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Hambling, Gerry (1926-)


Main image of Hambling, Gerry (1926-)

The opinion voiced by colleague Tony Lawson that Gerry Hambling is "probably the best English editor" of his generation is shared by a number of his peers. Hambling started as an assistant to Hugh Stewart and Ralph Kemplen, who gave him his first break. He went on to build a solid reputation as an editor specialising in comedies, particularly a string of films starring Norman Wisdom in the 1960s. During this period Hambling also worked as a sound editor, for example on Freud (US, d. John Huston, 1962), edited by Kemplen, and The Servant (d. Joseph Losey, 1963). When production in Britain declined during the 1970s Hambling found work editing commercials and television programmes. He returned to features editing with Bugsy Malone (1976) and has subsequently edited every film Alan Parker has directed.

Hambling's reason for continuing to work with a Moviola after the advent of non-linear editing is: "Speed isn't everything". Working on a Moviola is less instantaneous than an electronic system, but for Hambling as for some other editors this means: 'You spend time thinking about the next cut, or some aspect of the film'.

Hambling rarely talks publicly about his work but its quality is recognised by many of his colleagues. Don Fairservice devotes a lengthy section of his book on film editing to analysing Hambling's contribution to a sequence where FBI agent Rupert Anderson (Gene Hackman) confronts a racist barman in Mississippi Burning (US, d. Alan Parker, 1988). Fairservice notes how he optimises the impact of physical action, builds tension, and handles dialogue with particular subtlety. Hambling's mentor Kemplen was a noted dialogue editor, so Hambling can be seen as carrying on this tradition. More praise comes from Tony Lawson, who cites "the interviews during The Commitments [d. Alan Parker, 1991] where they try to find another band member, with everyone knocking on the door", as a sequence primarily, and expertly, constructed through editing.

Roy Perkins/Martin Stollery, British Film Editors: The Heart of the Movie (BFI Publishing, 2004)

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Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Another Country (1984)Another Country (1984)

Rupert Everett stars in a tale of public school sexual and political rebellion

Thumbnail image of Bugsy Malone (1976)Bugsy Malone (1976)

Alan Parker's delightfully original children's gangster musical

Thumbnail image of Commitments, The (1991)Commitments, The (1991)

Lively, raucous tale of working-class Dublin teenagers forming a soul band

Thumbnail image of Early Bird, The (1965)Early Bird, The (1965)

Milkman Norman Wisdom tries to save Grimsdale's Dairy from takeover

Thumbnail image of Magnificent Two, The (1967)Magnificent Two, The (1967)

Eric and Ernie get caught up in a South American revolution

Thumbnail image of Pink Floyd The Wall (1982)Pink Floyd The Wall (1982)

Alan Parker and Gerald Scarfe's visualisation of the epic concept album

Thumbnail image of Servant, The (1963)Servant, The (1963)

James Fox and Dirk Bogarde's savage attack on the British class system

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Thumbnail image of Parker, Alan (1944-)Parker, Alan (1944-)

Director, Producer, Writer