On the Coppola-produced Black Stallion (1979), starring Mickey Rooney in an Oscar-nominated performance, Dalva partnered with director Carroll Ballard, who also did second-unit work on 'Star Wars'
Representational images. Pic/iStock
Robert Dalva, the film editor who earned an Oscar nomination for his work on the family adventure 'The Black Stallion' has died. He collaborated with director Joe Johnston on five films, including 'Jumanji' and 'Captain America: The First Avenger'. He was 80.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Dalva died on Jan. 27 of lymphoma in Marin County, California.
Born in New York on April 14, 1942, Robert John Dalva booked movies for a film program while attending Colgate University. He took a film class most Fridays at Syracuse University, where he learnt how to run a camera.
After he graduated from Colgate in 1964, he spent three years at USC, where his classmates included Lucas, John Milius, Caleb Deschanel, Walter Murch and Randal Kleiser.
Right out of school, he landed a job with future Oscar-winning film editor Verna Fields (Jaws) at the U.S. Information Agency.
Dalva attended USC film school with George Lucas and went to work with him and Francis Ford Coppola in 1969 as the pair launched their innovative American Zoetrope production company in San Francisco.
The relationship paid off when Lucas hired Dalva to handle second-unit photography -- he shot the land speeder going across the desert -- on the original 'Star Wars' (1977), reported Hollywood Reporter.
On the Coppola-produced Black Stallion (1979), starring Mickey Rooney in an Oscar-nominated performance, Dalva partnered with director Carroll Ballard, who also did second-unit work on 'Star Wars'.
"We had almost a million feet of film," Dalva said in a 2012 interview. "A two-hour movie is about 12,000 feet. And the island section of the movie, which was about 37 minutes of the film, represented three-quarters of that million feet. So, the big battle was getting the island section down to a manageable length that made sense," reported the Hollywood Reporter.
Later, Dalva recalled, he was walking down the street near Zoetrope when "Francis pulled up in a taxicab and got out. And he said, 'Robert if there's a sequel to Black Stallion, you want to direct it?' And I said, 'Sure, Francis.'"
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The Black Stallion Returns (1983), shot in Italy and Morocco, marked the only feature Dalva directed. (He did helm episodes of Crime Story and Lucas' Clone Wars for television.)
In addition to Jumanji (1995) and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), Dalva edited the Johnston-directed October Sky (1999), Jurassic Park III (2001) and Hidalgo (2004). Coincidentally, Johnston worked on Star Wars, too, as an ILM representative for the film's miniature and optical effects unit.
Dalva's editing resume included Haskell Wexler's Latino (1985), Brian De Palma's Raising Cain (1992), Wayne Wang's The Joy Luck Club (1993), The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio (2005), Touching Home (2008), Immortals (2011), Lovelace (2014), Sweetwater (2015) and Heist (2015).
Dalva is survived by his wife, Marcia, whom he married in 1964; son Marshall; daughter Jessica; grandchildren Nathan, Zach, Luellen and Calvin; and brother Leon.
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