|by Charles Tatum
The Pink Panther movies will forever be synonymous with the name Peter Sellers. The British comedian made the character of Inspector Clousseau his very own and kept fans laughing for the best part of a decade. Unfortunatley, Sellers is no longer with us, but at least his films have been captured in a single DVD collection. Sadly, this collection of five films plus extras is notable for one conspicuous absence.
Disc 1: "The Pink Panther"
The first Pink Panther film has Peter Sellers reduced to a supporting role, as the film makers were not aware that his character would be such a hit. Sir Charles (David Niven), rumored to be the notorious cat burglar "the Phantom" woos a princess (the drop dead stunningly gorgeous Claudia Cardinale) who also happens to own the Pink Panther, the world's largest diamond. Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers) investigates not aware that his own wife (Capucine) is conspiring with Charles. Since David Niven is the star of the film, he has the most scenes, and some of the slowest ones. Edwards' trademark slapstick is underwhelming in this tepid sex comedy, watch for the seduction scene between Niven, Cardinale, and a tiger skin rug that literally goes on forever, and had me checking the dormant VCR clock. I do recommend the lovely scenery, all in glorious widescreen. (3/5*)
Disc 2: "A Shot in the Dark"
My favorite Inspector Clouseau film has the nitwit investigating a series of murders at a mansion owned by George Sanders. The maid Maria (Elke Sommer) is suspected, and Clouseau falls for her despite the overwhelming evidence that she is guilty. A wonderful balance of slapstick and characterization, with classic scenes all around. In "Son of Pink Panther," Claudia Cardinale plays Maria, confusing anyone who followed the series. This film also first introduced Clouseau's boss Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) and manservant Kato (Burt Kwouk). (5/5*)
Disc 3: "The Pink Panther Strikes Again"
Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) finally goes off the deep end, and builds a doomsday device in order to kill one man- Jacques Clouseau. This may be one of the silliest films ever made, with hit and miss gags, but you can see where the inspiration for Mike Myers' Austin Powers series comes from. Weak special effects do not help, although a Tom Jones song has never been used in a funnier manner. (3/5*)
Disc 4: "Revenge of the Pink Panther"
The last film to feature original footage of Sellers, and the weakest. A multinational conglomerate and the mob all want Clouseau dead, and they think they have succeeded in killing him, so he teams with the company's boss' former secretary Dyan Cannon to catch the bad guys in Hong Kong. There is an over reliance on Clouseau in disguise, perhaps to hide an ailing Sellers, who suffered from a heart condition and died at the young age of 55. The rest of this just is not very funny, or interesting. (2/5*)
Disc 5: "Trail of the Pink Panther"
After Peter Sellers died, Blake Edwards shot this monstrosity around unused footage of Clouseau from previous films. Here, Clouseau is missing and reporter Joanna Lumley investigates, visiting former friends and enemies of the inspector. If Edwards meant this as a tribute, then he is way off base as tired footage from previous films is unsuccessfully intercut with Lumley. Very sad. (1/5*)
Disc 6: Bonus Disc
This disc contains two very interesting documentaries. One traces the birth of the Inspector Clouseau character, featuring interviews with the director and crew. The Pink Panther cartoon character gets his own documentary, and the DVD makers wisely put about ten cartoons on the disc, some of which I have not seen since I was a kid. All in all, very entertaining, considering most "making of" DVD documentaries are as enlightening as Bill Clinton under oath. (5/5*)
All the films are in widescreen presentation, which is great for those of us who have had to suffer through the pan and scan versions of these films on home video for years. A nice collection that I do recommend for fans...what? Something's missing? Christopher Plummer? Yeah, I wondered about that, too. There were no Pink Panther films between "A Shot in the Dark" and "Return of the Pink Panther," which featured Christopher Plummer in the role of Sir Charles. For some unknown reason, that film is not in the collection! Watching the documentaries mention it, and the case being referenced in later films, it is a mystery why this was left off, yet "Trail of the Pink Panther" was included. Of course, "Curse of the Pink Panther" and "Son of the Pink Panther" were also left off, but with good reason since they were awful.
"The Pink Panther Film Collection" is by no means perfect, or complete for that matter. As Hollywood gears up yet another ill conceived remake, with Steve Martin in the Clouseau role, and Kevin Kline as Dreyfus, at least we have these films to remember how funny Sellers was and how good Edwards used to be.
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originally posted: 06/07/04 14:44:46
last updated: 10/16/04 15:22:12