The Films of Blake Edwards
Bring Your Smile Along
He Laughed Last
This Happy Feeling
The Perfect Furlough
Breakfast at Tiffany's (November 17/12)
Based on Truman Capote's novel, Breakfast at Tiffany's follows George Peppard's Paul Varjak as he moves into a New York City apartment building and immediately befriends an unusual young woman named Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn). The film, like its source material, doesn't contain much in the way of a plot, as the meandering narrative, for the most part, details the day-to-day exploits of the two central characters - with the leads' almost incredible charisma, Hepburn especially, going a long way towards compensating for the less-than-eventful nature of George Axelrod's screenplay. Blake Edwards' lighthearted treatment of the material ensures that Breakfast at Tiffany's, generally speaking, boasts an irresistibly playful and charming vibe, and there's little doubt that the movie benefits substantially from the inclusion of a few captivating sequences (eg Paul and Holly go on a shopping trip, Holly sings Moon River on her windowsill, etc). It's just as clear, however, that the film's overlength becomes more and more problematic as time progresses, with the movie's palpably underwhelming final stretch compounded by an increased emphasis on incongruously dark elements and plot twists. By the time the appealingly upbeat and feel-good conclusion rolls around, however, Breakfast at Tiffany's has, despite its erratic atmosphere, established itself as a captivating romantic comedy that lives up to its place as a classic of the genre. (This is, of course, despite Mickey Rooney's astonishingly racist turn as Holly's Japanese neighbor, Mr. Yunioshi.)
Experiment in Terror
Days of Wine and Roses
The Pink Panther
A Shot in the Dark
Blake Edwards' The Great Race (July 31/15)
A monumentally epic disaster, Blake Edwards' The Great Race follows two mortal enemies - Jack Lemmon's Professor Fate and Tony Curtis' The Great Leslie - as they embark on an automobile race that'll eventually pass through three continents. It's immediately clear that filmmaker Blake Edwards isn't looking to cultivate an atmosphere of subtlety here, as Blake Edwards' The Great Race has been hard-wired with a decidedly over-the-top feel that's reflected in all of the movie's various elements - with everything from the performances to the set-pieces to the costume design pitched at a level of nails-on-a-chalkboard broadness. It's a vibe that grows more and more oppressive as time progresses over the course of Blake Edwards' The Great Race's interminable 160 minute running time, as Edwards proves unable to inject more than a handful of laughs into the film's many, many jokes and gags. The episodic structure ensures that the narrative suffers from a palpable lack of momentum, as many of the film's virtually stand-alone sequences manage to outstay their welcome almost from the get-go. (This is especially true of a painfully long, woefully unfunny segment set at a kingdom led by a ruler that happens to look exactly like Lemmon's character.) Despite its plethora of deficiencies, however, Blake Edwards' The Great Race's biggest disappointment is Lemmon's larger-then-life, utterly misguided work here - as the actor, evidently channeling Dudley Do-Right's Snidely Whiplash, delivers a relentlessly exaggerated performance that's devoid of his usual charisma (ie the actor is just annoying, for the most part). By the time the less-than-hilarious showstopping pie fight rolls around, Blake Edwards' The Great Race has confirmed its place as a trainwreck of catastrophic proportions and it's ultimately difficult not to wonder just what Edwards was hoping to accomplish with this mess.
What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?
The Carey Treatment
The Tamarind Seed
The Return of the Pink Panther
The Pink Panther Strikes Again
Revenge of the Pink Panther
Trail of the Pink Panther
Curse of the Pink Panther
The Man Who Loved Women
Micki + Maude
A Fine Mess (November 25/05)
A Fine Mess was trounced both critically and financially upon its original theatrical release back in '86, and it's not terribly difficult to see why. Given that writer/director Blake Edwards purportedly based his screenplay upon a Laurel and Hardy short, it comes as no surprise that the film is heavy on broad instances of physical comedy. And while some of this stuff is admittedly pretty funny, the majority of it is not - although there's no denying that the movie remains entertaining throughout. Stripped of expectations - Edwards had just come off Micki + Maude, which remains one of his most successful films - A Fine Mess comes off as a thoroughly ludicrous but strangely enjoyable piece of work. Ted Danson and Howie Mandel star as Spence and Dennis, a pair of scheming friends who are always on the lookout for a quick buck. Spence thinks he's found a goldmine after eavesdropping on a plot to inject a racehorse with a drug that'll increase its speed exponentially, and convinces Dennis to bet his life's savings on the equine's upcoming race. Problems emerge when the two men responsible for the fix - the bickering, bumbling duo of Turnip (Richard Mulligan) and Binky (Stuart Margolin) - learn of Spence and Dennis' intentions, and are told to eliminate them by their boss (a hammy Paul Sorvino). The remainder of the film is essentially one long chase sequence, punctuated by the occasional burst of inexplicable hijinks (eg Spence and Dennis inadvertentluy purchase an antique player piano at a fancy auction house). The exceedingly over-the-top performances effectively mirror the film's absurd tone, and it's certainly worth noting that the actors rarely cross the line into out-and-out flamboyance (Mandel, not surprisingly, comes awfully close a few times). The rampant silliness - as off-putting as it initially is - eventually becomes hypnotic, in an I-want-to-look-away-but-I-just-can't sort of way. Edwards imbues A Fine Mess with an expectedly frantic pace, ensuring that - at the very least - it's never boring (although it does peter out somewhat towards the end, as it becomes more and more obvious just how hard Edwards is working to maintain the frenetic vibe). And though it's generally not laugh-out-loud funny, there's one sequence that almost justifies the film's entire existence: Dennis, having consumed some spicy Indian food, lets loose with a bout of comedically high-pitched screaming in the middle of a crowded restaurant.
Blind Date (January 3/03)
Blind Date is proof positive that it's not as easy as it looks to put together a good wacky comedy. Movies like Weekend at Bernie's and Policy Academy make it seem like an effortless thing, getting laughs out of completely absurd situations. Blind Date proves, though, that it's not quite as effortless as it seems.
Bruce Willis stars as Walter, a successful architect who's on the verge of a big promotion. Whether or not he gets it has a lot to do with his ability to impress a potential client, who has very old-fashioned views on how men and women should behave. One such belief is that men shouldn't be single, so Walter asks his brother (played by Phil Hartman) to set him up with a date. He's matched with Nadia (Kim Basinger), a beautiful woman who comes with a warning - never let her drink (she'll get wild, Walter is warned). The two hit it off instantly, and presumably this attraction clouds Walter's judgment, who quickly offers Nadia a glass of champagne. She drinks more than she should, and the rest of the evening essentially becomes Walter's worst nightmare as Nadia proceeds to wreak havoc.
The problem with Blind Date is that the situations within aren't inherently wacky; a movie like Weekend at Bernie's, which featured two guys trying pass off a dead man as alive, contains an organically funny setup. But here, though director Blake Edwards tries quite hard, the variety of circumstances Willis' character finds himself in just aren't all that believable. For example: After Walter experiences that wild night, which sees him fired and jailed, it seems reasonable enough that he'd never want to see Nadia again. But no, the third act - which sees Nadia marrying a sleazy lawyer named David (John Larroquette, who completely steals every scene he's in) - finds Walter doing whatever he can to get Nadia back. It doesn't make sense; we're never given any indication prior to that that Walter even likes her, let alone loves her.
Edwards does, however, liven things up with a couple of spectacularly entertaining SteadiCam shots. The first is the best, which starts out in Walter's office, wanders the hall in his office, goes into an elevator, and winds up in the lobby. Edwards' sense of style similarly improves a lot of Blind Date, but it's not quite enough to prevent the film from becoming tedious.
Blake Edwards' Skin Deep (August 10/14)
Blake Edwards' Skin Deep casts John Ritter as Zach Hutton, an incorrigible womanizer who is forced to re-evaluate his life after his wife (Alyson Reed's Alex) and mistress (Denise Crosby's Angie) learn of his affair with a hairdresser. It's a decidedly familiar premise that's employed to middling effect by writer/director Blake Edwards, as the filmmaker proves unable to elevate the proceedings above its been-there-done-there setup on a consistent basis - which, in turn, ensures that Blake Edwards' Skin Deep possesses a bland and thoroughly underwhelming vibe that's nothing short of disastrous (ie the movie is, from beginning to end, just so forgettable). The movie's less-than-engrossing atmosphere is compounded by an ongoing paucity of laughs, as Edwards suffuses the narrative with a whole host of lame, eye-rolling attempts at comedy that fall hopelessly flat. (It's worth noting that even the film's notorious glow-in-the-dark condom sequence is unable to elicit even a chuckle from the viewer.) There's little doubt, then, that Blake Edwards' Skin Deep benefits substantially from Ritter's typically charming turn as the central character, with the actor's affable performance going a long way to ensure that the film is, at the very least, watchable. (This is despite sporting a beard that jarringly alternates between real and obviously fake.) Edwards' inability to transform Zach into a compelling, three-dimensional figure worthy of the viewer's interest thwarts one's attempts to sympathize with his (all-too-obvious) character arc, and it's consequently impossible to care whether or not he manages to both change his ways and win back his estranged wife - which, in the end, confirms Blake Edwards' Skin Deep place as a consistently misbegotten piece of work.
Son of the Pink Panther