Gerry Hambling’s death the day after film director Alan Parker received his BAFTA fellowship was a poignant coda to a career worthy of the man’s finesse in sculpting films that offered as much to the eye as to the emotions.
The pair had first worked together in the 1970s when Parker was gaining a name in television advertising. Hambling went on to edit 14 of Parker’s films, five of which received Academy Award nominations – in all, he was nominated six times – with three securing BAFTA awards for his work in the cutting room on Midnight Express (1978), Mississippi Burning (1988) and The Commitments (1991).
His other Parker-helmed credits included Bugsy Malone (1976), Fame (1980), Pink Floyd – The Wall (1982), Birdy (1984), Evita (1996) and Angela’s Ashes (1999).
Upon leaving school at 16, Hambling joined Pinewood Studios as an apprentice editor. His first credit was the 1956 Peggy Mount comedy Dry Rot. A slew of British quota films, documentaries and the TV series Interpol Calling (1959-60) followed.
His talents – Alan Parker insists his edits were “accurate to a single sprocket” – were also brought to bear on a succession of popular British films, including The Bulldog Breed (1960) with Norman Wisdom, the three forays onto the big screen of Morecambe and Wise, Joseph Losey’s The Servant (1963) and the 1969 Milo O’Shea vehicle The Adding Machine.
His other credits included the TV mini-series Moses the Lawgiver (1974) – co-written by Anthony Burgess and starring Burt Lancaster – the film adaptation of Julian Mitchell’s stage hit Another Country (1984), comedian Lenny Henry’s 1989 stand-up tour Lenny Live and Unleashed, Roland Joffe’s City of Joy (1992), Jim Sheridan’s controversial portrait of the Birmingham Six, In the Name of the Father (1993) and The Boxer (1997), both starring Daniel Day-Lewis, and Julien Temple’s Absolute Beginners (1996).
In 1998, he received a career achievement award from the American Cinema Editors society. His last film was the Kevin Spacey and Kate Winslet thriller The Life of David Gale, directed, fittingly enough, by Alan Parker in 2003. In the same year Hambling, reluctant to engage with the emergence of digital editing processes, announced his retirement.
Gerry Hambling was born in Croydon on June 14, 1926, and died, aged 86, on February 5. He is survived by his wife and two children.