Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Friday, December 17, 2010

Fare thee well, Blake Edwards

Another sad loss to the pop culture world occurred this week as renowned director Blake Edwards passed away at the age of 88. Mr. Edwards' body of work extended over four decades and worked with a number of incredible entertainers yet his most official acknowledgment from Hollywood was an honorary Oscar presented to him in 2004.

Edwards was truly one of the last old school satirists who many felt had his best days in the seventies yet even after that time had passed,Blake had a few tricks in his bag that gave audiences a good time had by all. In honor of this fabulously talented gentleman,let us take a brief tour of his most memorable movies:


While Edwards had some of his early work for TV see some success(he created the detective series Peter Gunn,with the theme music provided by future longtime collaborator Henry Mancini),film was where he yearned to go. He did make a few serious dramas such as The Days of Wine & Roses but comedy was Edwards' true calling.

A hallmark film for him was Breakfast at Tiffany's,based loosely on Truman Capote's tale of goofy glam girl Holly Golightly who was played to perfection by Audrey Hepburn.

Despite the changes to the source material and the regrettable casting of Mickey Rooney(the less said about that the better),this charming movie is considered an iconic piece of New York allure and how many people are drawn to it's bright lights that can burn as well as illuminate your way:


During the 1970s,the most popular series of comedy films that Edwards did were the Pink Panther capers,starring Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau,a bumbling French detective always on the trail of the elusive diamond thief of the title but prat falling far behind his prey.

Sellers and Edwards made five complete Pink Panther films(the sixth, 1982's Trail of the Pink Panther mostly took outtakes to patchwork the final production due to Sellers' death a few years earlier)and are loaded with gems of hilarity that any comedic performer should study as part of their training in this not as easy as it looks craft.

Steve Martin attempted to revive the character in a movie of his own back in 2006 but it was obvious that like James Bond,nobody does Closeau better than Sellers and Edwards did in their day:


Another regular actor on the Blake Edwards circuit was Dudley Moore,with their best known film being the sexy satire of middle age lust "10",a film also infamous for introducing Bo Derek to the pop culture realm in all of her cornrowed glory.

However,in the midst of the eighties,Moore starred in a rather sweetly silly romantic triangle of a film called Micki & Maude,with Ann Reinking as his character's wife with a promising political career and low fertility rate. Amy Irving was Maude,an up and coming cellist who he falls in love with and wants to marry once she gets pregnant.

However,as he is about to ask Micki for a divorce,she tells him that she's finally with child and winds up a befuddled bigamist,keeping both ladies in the dark for as long as possible. Not many folks could make a situation like this charming or such a leading man seem worth rooting for,yet Moore and Edwards were two great talents that worked well together:


The best player on Blake Edwards' team,some would say,was his wife Julie Andrews who appeared in quite a few of his films both as supporting and lead actress.

Julie's squeaky clean image was often tweaked by her husband,especially in the dark humor of the scorching satire S.O.B. and while a few may have thought she was just being a good trooper about that,you can tell that Julie relished the opportunity to break out of that sugary shell folks wanted her to stay in.

Their greatest pairing was in 1982's Victor/Victoria,where a desperate for work singer in 1930s Paris teams up with another out of work entertainer(the delightful Robert Preston) to become a "woman impersonating a man impersonating a woman" as her way into show business.

That routine makes her famous but holds up her love life,particularly when a shady nightclub owner from America(James Garner)has his eye on her/him. Victor/Victoria became such a well loved modern comedy classic that it was turned into a Broadway musical in 1995 and while it is a remake of a 1933 German film,Julie and Blake truly made this bit of le jazz hot sizzle with their own original spark:

This upcoming Monday night,TCM plans to air a marathon of Blake Edwards films,including a couple that I've mentioned in this post. If you haven't seen any of his work,this is a nice prime time opportunity to do so. Many of Edwards' films are also available on DVD and should fill up your rental list rather nicely during the doldrums of midwinter reruns.

Blake Edwards,like any other artist,had his fair share of hits and misses over the years. Yet he leaves behind a lasting legacy of laughter that any filmmaker would give their body part of choice to put on their resume. Our condolences to his family and friends who will undoubtedly miss him more than they can say and missed he will be in the hearts of moviegoers. Fare thee well,sir,fare thee well indeed:

1 comment:

Laurel Ann (Austenprose) said...

Incredible talent. I enjoyed so many of his movies. Breakfast at Tiffanys is a treasure. Thanks for the lovely tribute.