As with most film franchises, the
longer the Pink Panther series
went on, the less inspired and
more formulaic it became.
However, The Pink Panther is a
cracker, starring David Niven as a
high-class thief trying to swipe the
Pink Panther diamond and Peter
Sellers as the bumbling Inspector
Clouseau trying to track him down.
One thing that the series never lost
was its sense of style which is very
pronounced here, in Blake Edwards'
direction, the groovy animation over
the credits and Henri Mancini's music.
A Shot in the Dark is the first film to
centre specifically on Clouseau, this
time during his quest to prove a young
girl innocent. Needless to say, Sellers
takes every opportunity to hog the
screen, whether terrorising Herbert
Lom's Sgt Dreyfus or trying to fit in
at a nudist colony.
The Pink Panther Strikes Again finds
the long-suffering Dreyfus out of his
mind and vowing to rid the world of
his incompetent nemesis once and for
all. Loads of fun, even if it is just loads
of film references and slapstick, plus
Sellers pratting about in disguises.
Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978)
sees the franchise seriously running
out of steam. Not that the formula had
changed that much - Clouseau is still
useless, Cato is still of indeterminate
oriental origin, Dreyfus is still mad. The
problem comes with the jokes, which
are either weak or racist.
Last and by all means least comes
Trail of the Pink Panther, the cinematic
equivalent of a clips episode of a
sitcom. Sellers was dead by this time
and naturally so was Clouseau (in
inevitably mysterious circumstances).
A reporter (Joanna Lumley) wants to
find out what happened and she won't
rest until she's been through every
'classic' scene and ropey old bit of
footage she can find.
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