A detailed and hilarious look at the art and life of a legendary Hollywood filmmaker.
With one of the longest and most controversial careers in Hollywood history, Blake Edwards is a phoenix of movie directors, full of hubris, ambition, and raving comic chutzpah. His rambunctious filmography remains an artistic force on par with Hollywood's greatest comic directors: Lubitsch, Sturges, Wilder. Like Wilder, Edwards's propensity for hilarity is double-helixed with pain, and in films like Breakfast at Tiffany's, Days of Wine and Roses, and even The Pink Panther, we can hear him off-screen, laughing in the dark. And yet, despite those enormous successes, he was at one time considered a Hollywood villain. After his marriage to Julie Andrews, Edwards's Darling Lili nearly sunk the both of them and brought Paramount Studios to its knees. Almost overnight, Blake became an industry pariah, which ironically fortified his sense of satire, as he simultaneously fought the Hollywood tide and rode it. Employing keen visual analysis, meticulous research, and troves of interviews and production files, Sam Wasson delivers the first complete account of one of the maddest figures Hollywood has ever known.
Sam Wasson —
Sam Wasson is the New York Times-bestselling author of Fifth Avenue, 5AM: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman, and A Splurch in the Kisser: The Movies of Blake Edwards. He is working on a biography of Bob Fosse. He lives in Los Angeles.
Wasson, Sam. A splurch in the kisser: the movies of Blake Edwards. Wesleyan, 2009. 353p bibl index afp; ISBN 9780819569158. Reviewed in 2010mar CHOICE.
With this title, Wasson fulfills the goal of the "Wesleyan Film" series, which aims to produce books that are "rigorous, critical, and accessible both to academics and to lay readers with a serious interest in film." The study is a pleasure to read, primarily because the author is a fan and intimate with the details of the thematic content and style of Edwards's films. The title of the book refers to a particular gag in slapstick or visual comedy, the pie in the face that takes its victim down a peg. A "splurch," Wasson explains, is "the sound a dessert makes when it lands." Wasson uses his own sense of humor to splurch pretentious academic analyses (an "Appendicitis" lists the ingredients of a Blake Edwards film: animals, animations, bars, cars, chases, creatives [artists], criminals, detectives, and so on). Wasson charts the highs and lows of Edwards's career as well as Edwards's understanding of "the nature of pain and humor," evident in Skin Deep. Readers will appreciate the close analysis not only of Breakfast at Tiffany's, Days of Wine and Roses, 10, Victor/Victoria, and of course the Panther titles, but also of less familiar works, including Gunn and Switch.
Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers. -- S. Vander Closter, Rhode Island School of Design