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A Tribute To Director Blake Edwards

Director Blake Edwards was the man who gave us a standard and style of comedy in films that may never be matched again. Physical comedy was one of the elements that was almost always continuous in his films. In the "Pink Panther" series of six films, Edwards' influence of pantomime, slapstick and the silent film comedy style of Chaplin and Keaton channeled through Peter Sellers' "Inspector Clouseau" and the supporting cast. But none of it ever seemed cheesy or stolen, only unique. In "The Great Race" (1965), which starred, Natalie Wood, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Peter Falk, Edwards use of camera movement in combination with Russell Harlan's choreography with the actors made the epic pie-throwing sequence a perfect example of physical comedy.. While his commercial and critical successes were comedies, Edwards was versatile with light-hearted comedies such as "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (1961) and dark psychological dramas such as "Days of Wine and Roses" (1962) with the powerful theme of alcoholism and how it affects one couple's marriage.

Edwards was also unafraid to experiment within other genres of drama and comedy. For "Daring Lili" (1969), an espionage drama, Edwards chose a distorted camera style to reflect the film's atmosphere and story. With "The Party" (1968), which is considered a "silent comedy," Edwards' film, starring Peter Sellers, had minimal dialogue and used mostly slapstick to further the characters and plot. With "S.O.B" (1981), Edwards made the film as a satire about Hollywood and what goes on behind-the-scenes. None of these films found commercial success but he took risks, artistic risks, as what a true director does.

Near the end of his career, Edwards directed the underrated hilarious comedy "Blind Date" (1987) which had an all-star cast including Bruce Willis, Kin Basinger, John Larroquette, Phil Hartman and William Daniels. Edwards last film was "Son of Pink Panther" (1993) which starred Italian actor and Oscar-winning actor Roberto Benigni as Inspector Clouseau's illegitimate child.

It was during the production of "Daring Lili," that Edwards and his star Julie Andrews met and fell in love. IN the same year, they married. IN their 41 years of marriage, Andrews worked with her husband in three more films after "Daring Lili," - "10" (1979), "S.O.B." (1981), and "Victor Victoria" (1982).

In an 1971 interview for "Village Voice," that when he was working as an actor before he became a director, "I worked with the best directors - Ford, Wyler, Preminger - and learned a lot from them. But I wasn't a very cooperative actor. I was a spunky, smart-assed kid. Maybe even then I was indicating that I wanted to give, not take, direction."

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