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

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