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Blake Edwards 1922 - 2010


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This is so sad. The man was a legend. Poor Julie! :(


Writer-director Blake Edwards passed away this morning at age 88. The filmmaker was regarded as a modern master of contemporary film comedy via such movies as "The Pink Panther" series and "10."


Edwards has been compared favorably to other outstanding comedy auteurs such as Leo McCarey, Preston Sturges and Frank Tashlin. His slapstick visual style combined the best elements of silent comedy and a post-Freudian storyline, with an undercurrent of pain. "I would not be able to get through life had I not been able to view its painfulness in a comedic way," he once told a reporter. "So when I put life up there on the screen, quite often it resembles things that happen to me or at least comic metaphors for those things."


While the quality of his 50 or so films as writer, director and producer, was irregular, critical champions found good even in his most indifferent projects such as the then financially disastrous musical "Darling Lili" starring his wife Julie Andrews. They also point to early films such as "Days of Wine and Roses," "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "Experiment in Terror," as demonstrating an often overlooked versatility.


But the boxoffice success of his "Pink Panther" series more than once revived Edwards' career. He is best remembered for that series of slapstick farces starring Peter Sellers as the bumbling French detective Inspector Clouseau.


His later comedies, however, offer both laughs and introspection, particularly "10," a musing on male mid-life crisis starring Dudley Moore -- Edwards' biggest boxoffice success. There was also his viotriolic Hollywood satire "S.O.B." and sexual-identity farces such as "Victor/Victoria," "Switch" and "Skin Deep."


Edwards was born in Tulsa, Okla., on July 26, 1922. But his family moved to Los Angeles when he was three and his films were often set against a Southern California backdrop both physically and psychologically. "Edwards' movies are slick and glossy," wrote George Morris in Film Comment, "but their shiny surfaces reflect all too accurately the disposable values of contemporary life.


As part of what he describes as a "dysfunctional" family, Edwards was raised primarily by his mother and his step-father Jack McEdward, a Hollywood production manager. He did not meet his biological father until he was 40, an experience he described as interesting, but also unfortunate. "I never should have opened that Pandora's Box." It is no coincidence that a sadness runs through even his most comedic work, or that the subject matter of his films sometimes spring from Edwards' many years in analysis.


After graduating Beverly Hills High, Edwards worked briefly in front of the camera in such films as "Ten Gentlemen from West Point" and "In the Meantime, Darling." In 1946, Edwards co-wrote a Western "Panhandle" and produced it for Monogram Pictures for $400,000, starring Rod Cameron and Edwards himself in a small role. He later created the radio series Richard Diamond, Private Detective" for actor Dick Powell which was followed by other radio serials including "Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar" and "The Line-Up."


Paired with director Richard Quine, Edwards wrote low budget musical comedies for Columbia including "Cruisin' Down the River" and "All Ashore" and the musical version of "My Sister Eileen."


The well-received melodrama "Drive a Crooked Road," helped Edwards land his first directing assignments. His first two films for singer Frankie Laine, "Bring Your Smile" and "He Laughed Last" were no laughing matters. But with a Tony Curtis vehicle, "Mister Cory," Edwards began to show some promise behind the camera.


But it was the hugely successful and influential TV series "Peter Gunn," with its jazzy Henry Mancini score that established Edwards and led to such major comedy film successes as "The Perfect Furlough" and "Operation Petticoat." Another TV series "Mr. Lucky," was also a success, while "Dante's Inferno" was less so.


Edwards got a major break when John Frankenheimer dropped out of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and Audrey Hepburn consented to him as her director. Working with George Axelrod's adaptation of Truman Capote's novella, Edwards created a bubbly comedy/drama that was a major critical and boxoffice hit. His work on "Experiment in Terror" and the alcoholism drama "Days of Wine and Roses" was also highly commended. The latter earned Oscar nominations for its stars Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick.


The 1964 comedy "The Pink Panther" however, steered Edwards toward slapstick comedy, a course from which he rarely veered (and then with poor results such as "The Carey Treatment" and "The Tamarind Seed"). The original and a well received quick follow-up "A Shot in the Dark," allowed Edwards a wide berth in Hollywood.


Unfortunately, his work over the next few years such as "What Did You Do in the War Daddy? and the over-inflated "The Great Race" and "Darling Lili" received mixed reviews and did not take off at the boxoffice.


It wasn't until 1974 with "Return of the Pink Panther" and its sequels, that Edwards was back on track. These films evidence Edwards' style at its farcical best, elaborate set pieces usually shot in long takes allowing the comedic momentum to build to a visual punch line -- and often beyond.


Although he and Sellers often clashed, the pairing was of mutual benefit and continued unabated until the actor's death. Attempts to follow-up on "Clouseau" in live action (The Pink Panther himself worked in animation), largely disappointed though Edwards successfully blocked MGM/UA from appropriating the concept.


The hilarious and thoughtful "10," brought Edwards his best notices and is regarded as a quintessential example of his art.


"A movie as personal in its way as 'Apocalypse Now,' " is how Newsweek critic David Ansen assessed the film starring Moore and Andrews, "a bittersweet comedy about a man whose voyeurism prevents him from seeing himself."


His misanthropic "S.O.B." was well received by critics, less so at the box office. With Andrews, Robert Preston and James Garner and music by Henry Mancini, Edwards again scored with the period gender/bending comedy "Victor/Victoria."


"S.O.B." was followed by lesser comedies such as "Micki and Maude," "Blind Date," "The Man Who Loved Women," "Switch" and "Skin Deep," all of which have moments of admirable sustained comedy.


Edwards was married to his first wife, Patricia, for fourteen years. They had a daughter Jennifer and a son Geoffrey. In 1969, he married Andrews and the couple adopted two Vietnamese orphans Amy Leigh and Joanna Lynn.


Andrews and his children were at his bedside at his passing.



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This hit me very hard knowing Julie will be hurting. It is ironic they were showing "Experiment In Terror" on TCM the other morning. I saw this film for the very first time. I remember going to see "Victor/Victoria" when it was first released. "The Great Race", "A Shot In The Dark", the list goes on. He gave the best in film entertainment. Again, it is very very sad to lose him. :(

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This hit me very hard knowing Julie will be hurting. It is ironic they were showing "Experiment In Terror" on TCM the other morning. I saw this film for the very first time. I remember going to see "Victor/Victoria" when it was first released. "The Great Race", "A Shot In The Dark", the list goes on. He gave the best in film entertainment. Again, it is very very sad to lose him. :(

I know, they showed Experiment also a few mnths ago and i recorded it then, loved it when i first saw it years ago, great movie, he was as great in drama as he was in those iconic Inspector Clousseau comedies. Lee Remick, a great actress who was in Experiment was also in his masterpiece, Days of Wine and Roses about alcoholism and of course Breakfast at Tiffany's with the great Audrey Hepburn is a classic also.

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