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2019 Locarno Film Festival’s Retrospective to be Dedicated to Blake Edwards



The Retrospective of the 72nd Locarno Film Festival will be dedicated to the American filmmaker Blake Edwards, featuring his complete filmography as director (screening at the GranRex theater with 37 titles from 1955 to 1993), plus a survey of films by other directors, in particular Richard Quine, for which he wrote the screenplay. The program will also include a selection of his acclaimed work for television.

An acknowledged master of comedy, Edwards also made both dramatic and romantic movies, sometimes shifting between genres even within a single film – as in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Days of Wine and Roses (1962), The Tamarind Seed (1974) and others again – by sudden switches of tone and register, stark contrasts or subtle shifts. The Retrospective sets out to explore every facet of a personal filmmaking universe that was as remarkable as any in the period from the 1950s to the 1990s, and which includes many misunderstood or neglected works. Some of the latter may prove more surprising and revealing than his better known and more highly regarded masterpieces.

Blake Edwards was active as screenwriter, producer, and director, experiencing at first hand every aspect of the workings of the Hollywood machine, in an epoch when the classic film industry of Hollywood was in decline. As one of the filmmakers most clearly aware that this was a period of crisis and change, his perspicacious talent inevitably drew him into conflict with the Studio system. Only many years later, in 1979, did the triumphant box office performance of 10 put Edwards’ Hollywood career back on track. From 1969 onwards his output was hallmarked by his personal and professional partnership with second wife Julie Andrews, with whom he made a total of seven pictures, from Darling Lili (1970) to That’s Life! (1986). A line-up of other stars also made a fundamental contribution to his work: Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Audrey Hepburn, Lee Remick and of course Peter Sellers, whom Edwards chose for the role of Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther (1963). Another crucial factor was his creative rapport with composer Henry Mancini, who wrote the music for almost all of his films.

Lili Hinstin, Artistic Director of the Locarno Film Festival: “Best known for the Pink Panther franchise,Breakfast at Tiffany’s or The Party, Blake Edwards was responsible for a complex and in part unfamiliar filmography that also features titles such as That’s life! or Wild Rovers. A paradoxical auteur, Edwards could put his hand to anything from romcom (Bring Your Smile Along, Mister Cory) to thriller (Experiment in Terror)to western (Wild Rovers), creatively rethinking and subverting each genre in just the way that caused his violent break with the Studios and their final cut privilege. He left Hollywood for exile in Europe, in Switzerland to be precise, where he spent eight years and wrote some of his greatest screenplays before returning to direct one of his finest films, also the box-office hit of its time: 10.”

Curated by Roberto Turigliatto, the Retrospective is made possible by the invaluable cooperation of the Cinémathèque suisse and will be enhanced by an accompanying volume published in English and French by Capricci.

Roberto Turigliatto, curator of the Locarno Film Festival Retrospective: “Edwards, a master of American film comedy at its most caustically insidious, redefined and re-invigorated the subversive and destructive spirit of slapstick and burlesque in masterpieces such as The Party, the Pink Panther series and Micki & MaudeBy dedicating The Great Race to Laurel & Hardy – and by openly reprising their work in A Fine Mess – he paid homage to a tradition, which at the time was largely forgotten or ignored. For Edwards, however, that “infancy of the art” was both an important heritage and an inescapable example that called for constant re-invention within the most extreme and excessive sophistication of innocence. “I learned a lot from Leo McCarey. I spent long hours listening to what he told me: he was a comedy genius.”

The project will also involve prestigious institutions in Switzerland and abroad, creating a circuit on which the Retrospective will travel internationally until 2020. Partner institutions already confirmed include Filmpodium in Zurich, the REX theater in Bern and Geneva’s Les Cinémas du Grütli, plus the Austrian Film Museum in Vienna.

The 72nd Locarno Film Festival will take place from 7 to 17 August.

Editor-in-Chief of Movie Marker. Likes: Scorsese, Spielberg and Tarantino Dislikes: The film 'Open Water' I mean, what was that all about?

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