Edwards was greatly admired as well as strongly criticized as a filmmaker during his career. On the negative side, general critique included this by American film author George Morris:
It has been difficult for many critics to accept Blake Edwards as anything more than a popular entertainer. Edwards' detractors acknowledge his formal skill but deplore the absence of profundity in his movies. Edwards' movies are slick and glossy, but their shiny surfaces reflect all too accurately the disposable values of contemporary life.
But others recognized him more for his significant achievements at different periods of his career. British film critic Peter Lloyd, for example, described Edwards, in 1971, as "the finest director working in the American commercial cinema at the present time." Edwards' biographers, William Luhr and Peter Lehman, in an interview in 1974, called him "the finest American director working at this time." They refer especially to the Pink Panther's Clouseau, developed with the comedic skills of Peter Sellers, as a character "perfectly consistent" with his "absurdist view of the world, because he has no faith in anything and constantly adapts." Critic Stuart Byron calls his early Pink Panther films "two of the best comedies an American has ever made." Polls taken at the time showed that his name, as a director, was a rare "marketable commodity" in Hollywood.
Edwards himself described one of the secrets to success in the film industry:
For someone who wants to practice his art in this business, all you can hope to do, as S.O.B. says, is stick to your guns, make the compromises you must, and hope that somewhere along the way you acquire a few good friends who understand. And keep half a conscience."
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