The films of writer-director Blake Edwards include the “Pink Panther” comedies, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Days of Wine and Roses” and “10.” His legendary disputes with studio chiefs inspired his scathing Hollywood satire, “S.O.B.”
Edwards is the husband of Academy Award-winning actress Julie Andrews, with whom he collaborated on seven movies, a short-lived TV series and a Broadway musical adaptation of their 1982 movie comedy “Victor/Victoria.” He has taken up sculpting in his later years and had a retrospective in 2009.
A onetime minor movie actor who began writing for films and radio in the late 1940s and a decade later created the series “Peter Gunn” and “Mr. Lucky” for television, Edwards launched his big-screen directing career in 1955.
He scored his first box-office hit with “Operation Petticoat,” a 1959 comedy about a World War II submarine crew starring Cary Grant and Tony Curtis. But the turning point in Edwards’ film career came in 1961 with “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
The light, sophisticated romantic-comedy based on the Truman Capote novella earned Audrey Hepburn an Academy Award nomination for best actress. Composer Henry Mancini won two Oscars, one for his score and the other with Johnny Mercer for their memorable song “Moon River.”
Displaying his versatility, Edwards followed up that success with the 1962 thriller “Experiment in Terror” and, that same year, “Days of Wine and Roses,” a grim drama about a young couple (Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick) battling alcoholism. Lemmon and Remick earned Academy Award nominations, and Mancini and Mercer won Oscars for their title song.
But Edwards is best known for his comedies.
As co-writer and director of “The Pink Panther” and “A Shot in the Dark” (both released in 1964), starring Peter Sellers as the bumbling French police inspector, Clouseau, Edwards earned a reputation as a modern master of slapstick comedy and sight gags.
After his service in WWII, Edwards teamed with his friend, John Champion, to co-write and co-produce “Panhandle,” a 1948 western that Champion financed with money from his trust fund. In the low-budget film that starred Rod Cameron, Edwards played a small part of a gunslinger.
“I was an actor and perhaps I perceive myself as continuing to be one, but I know I wasn’t that serious,” Edwards said in an interview for the Directors Guild of America’s publication DGA News in 1993. “I wasn’t that dedicated and I certainly wasn’t that successful. And success was important to me.”
After teaming with Champion, with whom he also wrote and produced the 1949 western “Stampede,” Edwards said he “suddenly realized that there was another world out there where I could be successful, not only by reputation and money. Writing really is the thing that turned me on.”
|1982||Best Adapted Screenplay||Victor/Victoria||Nomination|