Blake Edwards

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1. How do any one of the films screened in weeks 6-12 of the course represent and/or foreground authorship?

Dating back to the 1920’s, the term ‘auteur’ was debated over, claiming to describe an “author of script and film-maker as one and the same” versus the view of scripts being appointed from authors or scriptwriters (1996, p12). Over the [course of 50 or so odd] years,. Known for his distinctive brand of comedy, the work of Blake Edwards, demonstrates the authorial stamp that is often referred to in theories of the auteur, resulting in a style or approach to cinema that could be described as ‘Edward-ness’. [He makes prominent use of his self-conscious manipulation of particular elements of film style and systematically arranges certain techniques used within certain films. As such, this essay aims to examine how Edwards’ film, S.O.B (1981), foregrounds his authorship. This will be done through the examination of some utilized stylistic, ideological and thematic traits present in the film S.O.B, as well as in other Edwards’ films].

Many director’s [throughout the ages] have paid homage to additional director’s in order to both adopt certain stylistic elements within their films and to compliment them in the sense of appropriation; for example Lloyd Kaufman’s homage to Charlie Chaplin in regards to characters and scripts, and Woody Allen’s reverence to Jean-Luc Godard in regards to camera techniques. Perhaps the most distinctive element of Edwards work is the style of comedy that characterises much of his filmography. Distinguished by…[briefly explain what the essential dimension of his comedy is and then move on to a discussion of topping the topper’] Blake Edwards’ conception of the stylistic trait of ‘topping the topper’ was investigated in an interview by Harlan Kennedy (1981, p.26), where Edwards recaps a scene pitched to him by writer Leo McCarey, his mentor at the time. The scene depicts a young man chasing, by foot, after his girlfriend, in a streetcar, to say farewell, yet of course the streetcar overtakes him with the boarding steps and the young man spins 180 degrees and lands face-down in the street. Edward explains that the gag, in today’s terms, would have ended there, yet continues on with the man collecting his items off the ground and sitting down on a nearby bench where a passing woman takes the man’s best pen and drops a quarter into his hat, sealing the deal (Kennedy, 1981, p.26). This style of comedy adopted by Edwards has come to flourish as the term ‘topping the topper’. *

S.O.B demonstrates this distinctive stylistic approach evident in Edwards’ comedy, in the supermarket sequence that occurs between Lila (Jennifer Edwards) , Culley (William Holden) and Sam Marshall (David Young). [Now that you’ve/I’ve established your critical frame and are referring back to the topic move on to the example in greater detail]On her way over she drops apples onto the floor then crashes into Culley from behind as they both limply fall sideways onto the fruit. Sam then approaches Culley while Lila hides behind him. If applying the joke in today’s terms, the gag would have ended there. Yet, Edwards continues on by having Lila lose her balance on the apple rack and falling to the ground, where Culley formally introduces Sam to Lila, which leads to Lila being overwhelmed and passing out on Sam. This use of slapstick comedy in ‘topping the topper’ is used almost as a mandatory in the majority of Edwards’ films. *

For instance, throughout the 20-year saga since the original The Pink Panther (1963), slapstick styled comedy has been the main source of comedy-generated material for The Pink Panther series. Within the 1963 film of The Pink Panther we see within the sequence of Clouseau (Peter Sellers) and Simone (Capucine) early on, unpacking their clothes into the wardrobe of the hotel. Simone opens the closet door on inspector Clouseau as he exits the bathroom, hitting him in the face. Clouseau...
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