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How I came to be nicknamed Gerald McBoing-Boing


Good plus good doesn't always equal better
Walter Murch Film-maker
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Another experience that I had right about that same time was my parents left me alone one day. I was old enough to be left alone so I was probably six, and I said to myself, I am now going to make the most delicious drink imaginable. And I'm going to put into one glass everything that I love which at that time was milk and chocolate syrup and Cheerios, the breakfast cereal, and peanut butter and to top it up, a little bit of water. So I assembled all of these things in the kitchen and concocted this drink and stirred it up and it didn't look too good, these Cheerios floating on top and the peanut butter kind of globbed in the middle, but these are all good things. It must be good and I took a sip and nearly threw up. I didn't but the lesson for that, which I use to this day, was that good, plus good, plus good, plus good does not necessarily equal better or even good. That the good things in the wrong combination… things that are good on their own in the wrong combination can actually produce something that's really disgusting. So when, certainly working in film, it is a principle that is always in the back of my head.

Born in 1943 in New York City, Murch graduated from the University of Southern California's School of Cinema-Television. His career stretches back to 1969 and includes work on Apocalypse Now, The Godfather I, II, and III, American Graffiti, The Conversation, and The English Patient. He has been referred to as 'the most respected film editor and sound designer in modern cinema.' In a career that spans over 40 years, Murch is perhaps best known for his collaborations with Francis Ford Coppola, beginning in 1969 with The Rain People. After working with George Lucas on THX 1138 (1971), which he co-wrote, and American Graffiti (1973), Murch returned to Coppola in 1974 for The Conversation, resulting in his first Academy Award nomination. Murch's pioneering achievements were acknowledged by Coppola in his follow-up film, the 1979 Palme d'Or winner Apocalypse Now, for which Murch was granted, in what is seen as a film-history first, the screen credit 'Sound Designer.' Murch has been nominated for nine Academy Awards and has won three, for best sound on Apocalypse Now (for which he and his collaborators devised the now-standard 5.1 sound format), and achieving an unprecedented double when he won both Best Film Editing and Best Sound for his work on The English Patient. Murch’s contributions to film reconstruction include 2001's Apocalypse Now: Redux and the 1998 re-edit of Orson Welles's Touch of Evil. He is also the director and co-writer of Return to Oz (1985). In 1995, Murch published a book on film editing, In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing, in which he urges editors to prioritise emotion.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: milk, chocolate syrup, Cheerios, peanut butter, combination

Duration: 1 minute, 55 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2016

Date story went live: 01 March 2017