Blake Edwards’ films have always been well dressed, and one only has to think of Audrey Hepburn’s chic outfits in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and Bo Derek’s efficient display of fabric in “10” to understand that. But Edwards’ movies are well-dressed down to the furniture, architecture, backdrops and props.
This consistent attention to the look of his films is why Edwards has been selected to receive the Contribution to Cinematic Imagery Award from the Art Directors Guild. The award, which is not conferred annually, is bestowed to an individual whose body of work enhances and enriches the moviegoing experience.
“Blake Edwards goes out of his way to present striking-looking images with his sets and locations,” says Michael Baugh, executive director of the guild. “I’m so glad that our executive board chose to honor him. Some of his pictures are so unique in strong visual images that you don’t forget them — from ‘The Great Race’ to the whole look of ’10,’ for instance, to the house going down the hill in ‘S.O.B.’ This is a collaborative art, and it takes a strong director like Blake Edwards to show off what we do to the best effect possible.”
James Coburn, the Oscar-winning supporting actor for 1998’s “Affliction” who starred in Edwards’ “What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?” and “The Carey Treatment,” will present the award to the writer-director at the fourth annual Excellence in Production Design Awards on Feb. 26 in the Intl. Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills.
The tableaux in Edwards’ films has a way of staying in memory, from the camera swing around the corner to highlight Hepburn’s lonely walk in the concrete canyons of New York in the title sequence of “Tiffany’s” to William Holden and a horse in a foot of snow in “Wild Rovers” to the backdrop for “The Party” to the period trappings of “Victor/Victoria” and “Sunset.”
Edwards relied on art directors Roland Anderson and Hal Periera, for instance, on “Tiffany’s” (1961), which captured the romantic side of New York’s character that was soulful, a decade and a half before Woody Allen and art director Mel Bourne became famous for it with “Annie Hall” and “Manhattan”; the art direction also earned an Oscar nom. Periera, who was the supervising art director at Paramount Pictures from 1950-68, was known for his knack with urban chic.
Included in Edwards’ collaborators on multiple movies — wife and sometime star Julie Andrews, actors Jack Lemmon and Peter Sellers, stunt coordinator Joe Dunne (who pulled off Inspector Clouseau’s pratfalls for Sellers), editor Ralph E. Winters, cinematographers Philip H. Lathrop and Harry Stradling Jr., producer Tony Adams, composer Henry Mancini — are art directors Fernando Carrere in the early part of the director’s career and Rodger Maus from “10” in 1979 onward.
Carrere, who was nominated for an Academy Award for director William Wyler’s “The Children’s Hour,” was responsible for art-set direction on Edwards’ “The Pink Panther,” “The Great Race,” “The Party” and “Darling Lili,” among others.
Maus was integral to the looks for “10,” “S.O.B.” “Victor/Victoria,” “The Man Who Loved Women,” “Micki & Maude,” “A Fine Mess,” “Blind Date,” “Sunset” and “Skin Deep.”
Maus created the elaborate beach house on Edwards’ Malibu estate that was demolished in “S.O.B.” He also was nominated for an Oscar for the Parisian cafe-society look of “Victor/Victoria,” the set for which he built at Pinewood Studios in London.