Editor. Nationality: American. Born: New York, in 1895. Career: Vaudeville acrobat until war injury ended his career; 1920—film editor: first film, The Match Breaker; then worked for Samuel Goldwyn, 24 years; retired in 1966. Awards: Academy Award for The Pride of the Yankees, 1942, The Best Years of Our Lives, 1946, and The Apartment, 1960. Died: In California, 8 June 1987.
Films as Editor:
The Match Breaker (Fitzgerald); Foolish Wives (von Stroheim)
Lady of Quality (Henley)
The Turmoil (Henley)
California Straight Ahead (Pollard)
Uncle Tom's Cabin (Pollard) (co)
Love Me and the World Is Mine (Dupont) (co)
Man, Woman, and Wife (E. Laemmle); Melody Lane (Hill); Show Boat (Pollard) (co); Silks and Saddles (Hill); Tonight at Twelve (Pollard)
Holiday (E. Griffith); Sin Takes a Holiday (Stein); Swing High (Santley); Undertow (Pollard)
Beyond Victory (Robertson); Devotion (Milton); Rebound (E. Griffith)
The Animal Kingdom (E. Griffith); A Woman Commands (Stein)
Six comedy shorts
Counsellor-at-Law (Wyler); Emergency Call (Cahn)
Embarrassing Moments (E. Laemmle); I'll Tell the World (Sedgwick); Love Birds (Seiter); Wake Up and Dream (Neumann)
Diamond Jim (Sutherland); The Good Fairy (Wyler); His Night Out (Nigh); King Solomon of Broadway (Crosland)
Dodsworth (Wyler); These Three (Wyler)
Dead End (Wyler); Woman Chases Man (Blystone); You Only Live Once (F. Lang)
The Real Glory (Hathaway); Wuthering Heights (Wyler)
The Westerner (Wyler)
Ball of Fire (Hawks); The Little Foxes (Wyler); Meet John Doe (Capra)
The Pride of the Yankees (Wood); They Got Me Covered (Butler)
The North Star (Milestone)
Arsenic and Old Lace (Capra) (co); The Princess and the Pirate (Butler); Up in Arms (Nugent)
Wonder Man (Humberstone)
The Best Years of Our Lives (Wyler); The Kid from Brooklyn (McLeod)
Enchantment (Reis); A Song Is Born (Hawks)
My Foolish Heart (Robson); Roseanna McCoy (Reis)
Edge of Doom (Robson)
I Want You (Robson); A Millionaire for Christy (Marshall); Valentino (Allen)
Hans Christian Andersen (C. Vidor)
Return to Paradise (Robson)
Guys and Dolls (Mankiewicz)
The Sharkfighters (Hopper)
Witness for the Prosecution (Wilder)
Porgy and Bess (Preminger)
The Apartment (Wilder)
One, Two, Three (Wilder)
Irma La Douce (Wilder)
Kiss Me, Stupid (Wilder)
The Fortune Cookie (Wilder)
On MANDELL: articles—
Film Comment (New York), March-April 1977.
"Daniel Mandell, Won 3 Film Editing Oscars," in New York Times, 13 June 1987.
* * *
The greatest accomplishment of a good editor is, ironically, that the audience is totally unaware of his or her work. Unlike actors, art directors, or cinematographers, whose work is placed before the viewer on a platter, the editor must interpret, dissect, and anticipate the product to make the average filmgoer completely oblivious to his or her efforts on the picture.
This was perhaps more evident in the days before quick action and special effects were so lavish on the screen and is characteristic of the work of the veteran editor Daniel Mandell. Mandell, who flourished within the studio system of the 1930s and 1940s, had the ability to anticipate what would look good to an audience and cull that product out of the mass of scenes, shots, and directives given to him. According to interviews with Mandell, his early training in vaudeville made him very sensitive to timing and the ways in which audiences react.
His editing career began with assistant "cutter" jobs at Metro, then, during the 1920s and early 1930s, he went from studio to studio working on some noteworthy films, including Erich von Stroheim's Foolish Wives, until he settled in at the Samuel Goldwyn studios. There he worked until well into the 1950s and was head editor of a number of the high-budget Goldwyn productions.
His specialty was the serious film such as These Three, Dodsworth, and Wuthering Heights in which his sensitive editing helped to pace the strong stories. Mandell won an Oscar for his editing of The Pride of the Yankees, an adept combination of action, intimate drama, and montage which, though somewhat maudlin, nevertheless is touching and well paced. His second Oscar, again for Goldwyn, was for the magnificent work he did on The Best Years of Our Lives. Although the film was an almost actionless drama, the superb editing of the climactic sequence at the deserted airfield was an outstanding achievement. It still stands up well against the more modern, technologically advanced work of films like the Terminator series in which technique dominates artistry.
Perhaps Mandell's greatest asset was his subtlety. This was evident again in 1960 when he won his third award for Billy Wilder's The Apartment, a small, black-and-white drama which proved that, after a number of years of the Oscar going to lavish color productions like Ben-Hur, sensitivity could still count. It was, in fact, one of only two films (the other being Z), that was neither color nor large-budget spectacular to win the best editing Oscar in the last 45 years.
—Patricia King Hanson