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Anne V. Coates, the five-time Academy Award-nominated film editor who won an Oscar for her work on the 1962 classic Lawrence of Arabia and most recently cut Fifty Shades of Grey, has died. She was 92.
Veteran script supervisor Angela Allen said that Coates died Tuesday at the Motion Picture Country Home and Hospital in Woodland Hills, and BAFTA tweeted news of her death.
The famed British-born editor also received Oscar nominations for Peter Glenville’s Becket (1964), David Lynch’s The Elephant Man (1980), Wolfgang Petersen’s In the Line of Fire (1993) and Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight (1988). She then was given an honorary Academy Award at the 2016 Governors Awards.
Coates’ uncle was British film tycoon J. Arthur Rank, and her husband was Douglas Hickox, who directed such films as Brannigan (1975), starring John Wayne. Survivors include their daughter Emma E. Hickox, a film editor, and sons Anthony Hickox and James Hickox, both directors.
On Lawrence of Arabia, Coates and director David Lean worked with some 33 miles of footage to craft the nearly four-hour epic, which contains one of the most famous “match” cuts in the history of cinema — a sequence that transitions from a shot of Peter O’Toole as T.E. Lawrence blowing out a match to the desert sun rising from the horizon.
The cut — which is said to have inspired Steven Spielberg to become a filmmaker — came about “by accident,” Coates told The Hollywood Reporter‘s Carolyn Giardina in a 2015 interview.
“We were working on film, and so when we were running the sequence, we saw it cut together,” Coates recalled. “Nowadays using digital, you would have done a [dissolve] in the machine, and you never would have seen it cut together like it was. Almost at the same moment, David and I looked at each other and said, ‘That is a fabulous cut.’ He said, ‘It’s not quite perfect — take it away and make it perfect,’ and I literally took two frames off the outgoing shot, and that’s the way it is today.”
After Lean returned from shooting in the desert and in Spain, he and Coates spent a lot time in the cutting room. “We were working seven days a week, all hours of the day and night,” she said, “because arrangements were made for a big premiere with the queen, and you don’t alter the queen’s dates.”
Coates was born on Dec. 12, 1925, in Reigate, Surrey, England. She became enthralled with the movies when she saw William Wyler’s Wuthering Heights (1939), and Rank got her a job with his Religious Films outfit, where she did projection, sound and editing work on short films sent to British churches to run on weekends.
“When I tried to get into the industry, there were only certain jobs open to women. Things like hairdressing didn’t really interest me,” Coates told Giardina. “I might have been interested in photography, but women couldn’t do that in those days. I found the most interesting job a woman could do, other than acting, was editing. I didn’t know much about editing when I went into it, but I learned to love it.”
During a job interview, Coates lied about the depth of her experience and landed a position as an assistant film editor at London’s Pinewood Studios. She did some editing on the Michael Powell-Emeric Pressburger classic The Red Shoes (1948) and received her first editing credit on The Pickwick Papers (1952), the Charles Dickens’ adaptation directed by Noel Langley.
Her other credits include Young Cassidy (1965), Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965), Hotel Paradiso (1966), The Bofors Gun (1968) — a film about an anti-aircraft weapon, it was her personal favorite — The Public Eye (1972), Sidney Lumet’s Murder on the Orient Express (1974), The Eagle Has Landed (1976), What About Bob? (1991), Richard Attenborough’s Chaplin (1992), Congo (1995), Striptease (1996), Soderbergh’s Erin Brockovich (2000), Unfaithful (2002), The Golden Compass (2007) and Extraordinary Measures (2010).
Coates once noted that In the Line of Fire was among the first films to put an actor from another film in a new movie (Clint Eastwood from his Dirty Harry days was placed between President John F. Kennedy and his wife at Love Field in Dallas).
On Fifty Shades of Grey (2015), she shared editing credit with Lisa Gunning and Debra-Neil Fisher.
Coates, who moved to Los Angeles in 1986 while she was working on the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Raw Deal (1986), was awarded the O.B.E. (Officer of the British Empire) in 2003. A dozen years later, she received the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s award for career achievement.
Rhett Bartlett contributed to this report.