James Elmo Williams (born April 30, 1913) is an American film and television editor, producer, director, and executive. His work on the film High Noon (1952) received the Academy Award for Film Editing. In 2006, Williams published Elmo Williams: A Hollywood Memoir.
Among the films that Williams edited are High Noon (1952), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), and The Vikings (1958). Williams was involved in the production of The Longest Day (1962) and Cleopatra (1963), and he was a producer of the film Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970). From 1971-74 Williams was the Head of Production for 20th Century Fox.
Williams edited the film Design for Death (1947), which won an Academy Award for Documentary Feature. Williams won the Academy Award for Film Editing for his work on 1952's High Noon (directed by Fred Zinneman and co-edited with Harry Gerstad), and was nominated again for 1954's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (directed by Richard Fleischer).
The editing of High Noon is probably Williams' most studied accomplishment. Critic James Berardinelli wrote, "High Noon's tension comes through Kane's desperation, aided in no small part by Elmo Williams' brilliant editing as the clock ticks down to twelve. For a motion picture with so little action, the suspense builds to almost unbearable levels." In his memoir, Williams states that this well-known montage was specifically edited to match the music composed for the scene by Dimitri Tiomkin.
Williams was credited as associate producer and coordinator of battle episodes on The Longest Day (1962). He was also an uncredited second unit director. He later produced another historical WWII film Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), also for Darryl F. Zanuck.
Williams has been elected to membership in the American Cinema Editors (ACE). In 1971, Williams was honored with the ACE "Golden Eddie" award as Filmmaker of the Year. In 1990, Williams received the ACE Career Achievement Award; he was among the first six editors to be honored with this award.
In 1940, he married Lorraine Williams, who died in 2004. They adopted two daughters and a son. The couple retired to Brookings, Oregon, on the Oregon Coast in 1983. In December 2008, Williams donated a public chapel to the city in memory of his wife. The chapel is located in Azalea Park in Brookings.
William's brother Burch Williams was killed in a mid-air collision between an Alouette helicopter owned by Lynn Garrison and an SE5 over Wicklow, Ireland, on August 18, 1970, during filming of Owen Crump's production Zeppelin.
Williams continues to be active in community theater. A two-act play he authored concerning the humorous effects of aging called "The Corner Pocket" was performed at the Chetco Playhouse in Brookings, Oregon, in October 2010. He turned 100 in April 2013.
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