There are two ways to craft a smile. You can do it as cosmetic dentist Dr. Meghan Hodges does it: restoring and reshaping the teeth. But you can also do it as an artist or director, who creates representations of a smile and inspires smiles in their audience. Today we’d like to celebrate an artist who helped craft possibly the most iconic smile in our culture since the Mona Lisa, Tulsa’s own Blake Edwards, who would have been 96 on July 26. Known for his comedy, he was a versatile writer, producer, and director. He produced some amazing works that have secured his legacy as one of the greatest cinematic artists of the 20th century.
From Gunfighters to Peter Gunn
Blake Edwards began his career working on westerns. His first film, Panhandle, was partly financed by him and his co-producer/co-writer John C. Champion. Set in Texas and not Oklahoma, unfortunately, it tells the story of a retired US Marshal who has to track down his brother’s killer. This and the follow-up Stampede were standard B-westerns, but they were profitable enough that Edwards could find more work as a writer. He initially broke into TV, where he created a number of memorable series, like Mr. Lucky (1959), a half-hour comedy that could be seen as a predecessor to The Love Boat, and Peter Gunn, one of the most successful secret agent series on television. Both shows benefited from the music of Henry Mancini, who would work with Edwards on many of his projects. The Peter Gunn theme has become the most iconic secret agent music ever, influencing the James Bond theme.
Smiles and Diamonds
As the successful writer, Edwards was able to take more control over the series of Peter Gunn, directing 10 episodes, and this put him more on the radar as a director. He showed his comedic skills directing Operation Petticoat, which starred Tony Curtis and Cary Grant. His success in this film positioned him to direct Breakfast at Tiffany’s after Audrey Hepburn nixed the choice of John Frankenheimer (Birdman of Alcatraz).
It turns out that Edwards was the right choice, as his deft, comedic touch helped guide Hepburn through what she considered to be her most challenging role. Not only did Edwards help Hepburn create the outgoing, lovable, naive Holly Golightly, but he helped create the image of her that would be forever remembered. The image of Hepburn smiling in her smiling in her little black dress with strings of pearls around her neck, is considered one of the most iconic images of 20th century film. You will find it everywhere around the world, either represented directly or imitated. With the possible exception of Marilyn Monroe (who was considered for the role of Golightly), no actress has created such a visual legacy, thanks, in no small part, to the directorial work of Edwards. Also notable is Mancini’s memorable (and Oscar-winning) “Moon River,” which
But the project that is most closely linked to Edwards’ comedic genius is The Pink Panther. Although most of us think of the panther in his cartoon incarnation, in the film the Pink Panther is actually a large pink diamond. This film also featured intense, memorable music by Mancini, music that would be associated with the cartoon as well.
Edwards worked closely with British actor Peter Sellers, who gave life to the character of Inspector Jacques Clouseau. This inept detective forever shaped comedic representations of bumbling police, including the popular and ongoing character of Inspector Gadget. There would ultimately be a total of 11 Pink Panther films, the most recent being The Pink Panther 2 (2009).
Are You Looking for a Smile?
If you’re looking for a feel-good film that can bring a smile to your face, there is plenty to choose from in Edwards’ work.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for someone to help maintain or improve your smile, Dr. Hodges can help you at élan. We can’t make your smile as iconic as Golightly’s, but we can make it as pretty. Please call (918) 528-3330 today for an appointment.