whom she met before divorcing George.[29] In 1985, the couple had a daughter, Amy Rodrigues.[33] Lucas and Rodrigues divorced in 1993.[2]

In an interview, Mark Hamill cited Marcia for her contributions to Star Wars.[34] In Mythmaker: The Life and Work of George Lucas, filmmaker John Milius described Marcia's contributions to Milius's own films and those of George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Martin Scorsese, calling her one of the best editors he knew.[2]: 38–39 In 2021, SFGate published an article calling Marcia the "secret weapon of 'Star Wars'",[35] further stating that:

Considering the reaction to the "Star Wars" prequels and George's distance from the franchise now, it's not a stretch to say that Marcia was actually the glue that kept the galaxy far, far away together. Or, at the very least, helped repair it when it needed to be fixed.

Filmography[edit]

Year Film Editor Director Notes
1968 Filmmaker Uncredited George Lucas documentary short film
The New Cinema Assist. Gary Young television documentary film
1969 The Rain People Assist. Francis Ford Coppola theatrical films
Medium Cool Assist. Haskell Wexler
1971 THX 1138 Assist. George Lucas
1972 The Candidate Assist. Michael Ritchie
1973 American Graffiti Yes George Lucas
1974 Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore Yes Martin Scorsese
1976 Taxi Driver Supervising Martin Scorsese
1977 New York, New York Supervising Martin Scorsese
Star Wars Yes George Lucas
1979 More American Graffiti Uncredited Bill L. Norton
1980 The Empire Strikes Back Uncredited Irvin Kershner
1983 Return of the Jedi Yes Richard Marquand

Work as a Producer

  • No Easy Way (1996) - executive producer
  • A Good Son (1998) - producer; short film

Special thanks credit for

  • More American Graffiti (1979)
  • The Making of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' (1981, television documentary film)
  • Twice Upon a Time (1983, ''extra special thanks'')
  • A Good Son (1998, short; ''made possible by a grant from'')

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Title Results Ref.
1973 Academy Awards Best Film Editing American Graffiti Nominated [36]
1976 British Academy Film Award Best Editing Taxi Driver Nominated
1977 Academy Award Best Film Editing Star Wars Won [23]
BAFTA Award Best Editing Nominated
Saturn Award Best Editing Won

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Marcia Lou Griffin - California Birth Index". FamilySearch. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Kaminski, Michael (January 6, 2010). "In Tribute to Marcia Griffin". The Secret History of Star Wars. Archived from the original on January 31, 2010. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  3. ^ Chung, Frank (December 17, 2015). "The 'secret weapon' behind Star Wars". News.com.au. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  4. ^ Biskind 1998, p. 237.
  5. ^ Pollock 1983, pp. 63–4.
  6. ^ Jones 2016, pp. 70–1.
  7. ^ Pollock 1983, p. 64.
  8. ^ Jones 2016, p. 79.
  9. ^ Jones 2016, p. 94.
  10. ^ Jones 2016, p. 96.
  11. ^ Pollock 1983, p. 77.
  12. ^ Pollock 1983, p. 96.
  13. ^ Baxter, John (1999). Mythmaker: The Life and Work of George Lucas. New York City: Spike Books. pp. 132–35. ISBN 0-380-97833-4.
  14. ^ Jones 2016, p. 155.
  15. ^ Biskind 1998, p. 253.
  16. ^ Pollock 1983, p. 138.
  17. ^ a b Scanlon, Paul (August 25, 1977). "George Lucas: The Wizard of 'Star Wars'". Rolling Stone (Interview). Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  18. ^ a b Biskind 1998, p. 330.
  19. ^ Jones 2016, p. 234.
  20. ^ Jones 2016, pp. 233–4.
  21. ^ Biskind 1998, p. 174.
  22. ^ Jones 2016, p. 236.
  23. ^ a b Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (April 3, 1978). Star Wars Wins Film Editing: 1978 Oscars. Retrieved December 28, 2015 – via YouTube.
  24. ^ "The Star Wars Phenonemeon". People. July 18, 1977. Retrieved December 5, 2018.
  25. ^ Jones 2016, p. 297.
  26. ^ Jones 2016, pp. 312–4.
  27. ^ Clarke, Gerald (May 23, 1983). "I've Got to Get My Life Back Again". Time. Vol. 121 no. 21. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  28. ^ Pollock 1983, p. 83.
  29. ^ a b c Biskind 1998, pp. 422–3.
  30. ^ Jones 2016, p. 314.
  31. ^ Jones 2016, p. 320.
  32. ^ Scanlon, Paul (July 21, 1983). "George Lucas Wants to Play Guitar as 'Star Wars' Takes a Vacation". Rolling Stone (Interview). Retrieved December 3, 2018.
  33. ^ Sparks, Steve (January 24, 2011). "Tom Rodrigues". Lives and Times of Anderson Valley Folks. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  34. ^ Chaw, Walter (March 19, 2013). "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Toshi's Station: FFC Interviews Mark Hamill". Film Freak Central. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
  35. ^ Wakeman, Gregory (March 2, 2021). "The secret weapon of 'Star Wars' was George Lucas's ex-wife Marcia". SFGate. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  36. ^ "1974 Oscars". Oscars.org. Retrieved March 24, 2021.

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