6 July 1911
16 April 1999 (aged 87)|
Los Angeles, California
|Occupation||Film editor & executive|
|Spouse(s)||Maris Wrixon (1940-1999)|
Rudolf “Rudi” Fehr (July 6, 1911 – April 16, 1999) was a German-born, American film editor and studio executive. He had more than thirty credits as an editor, and worked for more than twenty years as the head of production at the Warner Brothers studio.
Life and career
Fehr was born in Berlin, Germany. He decided upon a career in the film industry, and edited his first film, Der Schlemihl, in 1931. He then worked for several years with the producer Sam Spiegel, moving from Germany to Austria and England to avoid the restrictions of the Nazi regime. In 1935 he worked on the editing of the Buster Keaton film The Invader. In 1936, Fehr moved to Hollywood. Initially, he translated film from German into English for $60/week, but he soon landed a job with the Warner Brothers Studio, where he became an assistant editor to Warren Low. His first Hollywood editing credit was for the film My Love Came Back (1940). For the next fifteen years Fehr edited numerous studio films, including A Stolen Life (starring Bette Davis, 1946) and John Huston's Key Largo (starring Humphrey Bogart, 1948). In the early 1950s for Alfred Hitchcock, Fehr edited I Confess (1953) and Dial M for Murder (1954).
In his obituary, Allen Eyles notes two 1946 films as representative of Fehr's work, "Many of his films were routine, but A Stolen Life (1946) had the visual intricacy of Bette Davis playing the dual role of two sisters, initially on screen at the same time, and Humoresque (also 1946) presented John Garfield as an outstanding violinist, dubbed by Isaac Stern. Garfield had to be carefully filmed and edited as he couldn't play a note. He kept his arms behind his back in close-ups while a member of the studio orchestra perched on each side of him, their hands coming into frame to do the fingering and bowing."
His work on Beyond the Forest (1949) is an under appreciated masterpiece of editing. Fade outs and fade ins were created that are unparalleled. It is almost unbelievable that the end of the film got past the censors in 1949 as a sex-starved Bette crawls to one of the most phallic steam trains in movie history. Screenings at the Music Box Theater in Chicago in the mid-1980s had the audience screaming and applauding.
Jack Warner had briefly assigned Fehr to production duties in 1952. Following Dial M for Murder (1954), he became the head of post-production at Warner Bros., and didn't edit another film for nearly 30 years.
He retired as head of production from Warner Bros. in 1976, then returned to Europe to supervise foreign-language adaptations of Warner Bros. films from France, Germany, Italy and Spain. In 1980, Fehr became head of post-production for Francis Ford Coppola's Zoetrope Productions. In 1982, Fehr returned to edit Coppola's One from the Heart (1982). In 1985, he edited John Huston's Prizzi's Honor, for which he and his co-editor (and daughter) Kaja Fehr were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Film Editing. In 1986, he was a member of the jury at the 36th Berlin International Film Festival. Fehr served as a board member of the Motion Picture Editors Guild, and in 1993 he received the American Cinema Editors Career Achievement Award.
Fehr amassed a large collection of music recordings that were used by Peter Bogdanovich to provide authentic music from the 1930s for the film Paper Moon (1973). He was the founder of the Los Angeles-Berlin Sister City Committee, and he was awarded the Grand Medal of Merit from the president of West Germany in 1983. He was married to actress Maris Wrixon, whom he had met while they were both working on Million Dollar Baby (1941). They had three daughters. Fehr died of a heart attack in Los Angeles at age 87.
- Fehr's birthdate is from the Social Security Death Index.
- Eyles, Allen (June 16, 1999). "Obituary: Rudi Fehr". The Independent. Retrieved 2011-01-08.
- Pesselnick, Jill (May 12, 1999). "Rudi Fehr". Variety. Retrieved 2011-01-08.
- The obituary in Variety indicates that Fehr was the editor for The Invader, but no source for this claim is provided. Daniel Birt is listed as the editor for this film at Dardis, Tom (1996). Keaton: The Man Who Wouldn't Lie Down. Hal Leonard. p. 297. ISBN 978-0-87910-117-6. Fehr is not credited there.
- "Obituaries: Rudi Fehr; Film Editor on 'Key Largo'". The Los Angeles Times. April 20, 1999.
- "Berlinale: 1986 Juries". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
- Paper Moon opening screen credits.
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