Bernard Gribble

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Interview Date(s): 
14 Oct 1995
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A Summary of the BERNARD GRIBBLE Interview. File 369.
He came from a farming family, his father having rented a farm at Sheffield Park. Born in Newhaven, Sussex in 1927, Bernie was not interested in farming but became interested in films at school through reading film magazines. He was educated at Lewes Grammar School but was unhappy there. A visitor to the farmhouse, namely, John Monk, realising that Bernie was interested in films, invited him to visit Pinewood - late 1942/43. (John Monk was previously known as John Goldman when he edited "MAN of ARAN" for Michael Balcon in 1934.) On the visit to Pinewood he was taken to the set of "CLOSE QUARTERS" and invited to look through a camera viewfinder by the director. Jack Lee. He suddenly wanted to become part of it! John Monk was second in charge at Pinewood during this period and still editing, and was therefore able to demonstrate the whole film-making process. , Shortly after his visit to Pinewood, he left school, aged 16. His father tried to install him in a farm, but Bernie was now madly keen to get into films and would not take up the offer. One day, in desperation, he cycled over to John Monk's home to remind him of a previous promise to "do something for him". He learned that he was due to statt at Pinewood the following morning, the letter apparently having gone astray! His appointment was aS Assistant Librarian at two pounds per week, plus War Bonus. He describes the job and the film people he met. He had no knowledge of films whatsoever, not ever having seen any, so he spent his lunch hours drawing them out of the vault and running them on a moviola. It was an ekciting time to be in the business and he lists many of the great names who were working at Pinewood. He also visited West End cinemas at the weekends to catch up on his film viewing, sometimes managing ten features in a dSy! Crew details were carefully logged. At 17 he was anxious to move into editing and through Sidney Cole he obtained a job at Ealing in the negative department, mostly by . bluffing his way in, not having had any previous experience! He talks about life during the■VI and V2 raids. He made rapid progress through third assistant to first by the age of 20 and lists the films. He tells how he became a fully-fledged editor under Michael Truman's tuition. Reminisces about the lack of good screen dialogue writing in today's features. Bernie's first film as editor was "ANOTHER SHORE", 1948, shot in the Irish Republic. He was the youngest editor.
Side 2. Michael Balcon's way of working is discussed. After "ANOTHER SHORE" he did "TRAIN Of EVENTS", 1949 - a portmanteau of stories - working with three directors. (Sidney Cole was one of the directors.) The next one was "BITTER SPRINGS", 1950, d. Ralph Smart. There were problems with Tommy Trinder - Bernie had to take out all the unscripted cracks! Next was "THE MAGNET", 1950. Hours of work and Union activity is talked about in general terms. He is currently working on "KIDNAPPED" fdr TV and talks about the problems, including recasting to replace Christopher Reeve who fell
Page 2 of 4 off his horse. Lightworks equipment is used and preferred. After "THE MAGNET" he did "THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT".1951. Very long hours were worked, and some interesting facts emerge about Alexander Mackendrick. who directed it. Other editors and their methods are discussed along with Mackendrick's career. After "WHITE SUIT", Bernie was loaned out to Group 3 who were going to make films very cheaply for £30,000 or £40,000 apiece; Some interesting facts revealed. "LAXDALE HALL", 1952, was Bernie's next one; Production details; It was a film made in the cutting room. After that he returned to^Ealing to do "MEET MR. LUCIFER", 1953. Badly directed by Anthony Pelissier; Production details. Side 3. Continues with "MR LUCIFER" and a change of editors, but Bernie's work was vindicated in the end. However, he decided to leave and returned to Group 3 at Beaconsfield to do "THE END OF THE ROAD", 1954, d. Wolf Rilla. Comparisons between Friend and Crighton discussed. Directors who started as editors first, were difficult to deal with. The next one for Group 3 was "MAKE ME AN OFFER",1954,d, Cyril Frankel; Production details. Bernie talks about the difficult professional relationships on the production and yet it was one of his favourite films. Eastmancolor stock was used and the new process produced problems. As a freelance editor by now, he was offered "JOHN AND JULIE", 1955, d, William Fairchild; Production details. This was the end of the Group 3 period. Referring to "JOHN AND JULIE", he says that when he finally put it together, his spine tingled with sheer satisfaction. You knew when you'd gpts it right! "There's something about films when they really work". His next film was "THE EXTRA DAY", 1956, again with Fairchild with whom he worked for six weeks before the start, helping to plan it. Fairchild was a writer with no film experience. The next one was "THE GREEN MAN", 1956, d, Robert Day. Production details; The supervising director was Basil Dearden. He talks about "THE WHITE DOG", 1982. A film he did with Samuel Fuller; an interesting account of how the film was cut down from 3 hours 40 minutes. .. After the "GREEN MAN" and before he went to Hollywood in 1974, he lists and discusses the many and varied .productions he worked on including British Transport Films, Commercials, plus 92 Features, all told.
Side 4. Continues with the "DAILY HERALD" commercials. Most- of his Hollywood films were made for TV. .He mentions the worst cut he's ever seen, it was one particular shot in "SCHINDLER'S LIST", in an otherwise brilliantly edited film. The editor's craft in today's environment is discussed at length. "THE WHITE HUNTER", a TV series is mentioned - a new speedy technique required to make the Tx dates.
Page 3 of 4 He began to unlearn things dating from the Sidney Cole/Truman days by watching the work of the two editors he was supervising. He discusses non-linear electronic editing techniques which are totally different and much preferred; they are much more creative. Many of the "old guard" are frightened by these new techniques and will inevitably be elbowed out> he suggests. There are lots of courses on how to use the equipment, but none on how to edit. It is becoming a serious problem. . He meets Michael Winner and is offered'a film, and talks about his methods - "WEST ELEVEN", 1963. He^did ten filmii, in all, for Winner. It was "DEATH WISH", which was made>in New York that • introduced Bernie to the U.S., and he has liked working there ever since. He was fascinated by New York and the energy of the Film Unit. After doing a boring film on his return to the U.K., Winner asked him to edit "WON TON TON", 1976, in Hdllywood where he encountered tremendous energy and excitement once again. He then did another one in New York and felt revitalised about the film industry. "CAN HEIRONYMUS MARKIN EVER FORGET MERCY HUMPPE AND FIND TRUE HAPPINESS", 1969, d. Anthony Newley, was a film he remembers well. He was a great admirer of Newley's work. 'Production details. The film was a sex musical and Malta was a rather unsuitable location!!
Side 5. He talks about the pleasurable to make, but mostly boring pictures he edited in the period before he went to Hollywood. He decided to remain in Hollywood after he'd been asked to take over the work of an editor who was on sick leave by Ivan Passer. His first complete picture for Passer was "SILVER BEARS", 1977, which fitted in with the end of Winner's "THE SENTINEL", 1976, - not liked by Universal. It was the last picture he did for Winner with whom he had an interesting career, although "most people hated his guts". He gives an account of Winner's eccentricities concerned with editing. He sometimes edited under the name of Arnold Crust. Bernie says he's capable of editing - after a fashion! When working for Winner in Hollywood it had to be carried out surreptitiously at first because of a union problem. Bernie is now a union member and a citizen of the USA. After "SILVER BEARS" he returned to New York for a couple of years doing industrials (documentaries): Details. When the work dried up he went to Hollywood to work on TV features. After a spell at that he was offered "MOTEL HELL", 1980, by Kevin Connor which was great fun. It has since become a cult movie. "WINDS OF WAR" was another TV film series he worked on. He also describes shooting with video cameras on a series called "NEXT STEP BEYOND" when he first arrived in Hollywood. The material was afterwards transferred to 16mm; electronic editing was too primitive in those days. A great deal of time was wasted on picture matching because it was shot on location around Hollywood. It was'nt timecoded properly either! The whole series was a mess. After "WINDS OF WAR" he returned to the U.K. to do "TOP SECRET", 1984. He discusses the problems of 16mm editing. He also talks about music tracks and film composers and provides a commentary on his
Page 4 of 4
current f ilm, "KIDNAPPED'1 Side 5. This is mostly retrospective, like "lets go and see a bad movie and learn how to do it right". There are a lot of interesting stories that have probably never seen the light of day before. He maintains that now he's come across non-linear editing, he'd like to work on^for another fifty years because its so exciting. It's opened a completely new door. END.
Comment:- For those of us interested in the craft of editing, side 4 contains the most fascinating part of the interview.
BERNIE GRIBBLE was interviewed by JOHN LEGARD. DAVID MATHER ROBSON recorded it and wrote the summary.
I make the usual disclaimer about the correct spelling of some names which need to be verified.


Bernard Gribble (15 May 1927 – 15 September 2004) was a British film editor who, between 1948 and 2003, worked on nearly a hundred theatrical and made-for-TV films. They included:

  • Another Shore (1948) - Gribble's first credit as editor.
  • The Man in the White Suit (1951)
  • Clue of the Twisted Candle (1960)
  • Marriage of Convenience (1960)
  • Man at the Carlton Tower (1961)
  • The Jokers (1967)
  • The Games (1970)
  • Death Wish (1974)
  • Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? (1969)
  • Top Secret! (1984)
  • Blind Obsession (2001) - Gribble's last feature film credit.

Gribble was nominated for ACE Eddie Awards for the editing of two episodes of the television miniseries Ellis Island (1984), and he had been nominated for an Emmy for the television miniseries The Winds of War (1983). A founding member of the Guild of British Film and Television Editors, Gribble had been elected to membership in the American Cinema Editors after he moved to Hollywood to work.