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Tom Rolf, the Academy Award-winning editor of The Right Stuff and dozens of other films, died July 14 at his home in France from complications following hip surgery. He was 82.
The respected editor of more than 40 films — including Martin Scorsese‘s Taxi Driver (1976), Michael Mann‘s Heat (1995) and Kurt Wimmer‘s Equilibrium (2002) — received the American Cinema Editors’ Career Achievement Award in 2003.
He won an ACE Eddie trophy for John Badham‘s WarGames (1983) and received additional ACE nominations for Philip Kaufman‘s The Right Stuff (1983) and Robert Redford‘s The Horse Whisperer (1998), as well as a BAFTA nom for Taxi Driver.
Rolf’s impressive credits also include The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (1973), The Last American Hero (1973), French Connection II (1975), Heaven’s Gate (1980), Nine 1/2 Weeks (1986) and The Pelican Brief (1993).
A native of Sweden, Rolf served two terms as president of ACE and was a governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
In a 2010 interview, he said Jacob’s Ladder (1990) was among the projects he liked working on the most. “I so admire [director] Adrian Lyne for trying to do it…. It was sold as a horror picture, which it was not. It was a psychological thriller. I think had it been marketed that way, it would have done much better.… I very proud of that one.”
In that interview, Rolf recalled working on Taxi Driver, saying, “The scene where Bobby De Niro turns into the camera and says, ‘You talking to me? You talking to me?,’ that scene never changed from the first day [they started to cut the scene]. I take a certain degree of pride in that.
“My job is to help the director realize his vision,” the editor added. “I think people hire me because they know that I’m going to put in a full day, I’m going to tell them the truth, and I’ll voice my opinion when I think it’s needed.”
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