Peter Tanner, 88, an aspiring jazz drummer who turned his attention to the rhythm of film editing and crafted such classic British films as "Scott of the Antarctic," "Kind Hearts and Coronets," "The Blue Lamp" and "The Cruel Sea," died Dec. 10 at a hospital near his home outside London. He had a stroke last year.
The English-born Mr. Tanner's heyday was the 1940s and 1950s at Ealing studios. He later worked with U.S. directors Robert Aldrich and John Cassavetes and on the television series "The Avengers."
He collaborated with John Irvin on "Turtle Diary" (1985), the heralded Vietnam War drama "Hamburger Hill" (1987) and "Widows' Peak" (1994) with Mia Farrow and Joan Plowright.
Mike Le-Mare, a supervisory sound editor who worked on the renowned "Blowup" and "Das Boot," said Mr. Tanner "worked wonders" at Ealing. "Those were movies that still go down in history now," he said. "He helped make a lot of them work. His timing was impeccable, especially in comedy."
His last film was John Hough's drama "Something to Believe In" (1998).
Peter Ralph Eyre Tanner was a drummer and stockbroker before a friend let him know about a position at 20th Century Fox's British studios at Wembley. His job: tea boy.
He worked his way into the editing room and lent his editing skills to the British ministry of information during World War II. He worked on propaganda efforts.
Michael Balcon, production chief at Ealing, hired him after the war as a feature film editor. His first project was "Scott of the Antarctic" (1948). The color film used studio and authentic location shots, which Mr. Tanner helped make indistinguishable.
"Kind Hearts and Coronets" (1949), considered one of the greatest black comedies ever made, had Alec Guinness as multiple members of an aristocratic family all killed off by a distant relative (Dennis Price) hoping to attain a dukeship. With exemplary timing, Mr. Tanner incorporated Price's devilish voice-overs in a way that captured the film's humorous core.
In "The Cruel Sea" (1953), he showed his virtuousity with brisk cuts as a wartime ship captain decides whether to depth charge the water around him -- even if other Allied seamen may be alive in the sea.
His interest in jazz led to a friendship with Cassavetes, for whom Mr. Tanner worked on "Husbands" (1970).
He continued traveling worldwide to music festivals and contributing jazz reviews to music magazines.
Survivors include two sons from the first of his two marriages; and three stepdaughters.