Editing LIMELIGHT, 1952

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With Chaplin are cameraman Rollie Totheroh (in vest and tie), assistant producer Jerry Epstein (in dark sweater), and editor Joseph Engel (first and second photo at right). Limelight was Chaplin’s last film made at his own studio in Hollywood.

Jerry Epstein recalls what it was like editing the film with Chaplin:

Charlie and I worked in the cutting room for a little over six months. Charlie never allowed anyone but himself to edit his films. The cutter’s job was merely to assemble every sequence into long shot, medium shot and close-up, and splice the film together after Charlie had decided where he wanted the cuts. 

It could have been clear sailing, but we had a bungler as our editor. Cutting rooms are usually well-ordered: all the film takes are labelled and easily located. Ours was in total chaos; our editor couldn’t find anything. The minute Charlie asked for a take, he began shaking and opening every tin in sight. Rolls of film tumbled onto the floor. It was like a W.C. Fields film. I thought Charlie would have a stroke. His precious Limelight! Luckily I knew each take by heart, and was always able to locate what Charlie wanted. The editor, meanwhile, would be muttering, “But that was never filmed; there’s no such take!” –Jerry Epstein, Remembering Charlie, 1989.

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