Saturday, December 18, 2010

Blake Edwards (RIP)

Mrs & Mrs Blake Edwards (1974)
Our heart goes out to the divine Julie Andrews in what is surely a difficult time as her husband the writer/director Blake Edwards passed away a few days ago. We apologize for the delay in honoring him. Edwards was long beloved and praised for his comic sensibilities as a writer and director, most famously within The Pink Panther series starring Peter Sellers.

What was less often noted is that he was often responsible for shining a flattering light on actresses, no matter your feelings about him getting Julie out of her clothing. His late career efforts in this realm (Ellen Barkin in Switch and Kim Basinger in Blind Date) weren't as magical as his earlier work but he had a hand in big moments in the careers of Natalie Wood and Audrey Hepburn and was absolutely crucial to Julie Andrews career.

Blake and Natalie Wood in 1965
If you haven't seen many of his pictures, program yourself a festival at home with these highlights.
  • Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) the most universally beloved Audrey Hepburn movie.
  • The Pink Panther (1963) though any in the series will do. My favorite as a wee toddler was the one where Sellers is wearing a facial disguise that melts and his nose starts dripping. Anyone remember which in the series that was?
  • The Great Race (1965) Check out how jaw droppingly gorgeous Natalie Wood is in this all-star comedy. Some consider it the peak of her beauty.
  • "10" (1979) A massive hit when it appeared making Bo Derek and Dudley Moore incredibly famous. Julie Andrews co-stars.
  • Victor/Victoria (1982)-You know this one already. Watch it again. Isn't it one of the most rewatchable films ever?
  • And maybe end with one of his other collaborations with wife Julie Andrews. He directed her frequently. I didn't personally like their last film together That's Life (1986) but you could try Darling Lili (1970) a war film where Julie sings and is paired with Rock Hudson or  The Tamarind Seed (1974) where Julie is romanced by Omar Shariff or their infamous showbiz satire S.O.B. (1981). Though moviegoers who liked Julie Andrews abso-squeaky clean sometimes resented her husband for his playful and frisky remolding of his wife's image whether that was striptease musical numbers or gender bending (clips from Darling Lili and Victor/Victoria follow), Julie herself obviously enjoyed it.
Julie Andrews in S.O.B. (1981)

 As is true with most comedically gifted filmmakers, Edwards had to wait for an honorary Oscar late in life rather than win one in competition. He was only nominated once, for the screenplay to the wonderful gender-bending farce Victor/Victoria (1982) which happens to be the last musical hurrah of Julie Andrews. Along with Breakfast at Tiffany's it will undoubtedly live forever.

A dream maker and heart taker, indeed.

Related post: A History of... Julie Andrews


Waldemar Lopes said...

What a nice piece of writing this is about the great Blake Edwards, master of comedy and farce and one of the rare filmmakers who, along with Woody Allen and Almodóvar, writes, directs and produces. What made him even more outstanding was his desire for taking risks and succeeding in being provocative, doing westerns, dramas, musicals and even having his wife, the amazing, talented and gorgeous Julie Andrews undress in SOB, which was not only delicious but also showed that he was very generous to his and her fans! And man, did Julie look great in that acid satire of the industry! He was a genius and made us laugh and think about life at the same time. Julie Andrews had wonderful cinematic moments with her husband, especially in the crowning achievement which was Victor/Victoria, always a joy to watch. I particularly love Darling Lili - and I am not alone, read Leonard Maltin's review. Their legendary marriage incredibly spanned four decades , all the time combining the extraordinary sound of Julie with that of Henry Mancini, . What a glorious body of work the great Edwards left us as his legacy.Thank you for the laughs, Mr. Edwards, and for the tears among them.

adri said...

I've seen 16 of Blake Edward's films. My favorite is "Victor/Victoria", which as you say, is eminently re-watchable. The cast is so great and Julie is perfection.

I also like some of the 1960s comedies like "A Shot in the Dark" which was recently on TV and is surprisingly funny. I also liked "What Did You Do in the War Daddy?" as I love James Coburn in a comedy (so sexy, so tall, so graceful).

Ruth said...

Our whole cinema studies class went in to mourning. We studied his films during our Authorship and Narrative course. I can honesty say S.O.B and Victor/Victoria are two of my favourite films. Great director. I'm glad I was able to come to appreciate his work.

Eva Moos said...

I feel very sorry for Julie Andrews as well and feel a lot like watching Victor, Victoria tonight. Thanks for this great post.


glad to hear from soem Blake Edwards fans out there.

adri -- i've never seen that one. should investigate.

Dave in Alamitos Beach said...

Gee, Blake looks downright handsome in those photos. Who knew?

I recently watched The Great Race and, even though the film is uneven, I loved it as a kid and Natalie wore the period clothes very, very well.

I tried to watch Tamarind Seed a while back via Netflix (I have a thing for Julie AND Omar) and they don't have it. Is it even out on DVD?