Thomas Stanford (film editor)

Thomas Gerald Stanford (1924 – 2017) was an American film and television editor with about sixteen feature film credits. He won the Academy Award for Best Film Editing at the 34th Academy Awards for the film West Side Story (1961), which was only his second credit as an editor.[1] Long afterwards, West Side Story was listed as the 38th best-edited film of all time in a 2012 survey of members of the Motion Picture Editors Guild. The film's editing is also featured in Louis Giannetti's textbook Understanding Movies.[2][3]

Thomas Stanford
Thomas Gerard Stanford

(1924-11-18)November 18, 1924
Düsseldorf, Germany
Died (aged 93)
OccupationFilm editor
Years active1955-1988

Stanford's first credit as an editor was for Suddenly, Last Summer (1959), which was a major production by the independent producer Sam Spiegel. Excepting a 1955 film version of the opera Don Giovanni, any earlier work as an assistant editor wasn't credited. This was typical in the 1950s.[4] Stanford edited three films with director Sydney Pollack, including Pollack's first feature The Slender Thread (1964). Stanford's work on Pollack's feature Jeremiah Johnson (1972) drew the attention of critic Gene Siskel, who wrote "Oddly enough, it is the violent scenes, the ones that don't work within the story, in which Pollack excels. Jeremiah's battle with a pack of wolves, and, later, a pack of Crow Indians, are stunning examples of direction and editing."[5] In the 1960s, Stanford edited two films directed by Mark Rydell, including his debut The Fox (1967). Stanford's last film before his retirement was Born to Race (1988).

Stanford died at the age of 93 in 2017.[6][7]


This filmography is based on the listing at the Internet Movie Database.[8]


  1. ^ "The 33rd Academy Awards (1961) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved March 21, 2014.
  2. ^ "The 75 Best Edited Films". Editors Guild Magazine. 1 (3). May 2012. Archived from the original on 2015-03-17.
  3. ^ Giannetti, Louis D. (2018). Understanding Movies (14 ed.). Boston: Pearson. p. 160. ISBN 9780134492087. OCLC 950611437. Musicals are often edited in a radically formalist style, without having to observe the cutting conventions of ordinary dramatic movies. The editing of West Side Story is very abstract. The music, by Leonard Bernstein, and the dance numbers, choreographed by Jerome Robbins, are edited together for maximum aesthetic impact, rather than to forward the story. Nor are the shots linked by some principle of thematic association. Rather, the shots are juxtaposed primarily for their lyrical and kinetic beauty, somewhat like a music video.
  4. ^ Zone, Ray (May–June 2006). "Recalling the Esteemed O'Steen". Editors' Guild Magazine. 27 (3). Retrieved 2014-05-29.
  5. ^ Siskel, Gene (December 28, 1972). "Jeremiah Johnson". Chicago Tribune.
  6. ^ Barnes, Mike. "Thomas Stanford, Oscar-Winning Film Editor on 'West Side Story,' Dies at 93". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  7. ^ "Thomas G. Stanford's Obituary on Santa Fe New Mexican". Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  8. ^ Thomas Stanford at IMDb