Reginald Beck

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Reginald Beck
Born (1902-02-05)5 February 1902
St. Petersburg, Russia
Died 12 July 1992(1992-07-12) (aged 90)
Occupation film editor

Reginald Beck (5 February 1902 – 12 July 1992) was a British film editor with forty-nine credits from 1932 to 1985.[1][2] He is noted primarily for films done with Laurence Olivier in the 1940s and with Joseph Losey in the 1960s and 1970s.

He was the brother of Violet Helen Beck Cushing, wife of actor Peter Cushing.

Early life and career[edit]

Beck was born in Russia, but his family emigrated to Britain while Beck was a child. He began working in the film industry in 1927 when he joined Gainsborough Pictures before going on to work on "quota quickies" at Wembley Studios. He later worked with a number of directors including Carol Reed, David Lean, Laurence Olivier and Joseph Losey.[3]

Collaboration with Joseph Losey[edit]

Joseph Losey was an American film and theater director who emigrated to Britain in the 1950s after being blacklisted for work in the entertainment industry in the United States. Beck and Losey collaborated on sixteen films from The Gypsy and the Gentleman (1958) through Steaming (1985), which was both Beck's and Losey's last film.[4] Until about 1964, Losey actually worked primarily with Reginald Mills, who had edited the very first of Losey's British films in 1954. Mills edited The Servant (1963), which was the first of Losey's films with a screenplay written by Harold Pinter, a playwright who ultimately received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2005. After a public falling-out between Mills and Pinter,[5] Beck edited essentially all of Losey's subsequent films.

In his comprehensive obituary, Anthony Sloman singles out Accident (1967) as the pinnacle of their filmmaking, writing "There is a sustained exterior hold in Accident that is totally of the cutting room: it is breathtaking in its audacity, and became influential in its style." The film was the second collaboration between Losey and Harold Pinter. Roy Perkins and Martin Stollery single out the editing of The Go-Between (1971), the third and last film of the Losey-Pinter collaboration, writing that "sharply cut, initially cryptic alternations between time-past and time-present are deftly integrated into the narrative.".[3]

One of the last films that Beck edited with Losey was Don Giovanni (1979), which was a French-Italian production based on the opera by Mozart. Nicholas Wapshott wrote recently that "One near perfect amalgamation of opera and the screen is Joseph Losey's Don Giovanni."[6] For this film, Beck received the César Award for Best Editing, which is given mostly to highly regarded French productions; it was the only such distinction in Beck's long career.

Sloman concludes of Beck and Losey's collaboration, "Their professional and personal relationship was regarded as one of the great screen partnerships".[1]

Collaboration with Laurence Olivier[edit]

Earlier in his career, Beck worked on two films directed by Laurence Olivier, Henry V (1944) and Hamlet (1948). Both are adaptations of plays by William Shakespeare. Olivier, who is known mostly as a distinguished stage and screen actor, played the title roles in addition to directing the films. They were the first films he had directed, and Beck was Olivier's advisor during filming in addition to his subsequent editing. Sloman wrote of these two "masterpieces' that "Beck's contribution to both Henry V and Hamlet is so immense, so considerable, that film historians today tend to gloss over it, not fully understanding the role of the editor in addition to physically cutting the film." Sloman concludes his obituary of Beck, "above all, it is for his immense contributions to Henry V and Hamlet that the British film industry is forever in his debt."[1]

Selected filmography[edit]

Beck was credited as the editor for these films except as noted; the credits are based on the listing at the Internet Movie Database except as indicated by an additional citation.[2] The director for each film is indicated in parentheses.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Sloman, Tony (29 July 1992). "Obituary: Reginald Beck". The Independent. Retrieved 2015-07-04. 
  2. ^ a b Reginald Beck at the Internet Movie Database
  3. ^ a b "Beck, Reginald (1902-1992)".  From Perkins, Roy; Stollery, Martin (2004). British Film Editors: The Heart of the Movie. British Film Institute. ISBN 9781844570072. OCLC 55524283. 
  4. ^ "Earliest Feature Films With Reginald Beck And Joseph Losey". Internet Movie Database. 
  5. ^ Perkins, Roy; Stollery, Martin (2004). "Reginald Mills". British Film Editors: The Heart of the Movie. British Film Institute. 
  6. ^ Wapshott, Nicholas (15 January 2007). "A Screen 'Don Giovanni' With a Hint of Marx". New York Sun. 
  7. ^ "Journey Together (1945)". BFI Film Forever. British Film Institute. 
  8. ^ Houston, Penelope. "The Long Dark Hall". In Reid, John. These Movies Won No Hollywood Awards. LuLu Press. pp. 100–1. Retrieved 15 April 2015. 
  9. ^ Hartl, John. "Top 10 car chase movies". Retrieved 2010-11-07. Bullitt (1968). Philip D’Antoni, who went on to produce The French Connection, warmed up for it with this Steve McQueen crime drama, set in San Francisco, where the steep hills seem to yearn for cars to go sailing over them. The director, Peter Yates, makes the most of the locations, especially during a gravity-defying chase sequence that earned an Oscar for its editor, Frank P. Keller. 
  10. ^ Some sources do not credit Beck as an editor, but the credits submitted in 1979 to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for Academy Award consideration does include him as an editor. The editing credits do not include Franz Walsch, a pseudonym for Fassbinder, who is often credited as an editor; they do include Fassbinder himself. See "Index to Motion Picture Credits: Despair". Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  11. ^ Le Cain, Maximilian (December 2003). "Dreams of Fassbinder: An Interview with Juliane Lorenz". Senses of Cinema (29). But I learned editing that night… We really created the film anew in one night because Rainer had an English editor, Reginald Beck, who started the editing but they didn’t get along. I took it over and we created a new story.