The Round Table (Rational Pagans Forum)

Science & The Supernatural: A Discussion of the World Around us - Based on Science with an Interest in the Supernatural ...
It is currently 11 Aug 2020, 10:31

All times are UTC - 5 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 1 post ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: 16 Dec 2010, 20:06 
Offline
Grand Poobah
User avatar

Joined: 18 Sep 2007, 11:26
Posts: 5793
Location: Buffalo, NY
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/17/movie ... .html?_r=2

Quote:
Blake Edwards, a writer and director who became a Hollywood master of screwball farces and rude comedies like “Victor/Victoria” and the “Pink Panther” movies, died Wednesday night in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 88.
Enlarge This Image

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
The filmmaker Blake Edwards after receiving an honorary Oscar in 2004.
Related

ArtsBeat Blog: Blake Edwards, Prolific Comedy Director, Dies at 88 (December 16, 2010)

His publicist, Gene Schwam, said the cause was complications of pneumonia. Mr. Edwards’s wife, the actress Julie Andrews, and other family members were at his side at St. John’s Health Center, Mr. Schwam said.

What the critic Pauline Kael once described as Mr. Edwards’s “love of free-for-all lunacy” was flaunted in good movies and bad ones: in commercial successes like “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961) and “The Pink Panther” (1963) — the first of a series of films starring Peter Sellers as a bumbling French policeman — and in box-office disasters like the musical spy extravaganza “Darling Lili” (1970), starring Ms. Andrews.

Mr. Edwards’s last major success, “Victor/Victoria” (1982), was a farce about a starving singer (Ms. Andrews) who pretends to be a homosexual Polish count who performs as a female impersonator. Mr. Edwards received an Academy Award nomination for his “Victor/Victoria” screenplay, which was adapted from a 1933 German film written and directed by Reinhold Schünzel. It was his only Oscar nomination. But he was given an honorary award by the Motion Picture Academy in 2004 for his “extraordinary body of work.” That work spanned more than four decades.

After writing several zany comic soufflés, including “Operation Mad Ball” (1957), for the director Richard Quine, Mr. Edwards began directing his own light and buoyant comedies, including “This Happy Feeling” (1958), “The Perfect Furlough” (1958) and “Operation Petticoat” (1959). He later turned his comedy to the dark side in films in which middle-aged male protagonists — unlucky womanizers, artists at the end of their creative tethers — are just one banana peel away from disaster.

The critic Andrew Sarris wrote in 1968 that Mr. Edwards had gotten “some of his biggest laughs out of jokes that are too gruesome for most horror films.”

Those jokes include a long sequence in which Tony Curtis embarks on a slapstick three-continent car marathon in “The Great Race” (1965); a desperate Peter Sellers is unable to find a bathroom in “The Party” (1968); Burt Reynolds’s death while staring at the legs of a nurse in “The Man Who Loved Women” (1983); and nearly every incident in “S.O.B.” (1981), a movie in which Mr. Edwards takes an ax dipped in cyanide to the movie industry, which alternately embraced and spurned him.

After a series of critical and box-office failures in the late 1960s and early ’70s, Mr. Edwards spent several years in self-imposed exile in London and Switzerland. He returned to write and direct three “Pink Panther” movies between 1975 and 1978, followed by the unexpected critical and commercial success of “10” (1979). One of his most personal films, “10,” starred Dudley Moore as a composer whose 42nd birthday causes a whopping midlife crisis and an obsession with a beautiful young woman, played by Bo Derek, whom he considers a perfect 10.

A lifelong depressive, Mr. Edwards told The New York Times in 2001 that at one point his depression was so bad that he became “seriously suicidal.” After deciding that shooting himself would be too messy and drowning too uncertain, he decided to slit his wrists on the beach at Malibu while looking at the ocean. But while he was holding a two-sided razor, his Great Dane started licking his ear, and his retriever, eager for a game of fetch, dropped a ball in his lap. Attempting to get the dog to go away, Mr. Edwards threw the ball, dropped the razor and dislocated his shoulder. “So I think to myself,” he said, “this just isn’t a day to commit suicide.” Trying to retrieve the razor, he stepped on it and ended up in the emergency room.

If that was a shaggy-dog story, it was also the kind of black farce that filled Mr. Edwards’s later films. These movies were often on the far edge of comedy, where sexual pain and sexual pleasure are mixed with politically incorrect stereotypes and a bleak worldview to make audiences laugh and squirm at the same time. In “S.O.B.” a movie director cannot successfully commit suicide but is killed just when his failed movie has been turned into a box-office smash, and an elderly man who has a heart attack on the beach lies dead on the sand for two days, ignored by everyone except his faithful dog.

Blake Edwards was born William Blake Crump on July 26, 1922, in Tulsa, Okla. He became Blake McEdwards when he was 4, after his mother, Lilian, had married Jack McEdwards, an assistant director and movie production manager. Having joined the Coast Guard after high school, Mr. Edwards was seriously injured when, after a night of alcohol-fueled partying, he drunkenly dived into a shallow swimming pool. He spent five months in traction at the Long Beach Naval Hospital.

“That particular mix of pain and pratfall is the trademark of all the great Blake Edwards comedies,” Vanity Fair wrote of his accident and of the ironic consequence that Eleanor Roosevelt, who was visiting the hospital, solicitously asked how he had been wounded.

Briefly under contract to 20th Century Fox as an actor, Mr. Edwards played bit parts in more than two dozen movies between 1942 and 1948, usually without screen credit. He was a cadet in “Ten Gentlemen From West Point,” an airman in “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo” and a soldier in “The Best Years of Our Lives.” In the late 1940s, having switched to writing, he created the “Richard Diamond” radio series, which starred Dick Powell as a lighthearted detective. Mr. Edwards segued from radio to writing and eventually directing for Mr. Powell’s television anthology series, “Four Star Playhouse.”

In 1958, Mr. Edwards created “Peter Gunn,” a jazz-soaked television detective series that was his first collaboration with the composer Henry Mancini, who would score almost all of Mr. Edwards’s films for the next 30 years. All four of Mr. Mancini’s Oscars were for music written for Blake Edwards movies: the score and the original song “Moon River” (lyrics by Johnny Mercer) from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”; the title song from “Days of Wine and Roses” (1962), again with lyrics by Mercer; and the score of “Victor/Victoria,” written with Leslie Bricusse.

Although Mr. Edwards is known for his comedies, one of his most successful films was “Days of Wine and Roses,” a harrowing drama about an alcoholic couple. According to Mr. Edwards’s commentary on the DVD of the movie — which was based on a “Playhouse 90” television play by J. P. Miller and starred Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick — Mr. Lemmon, whom Mr. Edwards often said was his favorite actor, felt that the material was so bleak, it needed a director who could inject some humor.

Both men were drinking hard in 1962. When he stopped drinking about a year later, “the film had as much to do with it as anything did,” he told The Times in 2001.

Mr. Edwards’s string of successful movies ended in the late 1960s, as did his first marriage, to the actress Patricia Walker. His marriage to Ms. Andrews, the Academy Award-winning musical comedy star, sprouted a year after his divorce. At the time, Ms. Andrews’s public image was of the endlessly cheerful governess she had played in “The Sound of Music.” According to a joint interview the couple gave Playboy in 1982, Mr. Edwards, who had never met Ms. Andrews, wowed a party crowd that was speculating on the reason for her phenomenal success. “I can tell you exactly what it is,” he said. “She has lilacs for pubic hair.” Ms. Andrews sent Mr. Edwards a lilac bush shortly after they started dating, and their marriage lasted 41 years.

The early 1970s were not kind to either of them. “Darling Lili” was a bloated box-office bomb. And what Mr. Edwards called his first “personal” film, the western “Wild Rovers” (1971), was cut to ribbons by the president of MGM, James Aubrey. Then Mr. Aubrey took over the editing of Mr. Edwards’s next picture, “The Carey Treatment” (1972), before Mr. Edwards had even finished shooting it.

“I felt like an animal who goes off into the weeds and sucks its paw,” Mr. Edwards later told a reporter. Instead he went off to England and Switzerland, where he wrote the screenplays for “S.O.B.” and “Victor/Victoria.”

It was the success of “10” that allowed Mr. Edwards to make those movies. And “10” was his revenge on Mr. Aubrey. “Right after ‘Wild Rovers,’ Aubrey called me into his office and told me he hated a screenplay I’d written and refused to pay me the last moneys due on it,” Mr. Edwards told Playboy. Mr. Edwards said he responded, “You don’t have to pay me, but give me the script back.” That script became “10.”

Audiences and critics turned away from Mr. Edwards’s last films, including “That’s Life!” (1986), with Mr. Lemmon as an architect on the eve of his 60th birthday and Ms. Andrews as his wife, who may or may not have cancer, and “Sunset” (1988), a murder mystery hooked together with an elegiac look at the silent film industry. His final film, released in 1993, was “Son of the Pink Panther,” a poorly received attempt to revive that franchise starring Roberto Benigni.

But he had one last triumph. He wrote and directed a stage version of “Victor/Victoria,” which opened on Broadway in 1995, with Ms. Andrews reprising her movie role, and played for almost two years.

His survivors include a daughter, Jennifer, and a son, Geoffrey, from his first marriage; two Vietnamese daughters, Amy and Joanna, whom he and Ms. Andrews adopted; and a stepdaughter, Emma — Ms. Andrews’s daughter from her marriage to the Broadway designer Tony Walton.

“My entire life has been a search for a funny side to that very tough life out there,” Mr. Edwards once said. “I developed a kind of eye for scenes that made me laugh to take the pain away.”

_________________
Chloride and Sodium: Two terribly dangerous substances that taste great together!


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 1 post ] 

All times are UTC - 5 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 23 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group