The Return of the Pink Panther Blu-ray Review
Each scene with Clouseau is comic gold
Does Sir Charles Litton have a swimming pewl?
A swimming … pewl?Created by director Blake Edwards and comedic talent Peter Sellers, Inspector Clouseau of the Sûreté, was rich pickings for cinematic fame. The story of a fool, bumbling his way through life, in the tradition of the comedic greats (Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd and Laurel and Hardy) first saw the cinematic light in 1963’s The Pink Panther where he was simply a bit part player. The potential in the character was clearly enormous and he was given his first lead in 1964’s A Shot in the Dark (another terrific film). It is, however, with his triumphant return to the screen in The Return of the Pink Panther, that he really made his mark, making the movie one of the most successful in the franchise before the series deteriorated into parody and dismay.The story is incredibly simple, the fabulous Pink Panther, the most famous and expensive diamond in the world is stolen, once again, and Clouseau is re-instated as Inspector to try and track it down, while trying to prove that the notorious Sir Charles Litton is the infamous Phantom, the thief who stole it last time. What ensues is a story of idiocy as Clouseau proceeds to wreck everything in his path while a mysterious assassin tries to eliminate him. The picture contains too many comedy gold scenes to name and Sellers is in top form making the most of his comic creation. Produced outside of the other Pink Panther films it nevertheless propelled the franchise to new heights and is recognised as one of the best the series has to offer.
Picture QualityThe disc presents a theatrically correct widescreen 2.35:1 1080p transfer using the AVC codec and is Region locked to B.
Oh dear. At least it’s slightly better than the DVD. But that’s little consolation.
The problem is the print used for this transfer is old, and there has been no restoration or clean-up, thus the image is drab, dour and just plain ugly. There has been a step up in the detail levels, the rhinestones on the Phantom’s glove, or the fake nose on Clouseau are far better defined than before. But distance shots, or landscape establishing shots are little better than DVD with finite edges being soft and almost blurry. This is hampered by the almost unchecked grain that crawls over the frame, with stock footage looking horrendous and shot footage not that much better; now I don’t mind grain, but this was grim.
A shocking picture
Some colours are pretty vivid, with the primaries being reasonably well represented; the blue waters of the swimming pools look inviting enough to jump in, while the sun bleached streets of Lugash are just as warm – check out Clouseau’s red jacket! Contrast and brightness are badly set, though, the contrast is pushed a notch too high, so whilst this gives some depth to the blacks it also clips plenty of whites, washes out some of the colour and robbing the picture of any texture; and this together with the poor print, crawling grain and print damage make this one of the worst looking titles I’ve seen in many years. A real shame.
Sound QualityOnly a single track of English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo and it’s not too bad. OK, it too has not been cleaned-up but at least the source is good enough that it displays no distortion, hiss or dropouts. Dialogue sounds nice and natural and whilst there are no effects to speak of, the soundstage and separations are pretty wide. Mancini’s iconic score comes through very well, making the best use of the bass; it is well layered into the mix and is the best sounding aspect of the track. Post-Production recordings and effects do stand out a little, but on the whole it’s nothing that interferes with the enjoyment of the track, allowing it to get its information across well.
ExtrasNone whatsoever, a static menu and no subtitles either!
Blu-ray VerdictThe Return of the Pink Panther was exactly that, Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers returning to a franchise and character that had lain dormant for over a decade, bursting back onto the screen in terrific fashion with both the director and star being on top form. The film is near laugh-a-minute with many of the comedic tropes that the series is famous for and each scene with Clouseau is comic gold; I have been quoting lines from this film for years and even though I know it back to front it still has me laughing out loud, I love it.
A very shoddy release
As a Blu-ray package, it is pretty shocking, the film itself is great, but the picture is simply awful; drab, pushed contrast that clips the whites and crawling grain and print damage - this has to be one of the worst looking pictures available in years. The sound is OK for a lossless stereo track with Mancini’s terrific score being the highlight. To top this off, there are no extras, subtitles or menus to speak of, resulting in a very poor release indeed. It saddens me to say that although I love the film, this is a very shoddy release and is probably best avoided.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £15.99
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