Thursday, December 16, 2010

He Laughed Last

I bow my head today in appreciation of American screenwriter, director, and producer Blake Edwards, who died yesterday at age 88. In addition to his many big-screen pictures--Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), Days of Wine and Roses (1962), The Pink Panther (1963), The Great Race (1965), 10 (1979), and Victor Victoria (1982)--Edwards was responsible for two memorable mid-20th-century TV detective dramas: Richard Diamond, Private Detective (1957-1960), starring David Janssen; and Peter Gunn (1958-1961), with Craig Stevens.

There are plenty of worthy tributes to Edwards appearing on the Web, including obituaries in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the blog Edward Copeland on Film. Rather than duplicate their information, I’d like to celebrate the man by showcasing some of the work he brought to the silver screen. Below, I have embedded the trailers from three of my favorite Edwards films: the original Pink Panther; Victor/Victoria (in which he directed his wife, singer-actress Julie Andrews); and a less-well-known picture, 1988’s Sunset, which teamed Bruce Willis (playing early western film star Tom Mix) with James Garner (as onetime lawman Wyatt Earp) in an adventure/crime drama about prostitution, movies, and murder in 1920s Hollywood.

Edwards died in Santa Monica, California, apparently from “complications of pneumonia.” But thanks to his abundant film and TV work, and despite some negative reviews of his later work, he’s unlikely to be forgotten.

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And because any day that offers helpings of both Audrey Hepburn and composer Henry Mancini has to be considered worth living, here’s a bonus clip from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, featuring the song with which that romantic flick is most closely associated (even though--amazingly--it wasn’t included in the trailer.)

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READ MORE:The Late Great Blake Edwards,” by Mercurie (A Shroud of Thoughts); “Blake Edwards and Crime,” by Michael Carlson (Irresistible Targets).

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