I have heard the Joni Mitchell song lyric that "You don't know what you got till its gone..." a million times in my life, and I have to say I truly feel that this applies to the great loss the Hollywood community suffered Wednesday night. Blake Edwards, the man responsible for such cinematic gems as Breakfast At Tiffany's, The Party, and the original Pink Panther film series (not that weak ass Steve Martin shit), passed away at age 88 from complications of pneumonia. He is survived by his superstar wife Julie Andrews and his five children.
|On the set of Breakfast at Tiffany's
While most people have seen (or at least heard of) Breakfast at Tiffany's, I don't think people truly realize just how important Blake Edwards was to movie making over the last 50 years. He is my second favorite director ever (no one will ever surpass Kubrick for me...), but he is single handely responsible for turning my all time favorite actor, Peter Sellers, into the mega star he became. Through comedy classics like The Party, and the 5 Pink Panther movies that he made with Sellers, he allowed my favorite actor of all time to create comedy in a way that had never been done before... he was the perfect balance to Sellers insanity. For a good insight into their wild relationship, I recommend the HBO Films The Life and Times Of Peter Sellers. It stars Geoffrey Rush as Sellers and John Lithgow as Edwards, and it is fantastic.
|Sellers & Edwards Practicing Technique
The style and texture of Edwards work is nothing short of genius, but I will spare all the technical aspects on why he was so great for another post. In short, the thing that made Blake Edwards such a phenomenal director is that he always got THE BEST PERFORMANCE out of his stars. Not only the best performance that they could give at that time, often it was the best performances that they would give IN THEIR ENTIRE CAREERS. Think about this for a second, and take a look at this list of the stars and what they made with Edwards:
- Peter Sellers in The Pink Panther series was by far his best role of his career and set the stage for multiple parts acted by a single actor in one film like Eddie Murphy and Mike Myers.
- Audrey Hepburn will forever be Holly Go Lightly from Breakfast at Tiffany's, and although she made some phenomenal movies most consider this one of her best performances.
- Julie Andrews, Blake's wife, is mostly known for her starring turn in Victoria/Victoria.
- 10 and Micki & Maude are two of the highlights of Dudley Moore's career (along with Arthur), and 10 is definitely the top performance of Bo Dereks career.
- Richard Mulligan was a huge TV star from the shows Soap & Empty Nest, but his best silver screen performance comes opposite Andrews protraying a character based on Blake Edwards himself in S.O.B.
|Sellers & Edwards... the great collaborators
Forgeting the rest of his magnificient film career, just the Pink Panther series alone would have been enough to garuntee his status among the all time Hollywood elite. Between the Henry Mancini score (Honestly, who do you know that can't name the trademark Pink Panther music?), the inclusion of a cartoon for the opening sequence that became so popular it won it's own Academy Award for an animated feature (1964), and the launching of the aforementioned Sellers career, you would be hard pressed to fnd a more important film series. Sellers performance would lay the groundwork for bungling cops like Leslie Nielsen's Frank Drebin & Mike Myers Austin Powers. The movies are pure genius, with my all time favorite movie being The Pink Panther Strikes Again. It is pure comedic perfection and in my mind one of the best film of the series.
|Oscar Gold... Finally!!!
The thing that I regret most about Blake Edwards passing is that he is compeltely underappreciated. He never recieved an Oscar, a Golden Globe, or an Emmy (he did recieve a honorary Oscar in 2004 for his career contribution). I also regret that I never got to meet him. I have met a bunch of celebrities in my life time. I've had drinks with Diddy, shook hands with Derek Jeter, and interviewed Caroll (Big Bird) Spinney for this blog... yet I never had a chance to actually come across Edwards. My favorite actor, Sellers, was dead long before I could ever hope to meet him. Same for Kubrick. Sure, there are tons of celebs I would like to meet, but honestly Edwards would have topped the cake. And to be honest, if I would have met him, I would have only said one thing: "Thank You. Thank You so very much for all you have done... without your films, I wouldn't be the movie geek I am today." Thats it. Short and sweet.
So, on that note, Rest In Peace Blake... its time for you to really enjoy life upstairs with your boy Peter & the beautiful Audrey. Maybe someday up there I will come across you... and if I do, believe me I will say whats up!!!
|Blake & Wife Julie Andrews