Category Archives: Blake Edwards

Blu-Ray News #142: Operation Petticoat (1959).

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Directed by Blake Edwards
Starring Cary Grant, Tony Curtis, Joan O’Brien, Dina Merrill, Gene Evans, Dick Sargent, Arthur O’Connell, Virginia Gregg, Gavin MacLeod, Madlyn Rhue, Marion Ross

Olive Films has announced a retooling of their Olive Signature series, beginning with their November releases. From now on, these titles will be Blu-Ray only and limited to just 3,500 copies. With this announcement comes the news that previous Olive Signature titles are now out of print.*

One of the first titles in the new Signature line is Blake Edwards’ Operation Petticoat (1959), a charming, goofy service comedy that benefits greatly from having Cary Grant and Tony Curtis in the conning tower. It’s also got Virginia Gregg in it, a personal favorite who was always terrific on Dragnet.

Operation Petticoat was originally to be shot in B&W for about a million bucks, but when Grant came aboard, Eastman Color and an extra two million were added to the mix. The picture turned out to be a massive hit, making a ton of money for Grant who had a percentage deal — and spawning a later TV series with Jamie Lee Curtis in it.

This used to surface on TV all the time when I was a kid, and I could never pass it by. Highly recommended.

• That includes High Noon (1952), John Ford’s The Quiet Man (1952) and The Night Of The Grizzly (1966).

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Filed under 1959, Blake Edwards, DVD/Blu-ray News, Olive Films, Tony Curtis, Universal (-International)

Blu-Ray News #98: The Pink Panther Film Collection.

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Directed by Blake Edwards
Starring Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom, Burt Kwouk, etc.

Shout Factory has announced the arrival in April of a very, very funny thing — The Pink Panther Blu-Ray Collection. It gathers up all six of the Peter Sellers Inspector Clouseau films, from The Pink Panther (1963) to the after-his-death thing, The Trail Of The Pink Panther (1982), and presents them in hi-def.  We all have our favorite of these films, and our favorite gags — mine is A Shot In The Dark (1964) and the gag with the parallel bars in Strikes Again (1976).

The Pink Panther (1963)
Starring Peter Sellers, David Niven, Robert Wagner, Capucine
“Oh well, if you’ve seen one Stradivarius, you’ve seen them all.”

A Shot In The Dark (1964)
Starring Peter Sellers, Elke Sommer
“Yes, it is my coat.”

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The Return Of The Pink Panther (1975)
Starring Peter Sellers, Christopher Plummer, Catherine Schell, Herbert Lom
“Swine bird.”

The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976)
Starring Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom, Burt Kwouk, Lesley-Anne Down
“It is obvious to my trained eye, that there is much more going on here than meets the ear. ”

Revenge Of The Pink Panther (1978)
Starring Peter Sellers, Dyan Cannon, Herbert Lom, Burt Kwouk
“Ooohhh, sixteen chests on a dead man’s rum, Yo-ho-ho in the bottle of the chest.”

Trail of the Pink Panther (1982)
Starring Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom, Burt Kwouk
“I am André Botot, mustard salesman from Dijon.”

Personally, I’m glad they left out the non-Sellers pictures. This set is coming from Shout Factory’s new Shout Select line, and they promise a slew of extras. Funny as all hell, and absolutely essential.

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Filed under 1963, 1964, 1975, 1976, 1978, Blake Edwards, DVD/Blu-ray News, Peter Sellers, Shout/Scream Factory

DVD News #11: Warner Archive Cyber Monday Sale.

Cyber Monday

Looks like a good time for that terrific Blu-ray of The Great Race (1965)!

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Filed under 1965, Blake Edwards, DVD/Blu-ray News, Natalie Wood, Tony Curtis, Warner Archive

Blu-ray Review: The Great Race (1965).

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Directed by Blake Edwards
Produced by Martin Jurow
Screenplay by Arthur A. Ross
Original Story by Blake Edwards, Arthur Ross
Production Design: Fernando Carrere
Director Of Photography: Russell Harlan. ASC
Costumes Designed by Don Feld
Miss Wood’s Clothes by Edith Head
Film Editor: Ralph E. Winters
Music by Henry Mancini

Cast: Jack Lemmon (Prof. Fate), Tony Curtis (The Great Leslie), Natalie Wood (Maggie DuBois), Peter Falk (Max), Keenan Wynn (Hezekiah Sturdy), Arthur O’Connell (Henry Goodbody), Dorothy Provine (Lily Olay), Larry Storch (Texas Jack), Ross Martin (Baron Rolfe von Stuppe), George Macready (General Kuhster), Denver Pyle (Sheriff).

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Blake Edwards’ The Great Race is the kind of movie Blu-ray seems made for: a great big Panavision roadshow piece of Technicolor eye candy. And from its overture to the final fade, the new disc from Warner Archive is a thing of real beauty.

Part homage to silent films (dedicated to “Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy”), part live-action cartoon, with The Great Race, Blake Edwards tried to pull off the near-impossible task of making an epic comedy. It’s up to the viewer to decide if he succeeded or not.

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The Great Leslie (Tony Curtis) and Professor Fate (Jack Lemmon)—inspired casting of the male leads of Some Like It Hot (1959)—are daredevils in the early 1900s. Leslie is the dressed-in-white hero who always comes through unscathed; Fate’s a combination of your typical black-clad silent movie villain and Wile E. Coyote, whose plans always blow up in his face, sometimes literally, with a “Ta-Da!” from Henry Mancini. Fate is accompanied by his ever-loyal and equally-inept assistant Max Meen (Peter Falk), while Leslie has Keenan Wynn in his corner. Establishing these characters and their rivalry makes for a hilarious first reel (which the rest of the movie has to work hard to live up to).

An around-the-world automobile race is announced (Leslie’s brainchild), setting the “course” for the rest of the film—with Natalie Wood on hand as Maggie DuBois, a reporter covering the race. After a number of setpieces involving everything from a saloon brawl to a stowaway polar bear, it settles down to a Prince And Pauper retread that treats us to two Jack Lemmons and keeps Miss Wood in her underwear for the last 45 minutes or so. And just for good measure, it all climaxes with a truly epic pie fight.

Great Race BTS 1 sized

Making The Great Race turned out to be a bumpy road. Edwards clashed with Jack Warner, and he was actually removed from the picture. The cast united to have him brought back. Costs piled up. And the pies went rancid from one day’s shooting to the next—the set would have to be hosed down and redressed with fresh pies. The whole thing ended up 24 days over schedule.

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What’s more, Natalie Wood wasn’t too thrilled about the whole thing. She owed Warner Bros. another film, and she went into The Great Race grudgingly to take care of that obligation. The part had already been offered to Jane Fonda, who decided to do Cat Ballou instead, and Lee Remick, who’d done Days Of Wine And Roses (1962) with Edwards and Jack Lemmon.

Great race NW pie

Wood and Edwards didn’t get along. She demanded that Edith Head do her costumes. And while shooting the pie fight, Edwards himself threw the pies meant for Natalie. Turns out comedy is no laughing matter.

Critics didn’t find a whole lot of greatness in The Great Race. When you advertise a movie with the tagline “The greatest comedy of all time,” you’re probably asking for it. And in the end, it wasn’t the runaway hit everyone was hoping for—especially since it cost a then-mammoth $12 million. But time has been kind to Edwards’ salute to slapstick, and it has a healthy following. This was certainly aided by the fact that an episodic film like this plays pretty well on television—strategically-placed commercial breaks can’t completely destroy its rhythm. That’s where kids like me found it in the 70s and fell in love with it.

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The Great Race presents its great cast and crew at the absolute peak of their powers. Lemmon’s a riot in his dual role (I’d be happy with another two hours of Fate’s disastrous stunts). Curtis is perfect as the perfect hero, bringing just the right amount of life to a character that’s required to be somewhat bland. Natalie Wood’s both funny and beautiful. Peter Falk comes close to stealing the whole thing. Blake Edwards brings all this chaos together and makes it work—though some find it an exhausting experience. And, of course, Henry Mancini knocks off another brilliant score.

Great Race Boys LifeTake a quick look at that list and realize that everyone associated with The Great Race has passed on: Lemmon, Curtis, Wood, Falk, Edwards and on down the line. But almost 50 years after its release, in The Great Race, they seem vibrantly alive on the new Blu-ray from Warner Archive.

Russell Harlan’s Oscar-nominated camerawork is really shown off here. Colors pop and the image is amazingly sharp and detailed. (Wish the same could be said for the Blu-ray of his work on Rio Bravo.) The stereo is clean, giving plenty of punch to Mancini’s music and the cartoonish sound effects (many of which you’ll recognize from your favorite WB cartoons). We’re treated to the roadshow presentation, complete with overture, intermission and exit music.

If I didn’t already have a Blu-ray setup, this one would’ve pulled the trigger—it’s an all-time favorite, and a real demonstration of everything the format can do, from astounding clarity to film-like texture to warehousing a sizable stash of extras. Highly, highly recommended.

Push the button, Max!

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Filed under 1965, Blake Edwards, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Jack Lemmon, Natalie Wood, Tony Curtis, Warner Archive

Blu-Ray News #2: The Great Race (1965).

Great Race LC sized

As a kid, growing up in the Seventies, I could barely contain my excitement when Blake Edwards’ The Great Race (1965) would turn up in the TV Guide. I’d count down the days, plan the perfect snack and on and on. It was always a big deal.

Warner Archive’s upcoming Blu-ray release is an even bigger deal. Here are some of the specs:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio English 5.1
Original Road Show Version with Overture, Intermission, Entr’acte, and Exit music
Special Features: Behind the Scenes with Blake Edwards’ “The Great Race”, Theatrical Trailer
Available 9/9/2014; you can pre-order it now
Click on Professor Fate to find out more.

I can’t wait to share this one with my daughter.

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Filed under 1965, Blake Edwards, DVD/Blu-ray News, Jack Lemmon, Natalie Wood, Tony Curtis, Warner Archive