Blanche Sewell

1898 – 1949

Blanche Sewell had hoped to work as an actress in Hollywood, but became a negative cutter and then an editor under the mentorship of Viola Lawrence. She started working at MGM in the early 1920s and remained there until her death in 1949. She has sixty-three credits. Sewell edited numerous notable films for MGM including Goulding’s Grand Hotel, Mamoulian’s Queen Christina, and The Wizard of Oz.

“[Producer] Mervyn LeRoy’s choice of Blanche Sewell to edit The Wizard of Oz was not by random selection. Skilled as she was, Sewell was also Walt Disney’s sister-in-law by marriage. (Blanche’s brother, Glenn Sewell, was married to Hazel Bounds, and Hazel’s sister was Disney’s wife, Lillian.) According to John Stanley Donaldson,* Disney surreptitiously consulted Sewell after hours from MGM while Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was edited. Sewell possessed, in Donaldson’s language, an infallible grasp of the emotion picture—an intuitive ability for cinematic pacing to strike the proper tempo and temperament. It was her insightful whittling that coalesced the best of Snow White’s artistic triumphs and shaped them into an instantly acclaimed motion picture masterpiece. LeRoy was hopeful Sewell would work such wizardry a second time.”
—“The Road to Oz: The Evolution, Creation and Legacy of a Motion Picture Masterpiece” by Jay Scarfone and William Stillman

* Donaldson was a protégé of Herb Ryman, one of Disney’s lead artists.