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Carol Littleton, film editor


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The late John Bailey is survived by his wife, film editor Carol Littleton, who will receive an Academy Honorary Award in Los Angeles on 9 January 2024.


Early in her career Littleton edited E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) for Steven Spielberg. Shall we stop here? E.T. reigned as the highest-grossing film of all time for eleven years.


Littleton has edited nine films for writer-director Lawrence Kasdan, including his first, Body Heat (1981), an updating of Double Indemnity which powerfully impressed Hollywood (“Kasdan . . . Hollywood’s best young screenwriter” William Goldman, Adventures in the Screen Trade) and launched the career of Kathleen Turner. Littleton and Kasdan next collaborated on the landmark Big Chill (1983), an elegiac treatment of the lost ideals of the late-1960s generation. For writer-director Robert Benton (co-writer of the monumental Bonnie and Clyde), Littleton edited Places in the Heart (1984), which won an extremely surprised Sally Field the Academy Award for Best Actress, while Benton took home the statuette for Best Original Screenplay. Between 1987 and 2004 Littleton cut four films for Jonathan Demme—yet another storytelling genius.


For decades Carol Littleton has been an editor of choice for Hollywood’s brightest minds.


Littleton’s career has included significant work with a number of young and up-and-coming filmmakers. Her work on Benny & Joon (1993) for director Jeremiah S. Chechik didn’t hurt Johnny Depp’s slow-burgeoning career (he received a Golden Globe nomination); the film is also a high point in the filmography of Mary Stuart Masterson. For Noah Baumbach Littleton edited Margot at the Wedding in 2007.


Littleton was nominated for an Oscar for E.T., but 1982 was the year of Gandhi, an achievement which the Academy favored with an awards sweep (eight). Littleton has won an Emmy Award (2000) and an American Cinema Editors Award (2016). ACE honored Carol Littleton with a Career Achievement Award in 2016 (previous honorees—the list is composed of extraordinary artists—include Dorothy Spencer, Dede Allen, Anne V. Coates, Bud Smith, and Robert C. Jones).


Carol Littleton has served as the President of the Motion Picture Editors Guild. She is presently Vice President of ACE, and sits on the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


“The most important thing,” Carol Littleton instructs us, “is learning how to analyze a story.”

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