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Anne V. Coates, film editor of 'Lawrence of Arabia,' 'Fifty Shades of Grey,' dies at 92

| Wednesday, May 9, 2018, 6:57 p.m.
Anne V. Coates arrives at the 2016 Governors Awards in Los Angeles.
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
Anne V. Coates arrives at the 2016 Governors Awards in Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES — Oscar-winning film editor Anne V. Coates, widely considered one of the greatest in her field whose many credits include such disparate works as "Lawrence of Arabia," "The Elephant Man" and "Fifty Shades of Grey," has died. She was 92.

A representative from Coates' talent agency WME Entertainment said Wednesday that she passed away Tuesday at the Motion Picture Country Home and Hospital in Woodland Hills, Calif.

The niece of British film mogul J. Arthur Rank, she tried to break into the industry in the 1950s as a director but soon turned to editing, a line of work much more open for women.

She went on to edit dozens of films during a 60-year career and savored her collaborations with Clint Eastwood, David Lean and Steven Soderbergh among others. Her films included historical epics ("Lawrence of Arabia"), art-house favorites ("The Elephant Man"), light comedy ("What About Bob?") and sexier fare ("Fifty Shades of Grey").

Perhaps her most famous edit is the "match cut" in "Lawrence of Arabia," which juxtaposes a shot of Lawrence blowing out a match with one of the sun rising on the desert horizon. It's a cut that's even said to have inspired Steven Spielberg to make films.

Filmmaker Edgar Wright tweeted his condolences Wednesday, noting the famed match cut, but also making a plea to "cheer" for the "sublime editing in the (pre) love scene in 'Out Of Sight.'"

Coates loved her job so much that she waited until she was nearly 90 to retire. In 2016, she became only the second film editor, after Margaret Booth, to receive an honorary Oscar.

"Can you imagine a job where you're actually paid to look into the eyes of George Clooney, Peter O'Toole, Richard Burton... Clint Eastwood, Richard Gere, Daniel Craig, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mr. 'Fifty Shades of Grey,' Jamie Dornan?" she said as she accepted her award.

In presenting the honor, Richard Gere described Coates as "the greatest of the great, great film editors."

Coates won a competitive Oscar for 1962's "Lawrence of Arabia" and was nominated four other times, for "Becket," ''The Elephant Man," ''In the Line of Fire," and Soderbergh's "Out of Sight." She was also BAFTA -nominated four times.

Born in Reigate, England, Coates first became a fan of film after a high school field trip to see an adaptation of Emily Bronte's "Wuthering Heights" that starred Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon. While she found the book "extremely boring," the film was a thrill.

"Well, apart for falling madly for Laurence Olivier, it just so excited me to see what you could do with pictures, with telling a story in pictures," she said.

She married director Douglas Hickox in 1958 and had three children, all of whom work in the film industry. Sons Anthony Hickox and James D. R. Hickox are directors and daughter Emma Hickox is an editor.

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