Michael Luciano

Michael Luciano (May 2, 1909 – September 15, 1992) was an American film and television editor with about forty feature film credits and many additional credits for television programs.[1][2] From 1954 to 1977, Luciano edited 20 (nearly all) of the films directed, and often produced, by Robert Aldrich.[3][4] Aldrich was a prolific and independent maker of popular films "who depicted corruption and evil unflinchingly, and pushed limits on violence throughout his career."[5] Their early collaboration, the film noir Kiss Me Deadly (1955), was entered into the US National Film Registry in 1999;[6] the unusual editing of the film has been noted by several critics.[7][8][9] Luciano's work with Aldrich was recognized by four Academy Award nominations, for Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964),[10] The Flight of the Phoenix (1965),[11] The Dirty Dozen (1967),[12] and The Longest Yard (1974).[13] The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences never recognized Aldrich himself.[14]

Michael Luciano
Michael A. Luciano

May 2, 1909 (1909-05-02)
DiedSeptember 15, 1992(1992-09-15) (aged 83)
OccupationFilm and television editor

Early careerEdit

Nothing appears to have been published about Luciano's early career and education. In the era of the Hollywood studio system and the "Big Five" studios, Luciano's credits are for films produced by smaller companies. His first credit is as the editor of The Luck of Roaring Camp, a 1937 film produced by Monogram Pictures, which was a "Poverty Row" studio.[15] He edited Gang War (1940), which was produced by Million Dollar Productions.[16] His last credit before the US entry into World War II was apparently for Meet the Chump (1941).[17]

Luciano's first postwar credit was for The Return of Rin Tin Tin (1947), which was the 41st feature film that starred the German shepherd dog Rin Tin Tin and his successors.[18][19] Also in 1947, Luciano was the assistant to editors Robert Parrish and Francis D. Lyon on the boxing film Body and Soul, which was directed by Robert Rossen. The film won the Academy Award for Best Film Editing.[20] Luciano worked for Parrish again as the "montage editor" on the 1949 film, Caught, and then co-edited the 1951 documentary Of Men and Music with Parrish and two others. Parrish subsequently moved into directing, and Luciano was the editor for Parrish's 1959 western, The Wonderful Country.[21]

The Aldrich collaborationEdit

Theatrical release poster for Kiss Me Deadly (1955)

Robert Aldrich was an assistant director on Body and Soul, Chase, and Of Men and Music.[3] He asked Luciano to edit the 1954 film World for Ransom, which was the first film he produced and directed. Joseph F. Biroc was the cinematographer, and Frank De Vol composed the music. Luciano, Biroc, and De Vol became Aldrich's "informal repertory company" for the next two decades.[22] In 1955 Luciano edited Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly, which is an important film noir that is now in the National Film Registry.[6] Luciano edited almost all of Aldrich's films that followed Kiss Me Deadly, including three in the following year.

Aldrich enjoyed particular success with the 1962 film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and its offspring Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964).[23] The latter film won Luciano his first major recognition with a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Film Editing, which was just one of the seven "Oscar" nominations for the film.[24] The following year, Luciano's editing of The Flight of the Phoenix was nominated both for the Oscar and for the Eddie Award of the American Cinema Editors.[25] The film that was Aldrich's greatest commercial success was The Dirty Dozen (1967), which had the fifth largest US ticket sales in 1967.[26] Luciano won the Eddie award for the picture,[25] and was again nominated for the Oscar. The Longest Yard (1974), again directed by Aldrich, garnered Luciano his second Eddie Award[25][27] and a fourth Oscar nomination.[28]

The final film of the long Aldrich-Luciano collaboration was Twilight's Last Gleaming (1977). For about 23 years, Luciano had been a member of Aldrich's "informal repertory company", which also included cinematographer Joseph F. Biroc and composer Frank De Vol.[22][29] Ben Sachs has written of Aldrich's motivations in maintaining a core group of collaborators over more than two decades. He notes that Aldrich admired the studio system, which could keep teams of filmmakers together for decades. Aldrich's career saw the collapse of that system, but "Aldrich sought to preserve the team of collaborators — which included cinematographer Joseph Biroc, composer Frank De Vol, editor Michael Luciano, and production designer William Glasgow — with whom he'd regularly worked since his second feature, World for Ransom (1954). ... In interviews he presented himself as an organizer of creative talents who encouraged his casts and crews to help shape the material at hand."[8]

Other worksEdit

Luciano edited several more features before his retirement around 1982, including Stripes (1981), which was directed by Ivan Reitman.[30] In addition to his editing of feature films with Aldrich and other directors, Luciano was a prolific editor of television programs in the 1950s and 1960s, with credits for episodes of Gunsmoke, Have Gun – Will Travel, The Donna Reed Show, and other series.[2] In 1956, Luciano edited one episode of Gunsmoke that was directed by Charles Marquis Warren, and over the next two years Luciano edited three feature films directed by Warren.[31] Luciano was nominated for an Eddie for a 1964 episode of the television program Bewitched.[25] Luciano's last film project was Kidnapped (1987), for which he is credited as a supervising editor and an associate producer.[32]

Luciano's legacyEdit

Luciano's editing has been noted in several books and articles. In his book, Film Noir, William Luhr notes the editing of Kiss Me Deadly as part of the film's "disorienting, even disturbing, formal strategies."[7] J. P. Telotte writes of this film that, "one of the pillars of classical narrative, continuity editing, often disappears - or to be more precise, repeatedly fails, as in a later work like Breathless, so that we see the seams in the narrative, the manipulations in our point of view, the mismatched fragments of the story constructed for us."[9]

In their 2002 text, Robert Goodman and Patrick McGrath recommend study of Luciano's editing of The Dirty Dozen and of The Longest Yard.[33] In his study of films with sports themes, Randy Williams discusses the influence of The Longest Yard (1974): "Aldrich uses split-screen and slow motion techniques to help convey the tension and drama as the game progresses. The real key is the pinpoint timing of Michael Luciano's editing. ... The Longest Yard is still one of the more influential movies in sports cinema."[34]

Glenn Erickson has discussed the split-screen editing of Twilight's Last Gleaming, which was Luciano's final film with Aldrich, "In this show Aldrich and Luciano make effective use of split screens to show multiple parallel actions simultaneously. Actions that play out in real time seem more immediate, when we see all the information all at once: a pair of commandos set a nuclear device on one side of a steel door, while on the other side General Dell and his fellow gunmen begin to guess that just such a commando sneak attack might be taking place."[4] Ben Sachs notes that the clearly visible editing that characterized Kiss Me Deadly was toned down in later films by Aldrich and Luciano, "Intriguingly, Aldrich's style grew more modest as his content grew more provocative. Where his 50s and 60s work teems with hopped-up editing and Wellesian camera angles, his later films are comparatively straightforward. ... The filmmaking privileges content over style, pushing to the foreground the contradictions inherent in the material."[8]

Luciano had been selected as a member of the American Cinema Editors.[35]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Luciano's birth and death dates are taken from the Social Security Death Index; see "Michael A Luciano, 15 September 1992". FamilySearch.
  2. ^ a b Michael Luciano on IMDb
  3. ^ a b In his 1995 monograph, Alain Silver published a complete filmography for Aldrich's films that includes crew credits. Luciano is credited as an editor on 20 films directed by Aldrich; see Silver, Alain (1995). What Ever Happened to Robert Aldrich?: His Life and His Films. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 229–312. ISBN 9780879101855.
  4. ^ a b Erickson, Glenn (November 4, 2012). "Twilight's Last Gleaming". DVD Talk.
  5. ^ Patterson, John (December 7, 2012). "What Ever Happened To Baby Jane should remind us of the talent of Robert Aldrich". The Guardian.
  6. ^ a b "Librarian of Congress Names 25 More Films to National Film Registry" (Press release). Library of Congress. November 16, 1999. Archived from the original on September 4, 2008. Retrieved July 22, 2009.
  7. ^ a b Luhr, William (2012). Film Noir. John Wiley & Sons. p. 131. ISBN 9781444355925.
  8. ^ a b c Sachs, Ben (August 14, 2013). "In Ulzana's Raid, the Vietnam War's in the Arizona desert". The Chicago Reader.
  9. ^ a b Telotte, J. P. (2004). "Voices from the Deep: Film Noir as Psychodrama". In Silver, Alain; Ursini, James (eds.). Film Noir Reader 4. p. 153. ISBN 9780879103057.
  10. ^ "1964 Academy Awards". Infoplease.com. Retrieved April 1, 2014.
  11. ^ "1965 Academy Awards". Infoplease.com. Retrieved April 1, 2014.
  12. ^ "1967 Academy Awards". Infoplease.com. Retrieved April 1, 2014.
  13. ^ "1974 Academy Awards". Infoplease.com. Retrieved April 1, 2014.
  14. ^ Slifkin, Irv (October 3, 2012). "All About Aldrich". Movies Unlimited. Archived from the original on March 25, 2014. Retrieved March 25, 2014. Although he was never nominated for an Academy Award, Robert Aldrich entertained, provoked and sometimes perplexed those who watched his films over his four-decade career.
  15. ^ Hanson, Patricia King; Gevinson, Alan, eds. (1993). The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States: Feature Films, 1931-1940. University of California Press. p. 443. ISBN 9780520079083.
  16. ^ Balio, Tino (1995). Grand Design: Hollywood as a Modern Business Enterprise, 1930–1939. University of California Press. p. 345. ISBN 9780520203341. Million Dollar, more than any other company, moved black filmmaking away from a marginalized form towards the mainstream, advancing considerably its reputation and ability to attract audiences.
  17. ^ "Meet the Chump (1941) – Notes". Turner Classic Movies. While the film's credits and contemporary reviews list Milton Carruth as the film's editor, Universal publicity materials credit Mike Luciano in that position.
  18. ^ Gevinson, Alan, ed. (1997). "The Return of Rin Tin Tin". Within Our Gates: Ethnicity in American Feature Films, 1911-1960. University of California Press. p. 834. ISBN 9780520209640.
  19. ^ Rin Tin Tin on IMDb. Rin Tin Tin Jr. on IMDb Rin Tin Tin III on IMDb
  20. ^ "The 20th Academy Awards (1948) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
  21. ^ Fristoe, Roger. "The Wonderful Country". Turner Classic Movies.
  22. ^ a b Holden, Stephen (March 11, 1994). "Critic's Notebook; A Brash Outsider Inside Hollywood". The New York Times.
  23. ^ Erickson, Glenn (July 18, 2005). "DVD Savant Review: Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte".
  24. ^ "The 37th Academy Awards (1965) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2014-04-06.
  25. ^ a b c d "Michael Luciano - Awards - IMDb". The American Cinema Editors does not provide an archive of Eddie awards, referring instead to the Internet Movie Database. See "ACE Eddie Awards". American Cinema Editors. Archived from the original on 2014-05-10. Retrieved 2014-04-03.
  26. ^ "The Dirty Dozen, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  27. ^ "Eddie Awards". Variety. 178 (5): 4. March 12, 1975. ProQuest 1286049079.
  28. ^ The winner of an Eddie award is selected by a vote of the membership of the American Cinema Editors, whereas Oscars are decided by the voting members of the entire Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, including actors, writers, producers, and practitioners of many of the other film crafts. See "Rule Thirteen—Special Rules for the Film Editing Award". 79th Academy Awards Rules for Distinguished Achievements in 2006. Archived from the original on 2010-07-18.
  29. ^ Alain Silver has written that "Like many producers and directors, Aldrich preferred working with the same group of people and considered these writers, crew members, and actors as part of his extended family." See Silver, Alain (1995). What Ever Happened to Robert Aldrich?: His Life and His Films. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 28. ISBN 9780879101855.
  30. ^ "Stripes (1981) - Cast and Crew". Allmovie.
  31. ^ The films were Unknown Terror (1957), Copper Sky (1957), and Blood Arrow (1958); see "Works crediting Charles Marquis Warren and Michael Luciano". The Internet Movie Database.
  32. ^ "Kidnapped (1987) - Cast and Crew". Allmovie.
  33. ^ Goodman, Robert; McGrath, Patrick (2002). Editing Digital Video: The Complete Creative and Technical Guide. McGraw Hill Professional. pp. 305, 308. ISBN 9780071406352.
  34. ^ Williams, Randy (2006). Sports Cinema 100 Movies: The Best of Hollywood's Athletic Heroes, Losers, Myths, and Misfits. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 315. ISBN 9780879103316.
  35. ^ American Cinemeditor, Volumes 23-25. American Cinema Editors. 1973. p. 10. Reprinted copies of the newsletter.

Further readingEdit

  • Irv Slifkin has quoted Aldrich on the importance of both producing and directing his films: "The power is for the director to do what he wants to do. To achieve that he needs his own cutter, he needs his cameraman, he needs his own assistant and a strong voice in his choice of writer; a very, very strong voice on who’s the actor. He needs the power not to be interfered with and the power to make the movie as he sees it." See Slifkin, Irv (October 3, 2012). "All About Aldrich". Movies Unlimited. Archived from the original on March 25, 2014. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
  • Williams, Tony (2004). Body and Soul: The Cinematic Vision of Robert Aldrich. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9780810849938.

External linksEdit