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Featured Movie Reviews

The Pink Panther

Updated: Mar 30, 2023

My first exposure to The Pink Panther films were the Peter Sellers films of the mid 70’s, loaded with Sellers’ flawless verbal & physical slapstick as the bumbling Inspector Clouseau.

Watching Blake Edwards original 1963 THE PINK PANTHER, I was surprised that Clouseau is almost a supporting character, albeit to a great cast and a clever caper.

He’s on the trail of famous jewel thief, “The Phantom” who leaves behind a single glove at the scene of every crime.

But who is the Phantom?

David Niven is Sir Charles Lytton, the ultimate international playboy, with his eyes on Princess Dala (the gorgeous Claudia Cardinale) owner of the Pink Panther, the largest diamond in the world. She’s brought the diamond with her to a ski resort.

Lytton’s nephew George (Robert Wagner, looking VERY young!) arrives with his skis and a plan to steal the diamond and blame it on The Phantom.

Clouseau checks in with his wife Simone (Capucine) who proves to be much more than just an inspector’s wife! Capucine is a lot of fun as she constantly fools her inept policeman husband.

Sellers is flawless as Clouseau, as passionate as he is clumsy. Several thieves cross under his nose countless times and director Blake Edwards (10, Victor/Victoria) keeps many funny sublots spinning at once, building to a climax in which they all collide, generating unending laughs.

Edwards filmed with multiple cameras to capture Sellers constant improvisation.

Originally intended as a starring vehicle for Niven, Sellers portrayal of Clouseau became a powerhouse during filming and the part kept growing. The character was originally just a serious inspector in the script, but once Sellers was cast, film history was made.

The car chase at the end of the film is hilarious and perfectly executed, as is a masquerade party with way too many gorillas in attendance.

Henry Mancini’s music score is one of the most recognizable at the movies. Fran Jeffries performance of “It Had Better Be Tonight” at the ski lodge is 60’s perfection.

The second Clouseau film, “A Shot in the Dark” was released just three months after this film and a total of nine Sellers films in the series hit theatres between 1964 and 1993.

Roberto Benigni and Steve Martin took over the role in remakes, but I’ve never seen any of them. No one could ever come close to Sellers from my view.

This original is fascinating to see the roots of Sellers portrayal. His performance would become broader, and his accent grew far more outrageous as the films went on. This first time in the role is pure fun, perfectly executed.

Niven, Wagner, Cardinale and Capucine provide hilarious support, as do the main and end titles with that famous animated Pink Panther courtesy of animation legends DePatie/Freleng.


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