"I don't write with anybody. I write by myself. But when it comes to the editing, I write with Sally."
Film editor Sally Menke was as integral to the construction of a Quentin Tarantino film as Quentin himself. When principal photography wrapped, Tarantino would huddle in a little house with Menke and go to work splicing together the film he'd had in his head since the day he first put pen to paper. This is the way it has been since RESERVOIR DOGS. And this, sadly, is the way it will never be again.
Menke was found dead early Tuesday morning at the bottom of a ravine near Glen Oak Drive in Hollywood, California. She had gone missing Monday, which immediately raises the suspicion that she was overcome by yesterday's sweltering heat (it was the hottest day on record in Los Angeles). Whatever the cause, the loss is incalculable to her family and friends; Menke was only fifty-six-years-old, and a long, long way from closing out her brilliant career.
I encourage every AICN reader to go to their DVD shelf today, pull out their favorite Tarantino movie, and celebrate one of the most ecstatic collaborations between a director and editor in film history. You may be compelled to study the editing more than you normally would, but that's not necessary. Just give yourself over to the rhythm of the film as you always do. Get lost in it. And when, after two or three hours, the end credits start to scroll, say "Thank you, Sally."
I spent some time trying to track down the perfect quote from Tarantino or Menke on the nature of their collaboration before my friend Russ Fischer reminded me of this love letter from the DEATH PROOF DVD. There are some terrific interviews with Menke outthere, but this short film says it all.