That’s not Mary Poppins: Julie Andrews getting ready for her big scene in Blake Edwards’ S.O.B.
Director Blake Edwards died this morning at age 88.
Over the course of his 50 plus year career in features, he directed the best and the worst – from classics like A Shot in the Dark (1964) to ill-conceived duds like A Fine Mess (1986). He hit with drama in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) and Days of Wine and Roses (1962) and he struck gold in comedy with Peter Sellers in the earlier Inspector Clouseau films: The Pink Panther (1963), A Shot in the Dark (1964), The Return of the Pink Panther (1975) and The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976). The later Pink Panther films are mostly terrible so the less said about them the better, but so it is with a career as long as the one Edwards enjoyed.
Back in 2007, I joined my friend Christian Divine at The Aero in Santa Monica for a screening of Edwards’ The Party starring Peter Sellers as a bumbling Indian actor slapsticking his way through a Beverly Hills shindig (“Birdy num num!”). Mr. Edwards was of ill health so his daughter introduced the film, but after it was all over, the house lights came up and it was announced that Blake had turned out to see the audience’s reaction. He received an extended and enthusiastic standing ovation for his trouble. This was one of those moments that make living in L.A. worth the the trouble.
I grew up with the ’70s Pink Panther films so naturally I have a soft spot for them. I discovered Tiffany’s in high school and mostly like it though it softened the novel and features that embarrassing Mickey Rooney caricature of a Japanese man. I’ve never been crazy about the popular 10 (1979) with Dudley Moore and a cardboard cutout you may remember named Bo Derek, but Moore is very good in it.
My two favorite Edwards films are ones he made with wife Julie Andrews. The first is the acid Hollywood satire S.O.B. (1981) co-starring the great Richard Mulligan and Robert Preston and Victor/Victoria (1982) also with Robert Preston, James Garner and Lesley Ann Warren (“Pookie, I’m horny!”).
It was a good ride and Blake Edwards will be missed.