The Fog of War Moviemaking
Peter Tonguette’s My Most Memorable Film column, “Walter Murch on Apocalypse Now” (CineMontage Q1 2016), was a great peek into the editing of a legendary movie. But I noticed that part of the story was missing…
Editors Evan Lottman, ACE (who passed away in 2001), and Barry Malkin, ACE, were in the Philippines with director Francis Ford Coppola and got the film all the way to the first assembly. From what I understand, their assembly is the legendary six-hour cut that went missing at some point. I wonder if that cut served as a starting point — instead of the 1.25 million feet of work print arriving uncut, as the article implies — or if it was already gone when the new editing team arrived to do its magic.
Evan mentored me when I moved to New York City in 1996, and often entertained those around him with stories of his time editing Apocalypse Now in the Philippines. He told of actors (like the Playboy Bunnies in the movie) enlisted to sync dailies in the Quonset hut that served as the edit room. He also talked about befriending legendary photographer Mary Ellen Mark when she arrived after curfew and went straight to the edit hut, seeing the lights on. The editing crew was still awake and hard at work, of course.
In an unusual twist for an editor, Evan was cast as background for that big stage scene — those Bunnies again — and can be seen smiling in the front row as the action goes down (see accompanying photo).
Lottman and Coppola parted ways when the film got back to San Francisco, and the new team took over, ultimately crafting the incredible film we all know.
Evan reconnected with Mark in 1996, giving her a whimsical memory of their time on the film: a candid photo of a monkey grabbing her nose. In that spirit, I’d love to restore the memory of his work on the movie, and provide readers with a picture of him on the front row of a wild performance on the set of Apocalypse Now.
Brooklyn, New York
Reading the Op/Edit column “Get Retested!” about test screenings in the last issue (CineMontage Q1 2016) caused me to chuckle a little bit, but not because of the way it was written.
It just brought back a memory of many years ago, while I was working as a recordist on Dub Stage C at the Goldwyn Studios. We were working on a feature that was not particularly good, but everyone on the movie was really nice to work with. It was a movie for TriStar Studios, the logo of which had a large white horse with wings that would fly onto the screen.
Well, the movie went out for a test screening over the weekend. On the following Monday, the re-recording mixer shared the results from one audience member. The questions were simple and this person really came through for the filmmaker.
The first question was, “What did you like about the movie?” His answer was “Everything before the horse.” The second question was, “What didn’t you like about the movie?” His answer: “Everything after the horse.”
It is the best line I have ever heard, and to this day I laugh when I think about it…
Sherman Oaks, California