Closing Credits: Blake Edwards
Blake Edwards has died aged 88, and has left behind him a string of fantastic films and one of the most iconic characters of comedy ever created, Inspector Clouseau, a character he gave seven films to.
Just a quick mention of his name brings to mind some great films from A Shot in the Dark to 10, from Breakfast at Tiffany's to The Great Race, and one of my personal favourites, Skin Deep.
Working with names such as Peter Sellers, Dudley Moore, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, George Peppard, Audrey Hepburn, Herbert Lom, James Garner, Omar Sharif, John Ritter, and so many more, not to mention his wife Julie Andrews.
Blake Edwards began as an actor with his first film appearance in 1942 and his last in 1948 carrying through some twenty nine films. He appeared in a number of recognisable titles such as A Guy Named Joe and Wing and a Prayer, with his last appearance in the film Loser Take All.
After his acting phase he began writing, and looking back it seems strange to realise that he began writing westerns. Panhandle, in which he also starred for his penultimate acting role, and Stampede which he also produced, another string to his bow. He would write and produce for the rest of his career.
He took to directing in 1954 with the television series Four Star Theatre, and it was only the following year that he took to feature films with Bring Your Smile Along which he co-wrote. Unsurprisingly it was a comedy, and a musical, and it was comedy that was to feature prominently throughout his career.
The Guardian brought my attention to Operation Petticoat which he directed Cary Grant and Tony Curtis in 1959, only his sixth feature film, but a big one that marked him as a comedy director and saw Curtis appearing next to his big screen idol for the first time.
It was only two years before he made Breakfast at Tiffany's in 1961, the role which George Peppard should be remembered for playing alongside Audrey Hepburn in that iconic role and film.
Leap forward two years and three films and we meet Inspector Clouseau for the first time in The Pink Panther, Peter Sellers iconic character, and the long running, seven film association that perhaps went on a little too long for all involved. 1982 saw the release of Trail of the Pink Panther and Curse of the Pink Panther, using out-takes and deleted scenes of Peter Sellers from the previous Pink Panther films.
That film raised a law suit from the widow of Sellers claiming that the makers of the film had damaged his reputation and career by making the film and she won over a million dollars. That said Blake Edwards had said that before Sellers died he had:
”...became a monster. He just got bored with the part and became angry, sullen and unprofessional.”
However during the run of the Pink Panther films the two also filmed The Party, a rather quirky comedy that saw Sellers far from the Clouseau role; What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?, a comedy written by William Peter Blatty and starring James Coburn; a drama called Darling Lili starring Rock Hudson and Julie Andrews and written by himself and William Peter Blatty; Wild Rovers which saw a return to his western beginnings, and The Carey Treatment, a thriller adapted from the Michael Crichton novel.
Suddenly there's a lot more to the man than Pink Panther and mid-life crisis comedy.
In 1979 came the start of the mid-life crisis films from Edwards with the most successful and biggest, 10. Starring Dudley Moore, Julie Andrews, Bo Derek, Robert Webber, Dee Wallace, Sam J. Jones and Brian Dennehy, 10 delivered some iconic moments, and I don't just mean the arrival of Derek.
The Man Who Loved Women starring Burt Reynolds was the next of these films and was a remake of Francois Truffaut's 1977 film The Man Who Loved Women. That's Life with Jack Lemmon and Julie Andrews was another in 1986, and Skin Deep in 1989 starring John Ritter was another, and one of my favourites, although to be fair it's a while since I've seen it.
Julie Andrews, as you guessed by now, featured in many of his films and her roles in Victor Victoria and S.O.B. were ones which stand out as rather different roles for the actress. S.O.B. carried another great cast of Julie Andrews, William Holden, Robert Webber, Larry Hagman, Loretta Swit, Robert Vaughn, Shelley Winters, Rosanna Arquette, Richard Mulligan and Robert Preston.
Micki + Maude saw Dudley Moore return, and Bruce Willis appeared in Blind Date with Kim Bassinger and Sunset with another great list of names including James Garner, Malcolm McDowell, Mariel Hemingway, Kathleen Quinlan and M. Emmet Walsh.
It's interesting looking at the cast lists of his films as you see names he worked with before popping up time and time again, and it seems if you've been in one Blake Edwards film you're very likely to have appeared in another. He did appear to favour actors, and actors favoured him for he always seems to draw in a good list of actors for many of his films.
However he will be most known for the Pink Panther films and his excellent work with Peter Sellers, often over shadowing and hiding the fact that he directed Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends and our memories are with some incredibly funny and poignant moments in his films.