Posts Tagged ‘Dann Cahn’

Remembering “I Love Lucy” Editor Dann Cahn

Monday, November 26th, 2012

The Archive is sad to hear of the death of editor Dann Cahn, who passed away on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at the age of 89. Cahn edited I Love Lucy and several other Desilu productions, including Our Miss Brooks, The Untouchables, and The Loretta Young Show Cahn also edited The Beverly Hillbillies, Police Woman, and Remington Steele and served as head of Post Production at Glen Larson Productions.

Below are some selections from Cann’s 1999 Archive interview:

On acting when he was a child:

I went out on another set around nineteen-thirty-seven. These Dead End Kids were the rage, and we were in for a long series of tough kid pictures. They went from being the little tough guys to the Bowery Boys at Monogram. They went on and on and on making these tough kid movies. Well, I was out on the set and the producer had quite a close relationship with my dad. He’d cut several pictures for him.  nd he took a look at me – and I was the same age as the kids, or maybe a couple of years younger – and he said, “gee, Danny, you ought to be in the picture.” I looked at my dad and he said, “okay.”  So I went and joined the Screen Actors Guild. I still have my card.

On watching his father edit:

I’d watch my dad work in the cutting room and I’d learn how to, well actually, by the time I was in my teens I knew how to splice film. At that point the machine to put film together was what they called a foot pedestal hot splicer. It had two pedals like your brake and clutch on an old car, and you took these blades up and you put the film in and you brought it down with film cement, which splashed all over you. It was a mess. Smelled kind of like fingernail polish, but it was much more potent. Then you had to use acetone, which is a very strong chemical, to keep the machine clean because the cement would clog it up. It was a kind of dirty job.

On how he got hired on I Love Lucy:

A young fellow stuck his head in the cutting room door from his cutting room down the hall, and his name was Bill Asher. I had known Bill from before the war – when I was an apprentice he was an assistant editor – he’s a couple of years older than me. He showed me the initial ropes of how to splice and number film. The war had come and ten years had gone by. So he said, “Danny,” he said, “I just got offered a job to cut a thing with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz called I Love Lucy. It’s going to be for CBS. I’m directing and cutting some very short films that I’m trying to get going, and I wrote them too, and I don’t want to take an editing job; I want to make it as a director. So I’m going to pass but I can get you an interview with the producer, who I know, uh, if you’re interested.” I said, “well, yeah, I’m looking for new connections.  I’ll go if I can get the interview.” It was arranged and I went and I met Jess Oppenheimer.

On editing I Love Lucy:

Mark (Daniels) was so involved, he just said, “I’ll see you at the dailies.” I came to the show that Saturday night, the film went to the lab, came out Monday morning, and I said to Bud, “they’ve got this thing here, this multiple moviola, but I’ve never run it. I’m going to have to mark each moviola and take a guess when I make cuts, and it’s going to take time.” Al Simon, who had hired George Fox said, “well, you should try this multiple-headed moviola, and it’s going to save you time. George swears by it.” So they bring this thing over on a truck and it’s like three moviolas in a line with a sound head, and it’s in a big base.  And I said, “what are we going to do with this three-headed monster?”  Bud Molin, who at the time was my assistant, started to laugh, and he says, “yeah, it really is a monster.” We didn’t know where to put it. It wouldn’t fit in our tiny cutting room, where I had one moviola. So they put it in the prop room, where all the props for the show were kept, and the corner of the prop room was part of our sound stage, and that’s where we put the monster.” I had a little mini bleachers made for about four people so they could see the dailies.

On the reaction to his cut of the first episode of I Love Lucy:

The silence seemed an eternity to me. And then Lucy was sitting directly behind me. Desi didn’t open his mouth himself. And Lucy put her hands on my shoulders and she says, “Danny, it’s a good cutting job.” That broke the tension and everybody started talking. “Oh yeah, it’s going to be a hit. It’s going to be wonderful. It’s going to be fine.” They were all congratulating each other and themselves for coming up with this I Love Lucy.

On the transition of I Love Lucy to The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour:

On editing The Beverly Hillbillies:

I did the whole year of The Beverly Hillbillies. I did what two editors had done the year before. I did it all myself, except for the Christmas show. And they promised me certain things that for reasons I won’t go into, they didn’t deliver it. They wanted me to pick it up for the third season, just the way I did.  And I recommended a pal of mine, who, from the Republic days we had been assistant editors together, and his name was Bob Leeds, and I recommended him as the editor, and he signed up and took my job, which I gave to him. Some of us weren’t through cutting our competition. We were friends with it.  Paul liked Bob, and the guy he picked as third year director collapsed, and Bob Leeds became the director of The Beverly Hillbillies. If I just stayed I would have been the director of The Beverly Hillbillies. That’s timing, and I missed it again.

On editing:

Watch Dann Cahn’s full Archive interview and read his obituary in the Los Angeles Times.

“I Love Lucy” Turns 60 – The Archive has some ’splaining to do

Friday, October 14th, 2011

I Love Lucy debuted 60 years ago on October 15, 1951 and within 6 months became the first TV show to be seen in 10 million homes. Today it’s still broadcast in reruns all over the world. The Archive has not only conducted interviews with many of the show’s cast and crew members, but with numerous other TV legends who were fans of or inspired by the popular sitcom.

Watch Archive interviewees Sheldon Leonard, Dann Cahn, William Asher, Madelyn Pugh Davis and Bob Carroll, Jr., Army Archerd, Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf, Jay Sandrich, Mary Tyler Moore, Keith Thibodeaux, Sidney Lumet,  A.C Lyles, John Forsythe, Doris Singleton, and Dixon Dern reminisce about I Love Lucy in this video:

Here are a few more little-known facts about I Love Lucy, straight from those who worked on the show:

Irma Kusely
- I Love Lucy’s hairdresser

“Philip Morris was the sponsor. And Desi smoked Chesterfields. So I don’t know how they did that.”  

Dann Cahn
– Editor

“Ten minutes at a time. Each reel of film, of a load, was ten minutes.  They timed a scene to be shot within ten minutes. They never ran ten. Seven, eight were the most… Then they’d entertain the audience and they’d do another one.”

Madelyn Pugh Davis and Bob Carroll, Jr. – Writers

“Sometimes he would fool us. We wrote it and he says, ‘he wouldn’t say it that way.’ I forget the word, a couple of them were like that … He never minded and there’s an interesting thing, he admitted years later, sometimes there’d be a joke that was based on American slang or something… And he wouldn’t know what it was, but he never let on … we’d do some little joke on that and he never said a word. He told me, ‘well, I figured you guys said it was funny, it was funny, but I didn’t know what it meant.’”

Dann Cahn – Editor

“I packed up and I met an agency in New York and I went across the George Washington Bridge and made that famous first process shot for television – which was when they went across the bridge singing “California Here We Come.” They were in the Pontiac with the top down, but they were sitting on the sound stage with the audience. And behind them was the what we called process film plate, which I shot out of the rear end of a station wagon of going across the bridge, and it was projected behind them on the screen. And that was the first process photography for television. Momentous moment, and it looked great, and there’s still stills all over the place of them on the bridge driving in the Pontiac, which you can buy anywhere.”

Ted Rich – Editor’s apprentice

“They’d shoot the shows – like on The Lucy Show, we’d shoot on Thursday. It’d start on Monday, but Desi wanted to shoot the show on Thursday because he loved to play golf and they had a home in Palm Springs. And they’d take off Friday and they’d go away.  So they’d shoot the show on Thursday.”

Ted Rich – Editor’s apprentice

“We had Dean Martin, coming on as a guest on the show. They were scared to death because Dean Martin would not rehearse. He would not come in at all. He did it spontaneous as he came on. And they – Desi Arnaz was so worried and Billy Asher was our director. They were so concerned, because sometimes, I don’t know whether it was true about whether he had an alcohol problem or what. You never know when you’re relaxed and you have an audience there. But they went ahead with the show because they had him billed for it and the script written for him and, by gosh, we filmed the show and Deanwalked right on and did his scene and it worked great and it was hysterical.  But the cameras don’t know where he’s going to be or what and again, he’s saying that same thing, once he got on the set, stay with him. Because even though he’s doing that episode, he’s going to finish. If we miss Lucy or Desi Arnaz in something of the coverage – we can pick it up the next episode. It wouldn’t be a problem because the sets didn’t change that much. But it was scary in those kinds of situations when we had a person like that come on and you don’t know what to expect. It was a nail-biting time for them.”

Jay Sandrich
– Assistant Director

“One of the most interesting experiences I had is when we did an hour show with Red Skelton. There was a scene in a boxcar and they’re both hobos as they called them in those days, and he is doing a pantomime of eating a meal and she’s supposed to do it exactly the way he did it. So she stopped him in rehearsal when he started, and he was a great pantomimist and she said, ‘how do you do that?’ And he said, ‘I don’t know. I just do it.’ And she said, ‘no you, you’ve got to show me.’ He said, ‘well what do you mean?’ She goes, ’show me how you do it.’ So for about two or three hours, he tutored her. ‘Well you’ve got to feel that there’s a glass there. You got to feel the weight, when you bring it up to your lips and you’ve got to pretend like you’re swallowing the liquid.’ And she’d say, ’show me.’ And he’d do it, not quickly. He’d have to do it moment by moment by moment. By the end of those two or three hours, whatever it was, she was as good as he was.”

Jay Sandrich – Assistant Director

“The other one I remember which was not a happy experience, we had a bunch of chickens, baby chicks and they bought them at the beginning of the week and they were in a box. And by the time Thursday came around, take the lid off the box, one of ‘em was big enough to crawl out of the box and crawl on the floor and one of the cameras rolled over it right in front of the audience. I mean the cameraman didn’t see it or anything, and try to get an audience to laugh after they’d just seen a baby chick run over. Horrible.”

Keith Thibodeaux – Little Ricky

“No, never, never did… Well only thing I can guess is that they wanted people to think that little Ricky was their real son, Desi Jr., Desi Arnaz Jr. So whenever I did get mentioned, it was always, ‘Lucile Ball, Desi Arnaz, William Frawley, Vivian Vance, and Little Ricky,’ so it could have been Rin Tin Tin for that matter.”

- by Adrienne Faillace

For even more about I Love Lucy, click here to visit the Archive’s show page.