In Memoriam – Terry Rawlings, ACE


3rd Qtr, 2019


Terry Rawlings, ACE – whose collaborations with director Ridley Scott include classics Alien (1979) and Blade Runner (1982) – died on April 23. He was 85. With a career spanning from 1955 to 2005, he earned BAFTA® nominations for both Alien and Blade Runner.

He was also well-known for editing Chariots of Fire (1981), for which he was nominated for both an Academy Award® and BAFTA. Rawlings was born and educated in north London and entered the printing trade upon leaving school. Between 1951 and 1953 he was a radar operator in the RAF as part of post-War national military service.

After leaving the forces he joined Rank Screen Services at Pinewood Studios in 1955 as an assistant librarian despite professing to have no ambition to get into the film industry. The work did however gain him a union card and his career progressed when he was asked to assist on the sound of Town on Trial, starring John Mills, for director John Guillermin.

Over the next few years he gained experience assisting in the sound department on features including Stanley Donen’s Cary Grant- and Ingrid Bergman-starring Indiscreet (1958) and 1961 comedy Petticoat Pirates. His first lead role as a sound editor was on 1962’s prison-set comedy, The Pot Carriers. Arguably, Rawlings’ big break was dubbing sound for Bryan Forbes’ The L-Shaped Room in 1962. This critically-acclaimed hit was the forerunner of British independent ‘kitchen-sink’ dramas like Saturday Night and Sunday Morning which tackled controversial social issues (in this case pregnancy out of wedlock).

Rawlings’ first partnership with director Michael Winner was The Jokers in 1967 starring Michael Crawford and Oliver Reed. Together they made 11 pictures, with Rawlings responsible for sound editing on The Mechanic and Chato’s Land, two hard hitting American-set action films starring Charles Bronson.

His sound editing work in this period also included Bedazzled, starring comedy duo Peter Cook and Dudley Moore also for Donen; Isadora (1968) for Karel Reisz, the 1974 Robert Redford-starring version of The Great Gatsby and several pictures for director Ken Russell including Women in Love (1969), The Music Lovers (1971), The Devils (1971) and Lisztomania (the first Dolby stereo feature film, 1975).

He was also music editor on Russell’s screen version of The Who’s rock opera, Tommy (1975). After Winner trusted Rawlings to complete the picture edit of supernatural horror The Sentinel (1977), when the original editor dropped out, his career took a major change of direction into full film editing. That year he had already worked with Ridley Scott on sound editing his feature debut, The Duellists, and the director invited Rawlings back to edit Alien.

Released in 1979, the picture redefined both horror and science-fiction storytelling, entered cinema folklore and led to multiple sequels including David Fincher’s Alien 3 in 1992 which Rawlings was widely credited as saving in the edit. With Scott again on Blade Runner, Rawlings had to work away from the Warner Bros. lot and was credited only as supervising editor because he did not belong to an American film union.

Rawlings was never happy with the film’s voice-over narration or happy ending which were required by the studio and were removed along with reinstatement of unicorn footage to signify Deckard’s dreams in the Director’s Cut release in 1992.

He co-devised with director Colin Welland, the slow-motion opening and closing sequences of British sprinters run- ning barefoot along a beach to Vangelis’ score on Chariots of Fire and helped revive the James Bond franchise with Pierce Brosnan’s debut as the spy in GoldenEye (1995).

Other features of note which he edited included Legend, starring Tom Cruise, also for Scott; action films The Saint (1997), U.S. Marshals (1998), Entrapment (1999) and The Core (2003); the 1990 comedy, Bullseye! (1990), starring Roger Moore and Michael Caine; and musicals Yentl (1983) starring Barbra Streisand and The Phantom of the Opera (2004) for director Joel Schumacher, which was Rawlings last major credit.

Always modest about his significant achievements and talent, he received a total of five BAFTA award nominations – three for film editing and two sound – as well as its 2014 Special Award, and was honored with the ACE Career Achievement Award in 2006. In 1960, Rawlings married Louise Kirsop, a secretary at Elstree Studios. He is survived by his wife and their three sons, David, Robert and Simon. –Adrian Pennington