Monday, April 30, 2012

Movie of the Week – The Return of the Pink Panther

This week’s movie is The Return of the Pink Panther (1975).

The comedy is the third in the Pink Panther series following Inspector Clouseau as he tracks down Sir Charles Litton who suspects is the culprit after the famous Pink Panther Diamond is stolen. The film is directed and co-written by Blake Edwards and stars Peter Sellers as Clouseau. Both Sellers and Edwards were considered to be on the decline when production started on the film, thus United Artists (who owned the rights to the characters) did not want to fund another film. Edwards found independent financing and United Artists served only as the distributor. The film went on to be a hit and served as comeback project for both their careers. Edwards worked with composer Henry Mancini (who provides a great score; here is a potion during the title sequence), brilliant cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth (known for his work on 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Bridge Too Far and Superman) and production designer Peter Mullins. The film co-stars Christopher Plummer and features Catherine Schell, Herbert Lom, Peter Arne, Graham Stark, Eric Pohlmann, and Burt Kwouk in support. While in the first two films of the series Sellers plays Clouseau to be a clumsy buffoon, starting with this one he exaggerates Clouseau’s accent, makes him somewhat of a force of chaos seemingly destroying anything he touches (to an even greater degree), but he also makes Clouseau more adept and self-aware. It is one of the greatest and funniest comedic performances. The film is full of running gags (that continue into the next two films of the series), slapstick, absurdist humor, pratfalls, and all manner of wonderful comedy. Plus, it is actually a good detective film. I think it is the second funniest (after The Pink Panther Strikes Again) in the series. It is a must-see for fans of Sellers (as he is at his best). Check out the trailer.

Available on DVD and Streaming

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