The Magic Hourglass Wins A Telly Award

The Magic Hourglass Wins A Telly Award

By Robert Rollins

I received notification on Saturday, April 21, 2012 that my featurette The Magic Hourglass received the prestigious Telly Award in recognition for the fine work done in the making of this film.  This is the second time I have been the recipient of the Telly Award.  The first was Knightfall in 2008.

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Robert Rollins Pictures is pleased to announce the production of Robert Rollins’ anthology feature film Dream Country.

Shooting the Dream Country interstitials brings to a close a long term goal Robert has been working on for the past several years.

Dream Country was born out of Robert’s love for Rod Serling’s classic television show The Twilight ZoneDream Country follows The Twilight Zone pattern by creating a framing device of using foot bridges that transport the viewer or journeyman from awake to asleep, from conscious to unconsciousness, from reality to fantasy, from past to present.

Cross a bridge to enter a dream….

The mysterious and enigmatic Elias introduces the featurettes while standing on a bridge much the same way Rod Serling had done in The Twilight Zone.

The “dream country” itself is not presented as a tangible plane, but rather a metaphor, for strange circumstances that befall the protagonists, thus allowing unrelated stories depicting science fiction, paranormal, time travel, dystopian, or simply disturbing events; each featurette features a surprising plot twist or ends with some sort of message.

Robert Rollins will direct and produce Dream Country in Fall 2012 and will collect his featurettes, Long After Midnight, Knightfall, Pumpkin Hollow, The Magic Hourglass and Fortune’s Fools following the filming at Yosemite National Park.

Welcome to a land that Elias calls Dream Country… A place where it is always turning late in the year.  A land where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist… where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger and midnights stay.  Remain as long as you like… or dare. 

 The trip home happens in the blink of an eye, though the journey may take considerably longer… in the Dream Country.

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Virginia and Truckee Goes Hollywood

Virginia and Truckee Goes Hollywood

By Robert Rollins

Long after most short line railroads would have been sleeping out eternity in the archives of local historical societies, the Virginia and Truckee Railroad was still whistling for the yard limits in Culver City and rolling in remembered splendor down tangents of Hollywood movies.

The very existence of the locomotive and cars is due to the desire of the major motion picture companies to acquire their own historic railroad trains.  Had it not been for this interest by the studios, it’s likely that a number of V&T’s engines and cars would not have survived the drives of World War II.

The exodus began in 1937, when Paramount Studios’ Property Department Chief, Oliver Stratton, was asked to find authentic 1870’s steam engine for use in filming High, Wide & Handsome.  The search led to the V&T at Carson City, where Stratton was told there were several suitable locomotives.  The studio sent Norman Lacey to purchase the “Inyo” (No. 22); a Baldwin 4-4-0 built in 1875.

Upon arrival in Carson, Lacey was told that the engine had been in the process of being overhauled when she was retired to the Great Stone Fort engine house in 1922.  Ed Peterson, the V&T’s venerable Master Mechanic assured Paramount they could have her put back together and in good shape within two weeks.  Following a break-in run to Reno, the studio purchased No. 22 for $1,250 and she left behind a Southern Pacific local on March 13th.  The “Inyo” was used in the filming that summer.  Paramount soon saw the need for a complete train, so they purchased the V&T’s Kimball built coaches (3 and 4) on June 14, 1937 and a month later obtained matching Kimball baggage car No. 1.  The studio paid the princely sum of $300 each for the 1872 cars.  The first use of the “new” train was in Wells Fargo, which was released later that same year.  This was only the beginning.

In May 1938, Cecil B. DeMille was making plans to film Union Pacific, so Paramount again set Norman Lacey to Carson City to buy equipment.  This time he took an option to lease or purchase some 18 pieces of rolling stock, plus harp switch-stands, spare wheel sets and other assorted railroad items.  The V&T also agreed to lease the 4-4-0s “Reno” (No. 11) and “Dayton” (No. 18) for use in the filming.  Consideration was given to filming the movie on the V&T itself.  DeMille hired Lucius Beebe as a technical consultant, but decided to most of the location work on a Union Pacific branch in Utah.

Paramount ended-up purchasing not only the rolling stock, but the “Dayton” as well.  They leased the V&T’s former Baldwin 2-4-0 “J.W. Bowker from the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society, after the group had obtained the engine from the Hobart Estate.  Thus the classic film used four V&T engines: “Inyo,” “Reno,” “J.W. Bowker,” and “Dayton.”

Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer was the next studio to acquire V&T equipment.  In March 1945 MGM (Lowes, Inc.) bought the “Reno” for $5,000.  It was planned to use the “Reno” for filming The Harvey Girls (1946), but the 4-4-0 did not arrive in time, so the studio rented Paramount’s “Inyo,” “Dayton” and several cars as they had done a number of times before.  Needing more rolling stock, MGM obtained the renamed Club Car “Julia Bulette,” V&T coach 19 and combine in 1947.  In the meantime, Paramount had returned in March 1947 to purchase the V&T’s wrecking crane (No. 50) for use in filming Whispering Smith, an Alan Ladd western with some excellent railroad scenes.  The V&T equipment was re-lettered “Nebraska & Pacific” for this film.

The next locomotive to leave the V&T was 4-6-0 No. 25, which was leased to RKO-Radio Pictures in April 1947.  RKO the purchased the engine in August.  She appeared in a number of “B” westerns filmed on the two thousand feet of track at the studio’s backlot ranch near Encino, California.  The 25 was also used on a Los Angeles to San Pedro excursion on January 30, 1955, honoring the completion of Union Pacific’s San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake in 1905.  The 25 saw little or no use after the filming of Wichita by Allied Artists in 1955.  She was retired to a siding in the Union Pacific’s Los Angeles Taylor Yard, along with much of Paramount’s equipment, to suffer from rot, rust and neglect.

Each studio kept spare smokestacks and headlights on hand to change the appearances of their locomotives.  A repainting and relettering resulted in many different variations for the former V&T equipment.  The studios frequently rented their trains to each other and it has been said by motion picture historian Larry Jensen, that Paramount’s equipment spent as much time on the MGM set as it did on its own backlot.

The V&T’s own rails were used in five movies, beginning with Courage of the West (1937).  Chicken Every Sunday (1946) was the only major production to have scenes filmed on the railroad itself, using 4-6-0 No. 26 and a short train.  The Minden depot was renamed “Tucson,” and the equipment “Southern Pacific Lines” in this 20th Century-Fox production.  Shortly after the official last run, No. 5 was used to film Train to Tombstone.  This “B” western saw the 2-8-0 with a very unrealistic “sunflower” stack, pulling RPO 23 and Combine 18.  The No. 27 was used un filming a Saturday morning “serial” named Roar of the Iron Horse in September 1950, just before the rails were removed.

The equipment of the V&T has appeared in over one hundred and twenty-five motion pictures, television programs and commercials.  When the major studios began to divest of their huge backlots, many of the railroad items were sold off to smaller studios, museums and private individuals.  Old Tucson Studios in Arizona purchased MGM’s “Reno” as well as a number of V&T cars from the Paramount collection.  An April 24, 1995 fire on the Old Tucson set destroyed several pieces of historic V&T equipment.  Lost were Kimball Baggage Car No. 1 and Coach 19, along with the depot, sound stages and western town.  The “Reno” was badly burned, loosing almost all of her wooden parts, but the engine could be rebuilt.  The former V&T Derrick (No. 50), “Blacksmith Car” (box car 1007) and another boxcar (1001) were undamaged, as was the former Central Pacific coach.  However, fate had different plans for “Reno,” in 1999 the engine was restored for the Barry Sonnenfeld production of Wild Wild West to its magnificent glory.

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Orange County Screenwriter Association Member – Robert Rollins

Orange County Screenwriter Association Member – Robert Rollins
By Mark Sevi
(Original Posted To On August 21, 2010)

Robert Rollins is a man on the move. Just ask him – he’s more than (enthusiastically) willing to tell about the dozens of projects he’s either done, has in production, or is in pre-production with.

A prolific writer and producer Robert takes his craft very seriously. He doesn’t just sit around and dream about being a filmmaker, he wakes up every day and thinks to himself – “How can I get ‘The Magic Hourglass’ and ‘Lanterns for the Dead’ done?” “Who can I talk to who will fund my productions?” “What can I do next that will get my company, Robert Rollins Pictures noticed?”

The key? “Flexibility and keeping yourself open to all possibilities,” he says as we’re having coffee at Kean Coffee in Newport Beach.

“Like when I was doing ‘Pumpkin Hollow’,” he says, “a film no one but I believed in. I didn’t have any idea where I was going to get a set designer who could make my film look good.” “Set designer?” he laughs as he remembers, “I couldn’t even afford to rent a pumpkin stand for the film so I had to build one out of old wood in the backyard myself.

Then the problem of what to fill it with came up and all I could think of was how much it was going to cost to put pumpkins inside it. But because I had bronchitis, we had to push the shoot to after Halloween and I managed to get all the pumpkins I needed because no one really wants pumpkins after Halloween. I ended up with three hundred pumpkins in my condo – that was a bit surreal.”

Robert has an infectious manner. It’s hard not to be enthusiastic along with him when he’s detailing his many adventures as an independent filmmaker. His love for what he does is evident – it informs his face and brightens his eyes, triggering that engaging smile of his. He is always intense but never overwhelming.

“My love for movies started when I was a kid. I’d let myself be absorbed into those worlds and disappear. It was magical. I know now that it’s a lot of hard work, but in many ways, it’s still magical and will always be.”

Who were your role models, your influences, I ask. “Rudi Fehr was not only my mentor, but was my dear friend.

I met Rudi in my freshman year at California Institute of the Arts – I was taking editing. Rudi and I became friends instantly even though he was many years older than me. He saw something in me that he had in himself – a unabashed love for movies and a willingness to work hard to get to my goals. He gave me more than I could ever give back to him. He’s passed on. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss him.”

For once, Robert’s million-watt smile fades as he remembers his friend and mentor. “Rudi listened. Always. It’s something that he taught me to do – listen more, talk less,” Robert says with more than a twinge of sadness. “I can never forget how much he meant to me. Never.”

Rudi Fehr was an immigrant to this country who joined Warner Brothers in 1936 as an editor. In 1952 he became a producer and was elected to the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. He also did many of Warner’s foreign language adaptations. In 1980 he joined Coppola’s Zoetrope Productions and in 1984 he cut “Prizzi’s Honor” for John Houston – a film that garnered him an Oscar nomination.

I asked Robert to give me 3-4 quick tips for aspiring filmmakers:

1. Ask for it – whatever “it” is. You can’t be afraid to ask for what you want in this business because no one is just going to come up and say “here, take this.”
2. People believe in something when they see it. A script, a short, storyboards – when you make it real for yourself, you make it real for investors. Do the initial work and the selling part will go much easier.
3. Stay flexible – nothing, and I mean nothing, goes according to plan. The only thing you can count on is that it won’t be as you imagined or planned it to be.
4. Adapt, don’t collapse. If you’re defeated by a crises, you can’t succeed. Be like a pinball and bounce. But don’t go down any holes. Keep moving and bouncing
5. Goes without saying – love what you’re doing. Of course, right? Your passion impassions others. Just like going to a baseball game and having the people around you jump up and cheer and you do too, people will catch your enthusiasm and stand with you. Maybe even cheer a little.

What are you working on now, I asked him as we clear away the pastry crumbs from the table.

“‘The Magic Hourglass’ and ‘Lanterns for the Dead’ are my latest projects. I am currently in the pre-production phase of the short film ‘The Magic Hourglass’ and we will be shooting in November.

The story of ‘Hourglass’ is a sort of prequel that follows the characters from ‘Lanterns of the Dead.’ Once completed the short will not only be shown in film festivals and posted to the Internet, but will be included as part of the business plan and investor packet we have put together to raise financing for ‘Lanterns for the Dead.’ And I cannot wait to stand on the set, to feel the magic that film brings, and say the word ‘action’ again.”

Robert is on the board of directors for the Orange County Screenwriters Association. He is also involved in theater and working on a play script and heading off soon to be lecturing at a film class at Fullerton College.

Since no one succeeds without the help and support of friends, Robert asked if he could acknowledge the following people who have helped and continue to help in his goal to rule the film world:

Robert and Deanna Rollins
Rudi Fehr (in memory)
Edward Fik
Phil Martin
Joseph Guimond
Craig Russom
Jeremy Borum
Steven Oda
Ken Hobbs
Barbara Horvath
Don Dalis
Christopher Dominguez
Mark Reid
Chris and Kathleen Eric

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“Fortune’s Fools” and Patron on the Arts

I would like invite you to take a moment of your time speak you about my new film “Fortune’s Fools” and how you can help fund this project by making a donation through the filmmaker sponsorship program Patron of the Arts.

Being big fans of the classic TV show “The Twilight Zone,” my co-writers Edward Fik, Joseph Guimond and I came up with the short film script “Fortune’s Fools” as a homage to Rod Sterling’s series.

Here’s a brief synopsis of “Fortune’s Fools”:

“Predicting the future is a tricky thing. There are very few people capable of achieving such a miracle. Those that do, find that the future only reluctantly gives up its secrets. And even then those secrets are fragmented at best. But what happens when a person who purports to have such powers, but in reality does not, manipulates and preys upon innocents in need of hope and guidance? How will the future react? What price will be paid? For Lydia Vadoma…she is about to find out.”

To facilitate the fundraising process, we are working through the filmmaker sponsorship organization, Patron of the Arts, which creates a person-to-person micro-donation program for independent filmmakers and artists.

The approval process is extensive and includes a complete review of detailed budget, schedule and project proposal. Now that we are qualified, we are able to solicit people we know to donate to the “Fortune’s Fools” production similarly to Kickstarter or Indie Go-Go. However, unlike Kickstarter and Indie Go-Go, patrons get something of real value in that all donations are tax deductable.

If this project sounds interesting to you, if the story or subject matter and if you want to see it made, please make a contribution by following going to

Click on “Sponsor A Project” where you will find our project.

On behalf of everyone associated with this production, I want to thank you for taking the time to consider donating to “Fortune’s Fools.”

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Fortune’s Fools

Robert Rollins Pictures

“Fortune’s Fools” and Patron of the Arts
By Robert Rollins

Good News! I was just informed that Robert Rollins Pictures’ next film project, “Fortune’s Fools'” application to Patron of the Arts has been approved. Patrons for the Arts is a non-profit film funding organization that allows people to donate to a filmmaker’s project to help make the project happen. Unlike Kickstarter or Indie Go-Go, all donations are tax deductible. Which is a great incentive for all. More information on how to be involved coming soon.

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Frank West Rollins

Robert Rollins Pictures 

Frank West Rollins

By Robert Rollins 

I wanted to take a moment and share with everyone the biography of my great, great grandfather Frank West Rollins. He’s someone that I’ve always admired his leadership and writing skills. 

Frank Rollins was one of four children born to U.S. Senator Edward H. Rollins and Ellen Elizabeth (West) Rollins. Rollins attended Concord public schools, tutored privately, and graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Class of 1881). For a year Rollins studied law at Harvard and in the law office of John Mugridge; he was admitted to the New Hampshire Bar in August 1882. Rollins married in 1882 and entered the banking firm established by his father in 1884. He was soon vice president and manager of the Boston branch office of E.H. Rollins & Sons, maintaining his home at Concord. 

Rollins enlisted in the National Guard (1880) and was Assistant Adjutant General with the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1890 to 1895. He was president of the New Hampshire State Senate (1895 to 1896) and in 1896 he wanted the New Hampshire Republican Party platform to endorse the gold standard, in opposition to the Democrats’ call for Free Silver. The state party did not do this, but Rollins was chosen to make the New England Republicans’ address to Republican presidential candidate William McKinley when they visited McKinley at his home in Canton, Ohio. In 1898 Rollins was the New Hampshire Republicans’ nominee to be governor and easily won the election.

As governor, Rollins saw abandoned New Hampshire farms and farm lands as major problems and he developed Old Home Week as a way to get former residents of the state to return for a visit with the hope they would buy these abandoned properties. In 1897 about 100 towns participated in Old Home Week and about 10,000 visitors returned. Rollins, working with longtime Secretary of Agriculture Bachelder, was president of the Old Home Week Association for many years. He also promoted good roads as an aid to tourism and served as president of the Good Roads League as well as the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. He wrote The Tourists’ Guide-Book to the State of New Hampshire, an annual first appearing in 1902, in addition to many short stories and novels. He serve as a trustee and treasurer of St. Paul’s School, Concord, and as a trustee of M.I.T. and many other clubs and organizations. He went on to write the fictional works, Break O’ Day Tales, The Lady of Violets, Recollection of the Late War With Canada: by One of the Survivors, The Ring in the Cliff, and The Twin Hussars, and nonfiction work include, Financial Courtship or a Plea For Conservative Investments, Old Home Week Addresses, Roads and Road-Building in New Hampshire, and What Can a Young Man Do? 

I hope you found my great, great grandfather Frank West Rollins interesting.  In the next couple of months we will be releasing his novels The Ring in the Cliff and The Lady of the Violets for purchase on the Robert Rollins Pictures website.  I hope that you will enjoy them as I have.

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On The Set – The Magic Hourglass

There are a few places that always invoke a magical feeling for me:  A college campus – filled with such endless possibilities and energy, a music studio where you gather to make individual pieces sound like God’s voice (no matter the genre,) and a movie set where all that is combined into one experience.

It’s fitting that OCSWA member Robert Rollins’ featurette should have the word “magic” in the title because it doesn’t matter if you’re shooting something on your iPhone or you’re on a James Cameron film the putting together of what was once only an vague idea is simply…well, magic.

Robert and his crew (I’d list them but there are too many) looked to me like any group of working professionals at O’Neill Regional Park where they had sets built for the production.  There was no way by just watching to say if the film was being shot for $1,000.00 or $100,000.00.  Well, okay, Robert didn’t have a huge Kraft services budget or any honey wagons (portable bathrooms) and the stars’ dressing rooms weren’t air-conditioned trailers but rather a tent pitched to the side of the campground set but the movement, the temperament, the work ethic was business-like and professionally done.

But, as with all sets, it goes beyond just the physical aspects of the shoot just like a film goes far beyond the script.  The people there loved what they were doing – it was easy to tell.  Sweating in the unseasonable heat, working with difficult terrain, trying to move quickly but not hastily to make their day, they all still had smiles and that glow of a group who were doing what they wanted to do – no loved what they were doing.

One P.A. (production assistant,) Crystal, a 20-yr-old with a brilliant smile  and zero experience couldn’t stop grinning all the time I saw her.  She was practically vibrating with excitement at being involved in a legitimate production even though her basic job as P.A. is to go get things and do things that others didn’t want to do.  If someone could have snapped a Kirlian photograph of her aura I’m sure it would have been sparkling like the people in the recent music video by Katy Perry “Firework.”

It was also gratifying to see how many OCSWA people had come to the production from many different directions.  This is exactly why OCSWA was founded – to provide networking opportunities that allow film people to do what they love to do – make films.  Since all film is a collaborative endeavor, networking is exactly what needs to be done to promote yourself and your skill set.

Crystal, the aforementioned P.A. was a “six degrees of separation” example since she came to the production through OCSWA board member Victor Phan who knows Robert Rollins through the Orange County Screenwriters Association since Robert also sits on the board of directors. Board member Eric Hensman was there as set photographer as were two documentarians who just finished a documentary on OCSWA and had interviewed Robert, myself, Victor and Eric as part of the documentary.  They were there to shoot the “making of” footage.

I highly recommend finding a movie set and working on the production.  Even though I was only there to observe and get in the way, I haven’t stopped smiling myself.  A movie set is truly a magical place where dreams are made real.  That feeling is palpable.

Exactly how many places can you say that about?

Congratulations to Robert for making this production happen for himself.  He worked hard and long to get it to this point and he will continue to work hard and long on it this weekend and in post-production.  Then marketing it.

Eric has promised some set photos so when I get those I’ll stick them in to this quick hit article.

Now I just have to somehow stop smiling before my jaw locks.

Submitted by marse

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Inauguration Party

Robert Rollins Pictures

The Robert Rollins Pictures Inauguration Party
By Robert Rollins

On Saturday night, June 5, 2010 we celebrated the launch of Robert Rollins Pictures with a fantastic party at Scott’s Seafood in Costa Mesa, California. We had a spectacular array of guests ranging from actors and crewmembers from our previous films to friends, business colleagues and investors for our upcoming feature films Dream Country and Lanterns for the Dead.

The party began in earnest with my producers Joe Guimond and Craig Russom greeting and introducing themselves to our guests at the door. The next stop for our guests was to join me on the red carpet and have a photo taken of themselves with Lanterns for the Dead teaser poster and myself. From there our guests had the opportunity to mix, eat hoarders, drink, get to know one another and enjoy the gentle music performed by a Grammy nominated husband and wife musical team.

At eight o’clock our presentation began with my former branch manager of UBS Financial Services, Don Dalis, introducing me to the audience. It was a special moment having Don there addressing the audience as he has been something of a mentor to me, grooming me, guiding me along and encouraging me to follow my dream of being a director, writer and producer.

Nervously taking the stage, I began to speak about the feature film that I wanted to direct and produce Lanterns for the Dead. I explained to the audience that Lanterns for the Dead was about two best friends, Arn Fredrickson and Ed Brooks, who encounter an ancient witch who magically harvests the souls of her victims to use as mystical batteries to remain forever young. To help illustrate how the movie will look when completed, we presented our promotional materials of the Lanterns for the Dead teaser poster and teaser trailer, production paintings and storyboard animatics to assist in visualizing an intangible product. (All of the Lanterns for the Dead promotion material can be seen on this website by following this link,

Following the presentation the film’s producers Joseph Guimond and Craig Russom joined me on stage to explain the investment opportunities for accredited investors investing in Robert Rollins Pictures’ Lanterns for the Dead, LLC.

While the presentation came to an end there was a personal highlights of the evening I would like to share. When I looked out to a nearby table I saw my mom, Deanna Rollins, watching me. There was a look of pride that I have never seen before. Everything that she wanted to say was said in that one moment and it amazed me how much was said with no words at all. It meant a great deal seeing and will stick with me for the rest of my life.

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Remembering Rudi Fehr

Robert Rollins Pictures

Remembering Rudi Fehr

By Robert Rollins

One of the greatest influences in my life was by a gentleman named Rudi Fehr.  He was not only my mentor, but was my dear friend.  I first met Rudi in my freshman year at California Institute of the Arts, while attending his editing course.  He must’ve seen something in that quiet, frightened and lonely boy I once was because he quickly took me under his wing and we became fast friends.  Rudi had great patience.  He would always listen attentively, never growing impatient with my constant chatter, never taking sides if I was having a disagreement with my parents and was always willing to give sagely advice when necessary.

Rudi is gone now, but there isn’t a day that passes for me without a thought of him, remembering him with a certain amount of magical awe.  I have often spoken about the love and respect I have for Rudi, but I realize the unfortunate fact that nobody really knows about this incredible man.  Therefore, to honor my dear friend I would like to share with my readers, the life of Rudi Fehr.

The life of Rudi Fehr is an incredibly rich story of an immigrant refugee.  He rebuilt his livelihood in the United States and has left a cinematic legacy to the classic Hollywood studio era. Rudi joined Warner Bros in 1936 as a film editor until attaining producer status in 1952.  In 1954, Rudi was elected to the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.  After retiring from Warner Bros. in 1976, he returned in 1977 to supervise foreign language adaptations of the studio’s films for France, Germany, Italy and Spain.  In 1980 Rudi joined Zoetrope Productions and worked with Frances Ford Coppola.  He returned to the editing bench in 1984 to gain an Oscar nomination for John Huston’s black comedy Prizzi’s Honor.

A native of Berlin, Germany, Rudi was born on July 6, 1911 and studied at the Lyceum Alpinum in Switzerland.  “I really intended to be a diplomat,” Rudi once told me of his early years in Berlin, but, because of the Hitler regime and his ethnic background, it was not possible. So he studied music and wanted to be a symphony conductor.

Rudi’s father was a banker on the board of one of the leading German film combines, Tobis-Klangfilm.  He arranged a job for his son to work as an apprentice film editor and within months Rudi was editing his first film, Der Schlemiel (1931).  Rudi worked for the producer Sam Spiegel in Germany, then in Austria and England after the Nazis came to power.

Upon his arrival to the United States late on night in 1936, Rudi had barely stepped off the ocean liner when he was detained by an immigrations official.  Apparently the immigrations official was concerned that Rudi was trying to smuggle the numerous musical instruments he had brought with him from Germany through customs.  Tried as he might to explain to the immigrations official he played all the instruments, the man wouldn’t believe him and insisted that Rudi would play every instrument present.  Rudi warmly recalled, “So I graciously obliged the official by taking up each instrument and serenading him while standing on a New York pier on a beautiful evening.”

He moved on to Warner Bros’ studios at Burbank, California, initially translating German films into English, then becoming an assistant to the editor Warren Low on such notable productions as The Life of Emile Zola (1937), starring Paul Muni, and Jezebel (1938), starring Bette Davis.  My Love Came Back (1940) with Olivia de Havilland was the first feature he edited himself.  While cutting Million Dollar Baby (1941), he met one of its supporting players, Maris Wrixon, who later became his wife.

Of his early work, Rudi said, “I was especially pleased with Watch on the Rhine (1943).  The director had never made a film before and I worked with him day and night to lay out all the shots.”  This was Herman Shumlin, who had directed the hugely successful stage original on Broadway and was fine with the actors (Paul Lukas and Bette Davis) but had no idea of film technique.

Working at Warner Bros, Rudi had little choice in the films he cut. “Each of the major studios produced about 60 pictures annually.  The picture that started shooting was assigned to the editor who had just finished a show,” he explained to our class.  Editors worked in varied genres and had little or no opportunity to impose a style of their own.  In fact, when asked whether there was such a thing as a style that would identify a particular editor, he responded: “In my humble opinion, absolutely not!”

Many of his films were routine, but A Stolen Life (1946) had the visual intricacy of Bette Davis playing the dual role of two sisters, initially on screen at the same time, and Humoresque (1946) presented John Garfield as an outstanding violinist, dubbed by Isaac Stern.  Garfield had to be carefully filmed and edited as he couldn’t play a note.  He kept his arms behind his back in close-ups while a member of the studio orchestra perched on each side of him, their hands coming into frame to do the fingering and bowing.  John Huston’s tense crime drama Key Largo (1948), with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, was another plum that landed in Rudi’s lap.

The production chief Jack L. Warner came to place great value on Rudi’s taste and judgment, and in 1952, without asking him first, promoted him to a producer.  But, after handling the mediocre 1953 remake of the musical The Desert Song, Rudi escaped back to the cutting rooms, where he had the great satisfaction of editing two Alfred Hitchcock thrillers in a row.  I Confess (1953) was shot in Quebec, but Rudi remained in Burbank to look at each day’s rushes as they were processed, phoning Hitchcock with his comments.  The footage went off to Canada for Hitchcock to view, then back to Rudi to start editing.

Despite the director’s reputation for “storyboarding” his films and “cutting in the camera”, Rudi recalled, “I never saw any set-ups he had thought of before.  I never saw anything on paper.  With I Confess, he shot a lot of film because he knew he couldn’t go back to Quebec to retake it.”  The second Hitchcock film, Dial M for Murder (1954), produced much less footage, being shot mostly on one set at Burbank, but Rudi again saw no evidence of preconceived editing by the director.  “He gave me a completely free hand.  He never told me how to do anything.  He looked at the film after I finished my first cut and gave me few changes – never more than five or six.  I got along with him just famously.  It was the most pleasant association I’ve ever had in my career.”  Dial M for Murder was shot in 3-D. Rudi had earlier cut the horror hit House of Wax (1953) in that short-lived process and found that it made no significant difference to his work other than to ensure that the 3-D highlights, like a ping-pong ball leaping out of the screen, were presented to maximum effect.

When Rudi did accept an executive position in 1955, it was as Warners’ head of post-production.  He viewed the rushes of all the films in production each day with Jack Warner and oversaw their editing.  He was also required to accompany the studio chief on the five-minute walk from the cutting room to his office, so that Warner could avoid being collared by people he didn’t want to see by pretending he was too busy discussing an editing crisis. “I never asked for special favors, even though I was alone with him two hours a day while we went over rushes,” Rudi related to me: “Once, my wife convinced me to ask for a two-week vacation; we wanted to go to Arrowhead.  Warner’s answer was, ‘Rudi, when I’m here, you are here.  When I take my vacation, you take your vacation.’  Finally, Warner did take his vacation. I went to his right-hand man and asked for my vacation.  He said, “Are you crazy?  Do you want me to carry the ball for you too?  I need you now more than ever.”  So he said no; and therefore from 1956 to 1963 I didn’t have one day off.”

Rudi became a skilled diplomat and intermediary between executives, producers and directors, trying to get all sides to agree to editing changes.  He specially supervised the foreign-language versions of the Jack Warner production of My Fair Lady (1964) in order to make them as good as the English version.  He remained at the studio 10 years after Jack Warner relinquished power.  He managed to get on with the next generation of innovative filmmakers.

After retiring from Warner Bros in 1976, he joined Francis Ford Coppola at Zoetrope, working on post-production of Apocalypse Now (1979) and as the supervising editor on One from the Heart (1982).  In 1984, when John Huston asked him to edit Prizzi’s Honor, Rudi exclaimed, “But the last time I edited was in 1954!” “Oh, it’ll come back to you,” responded Huston. Rudi went to work. “The toughest problem was to cut 28 minutes out of a two-and-a-half-hour cut.  I thought that Huston was going to do that, but I was told it was my responsibility.”  Working on the picture with his daughter Kaja, he cut it down to an effective 129 minutes.

Rudi’s crowning achievement was in 1983, when he was presented with the Grand Medal of Merit by the President of West Germany.  In 1990 he joined the California Institute of the Arts faculty, worked on foreign-language versions, and chaired the committee for the foreign film Academy Award, and in that year was honored by the Land of Berlin, which presented him with the Medal of Merit.  In March of 1993, Rudi received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Cinema Editors.  Rudi passed away on April 16, 1999.

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