Garth Craven, Film Editor for Sam Peckinpah, Dies at 84

Garth Craven, the British-born sound and film editor and second-unit director whose credits included six Sam Peckinpah features, Turner and Hooch, My Best Friend’s Wedding and Legally Blonde, has died. He was 84.

A resident of Malibu, Craven died May 20 after he suffered a medical emergency while flying back to Los Angeles from a safari in Namibia, his daughter, Willow Kalatchi, told The Hollywood Reporter.

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Craven collaborated with the maverick director Peckinpah on Straw Dogs (1971), The Getaway (1972), Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973), Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974), The Killer Elite (1975) and Convoy (1978).

He worked with fellow editor Roger Spottiswoode on the first three of those films, and when Spottiswoode graduated to director, they partnered on the features Shoot to Kill (1988), Turner and Hooch (1989) and Air America (1990) and on two HBO telefilms: 1989’s Third Degree Burn and 1993’s And the Band Played On.

Craven also cut Gaby: A True Story (1987) and When a Man Loves a Woman (1994) for Luis Mandoki; Soapdish (1991), Restoration (1995), One Fine Day (1996) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999) for Michael Hoffman; and My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997) and Peter Pan (2003) for P.J. Hogan.

Born and raised in Yorkshire, England, Craven studied philosophy and English at the University of Leeds. He worked on Fellini’s Satyricon (1969) in the sound editing department during the first of his many trips to Italy and was nominated for a BAFTA for serving as a dubbing editor on Joseph Losey’s The Go-Between (1971).

Peckinpah brought Craven to Hollywood. He started out with the director as a sound editor on Straw Dogs, which was filmed in London, before cutting his first movie, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid.

“People used to talk about Sam as shooting a lot of film,” Craven said in a 1993 interview. “It was one of the things people liked to hear stories about, how much and how many dailies and how much do you have to watch at night … it was a lot.

“Dailies would go on for hours, there were a lot of takes, he printed a lot of film, but that was fine by me, it was all I knew. Obviously, the more raw material you have, you increase the odds of discovering the little nuggets you are looking for.”

He added that Peckinpah “enjoyed unnerving people, putting them in a position where they were ill at ease. The idea of ‘ease’ was anathema to him.” Yet Craven’s “calm and self-assured demeanor” set him apart as one of the rare individuals with whom the mercurial Peckinpah rarely clashed, his daughter noted.

Craven also edited I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1977), Carny (1980), Educating Rita (1983), Leap of Faith (1992), Return to Me (2000) and Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous (2005), his final credit.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include his wife, Jacqueline (they were married for more than 60 years), sons Daniel and Sam and grandchildren Sophia, Harper and Scarlett.

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