Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with some uncool news. In a year already sadly rich with the passings of some of the industry’s most talented performers and craftsmen, we now have word of the death of Blake Edwards.
With his wife of 42 years, Julie Andrews, at his side Edwards died yesterday from complications due to pneumonia at the age of 88.
I spent most of my teen years ignorant of Edwards’ work even if I knew his name. It actually wasn’t until my run of A Movie A Days that I finally dove into his filmography, blazing through every one of The Pink Panther films and another Peter Sellers collaboration called The Party.
Upon viewing these movies I was hit with a kind of awe at his ability to be kinda flashy as a filmmaker yet totally childish in his humor. Think of the opening of A Shot In The Dark, for instance. It’s a long, intricate and hilarious piece of storytelling as we see the near miss of a husband greeting a cheating wife all from a series of shadows through windows and silhouettes on walkways. Then we see a murder in like fashion, now having been witness to all the suspects and circumstance surrounding it. It’s a text book example of visual comedy and visual storytelling.
Edwards was a more diverse director than he’ll likely get credit for. He did a fine thriller in 1962 called EXPERIMENT IN TERROR starring the great Glenn Ford and Lee Remick that crafts suspenseful tension just as easily as he wields slapstick in his Sellers comedies.
He also adapted Truman Capote’s BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S and took the lovely Audrey Hepburn from being a star to an icon. Edwards also worked with his wife quite a lot in films like Darling Lili, The Tamarind Seed, S.O.B. (which is the biggie of his that I haven’t seen yet) and Victor/Victoria. In every example of that collaboration I’ve seen Andrews seemed to be totally at ease, a natural rhythm more than evident in every frame.
If you haven’t already explored Edwards’ filmography, I highly suggest devoting your weekend to it. From the insane (and politically incorrect) spectacle of THE PARTY to the more or less consistent hilarity of the Pink Panther films (my personal favorite being THE PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN just because Herbert Lom gets to be front and center) to male fantasy spoof 10 and the epic live-action cartoon comedy THE GREAT RACE, which pre-dates Wacky Races by a good 3 years, there’s so much to explore.
My thoughts are with Mr. Edwards’ friends, family and fans. His unique voice will be missed.