I learned today that Blake Edwards died, one of my favorite filmmakers. When you look of the some of today’s comedy filmmakers such as the Coen Brothers, the Farrelly’s, Paul and Chris Wietz and others — you can see the influence of Edwards in their gleeful journey along the boundaries of taste in the name of comedy. Critics debated Edward’s restraint in such films as “10,” “Darling Lili,” and “S.O.B,” but I never thought he went too far and it’s always worth it.
He made the unrelentingly sad “Days of Wine and Roses” a pleasure to watch. It goes through the paces of a redemption story but it’s really about human struggle, giving us something to take home. When the fabulous “The Great Race” opened at the Squirrel Hill Theater in Pittsburgh in 1965, I went to see it 4 times! Of course, those were the days when a little kid could wander around the neighborhood and even see a movie if he wanted to. I loved Jack Lemmon’s tour de force performance in The Great Race, and what a great story about those daring adventurers of the early 20th century. It shocked me to learn in today’s New York Times obituary of Edwards that the film did not make much money.
I also saw “Wild Rovers” when it came out in 1971 and really enjoyed it. It’s not on DVD, but it’s a forgotten gem of a western with William Holden and Ryan O’Neal. Edwards could do all genres well, not just comedy. Like Howard Hawks, he explored many genres, and I appreciated his understanding of human nature and knack for comedy timing. Hats off in respect for Blake Edwards, a great artist.