Blu-ray Review – The Pink Panther Film Collection Starring Peter Sellers

The Pink Panther Film Collection Starring Peter Sellers

Director: Blake Edwards  

Released: June 27, 2017 from Shout! Select

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Average Score: 6.33

This is difficult for me to say. I have a long relationship with the Pink Panther films but now, being a student of Keaton/Chaplin/Lloyd, much of Clouseau’s physical comedy feels passé. These are well made films and they are still enjoyable just not as much as they would be to a younger, less weathered, viewer.

Visually these films are immaculate with new 4K scans of A Shot in the Dark and The Pink Panther Strikes Again. I had watched The Pink Panther on an older 720p television and the rest on a 4k and the difference is noticeable. (I have no doubt that the original looks any less than spectacular on the 4k television.) Please note, though, that due to the high quality it is very clear that the overlays on some of the driving scenes are poorly edited, it is noticeable but not distracting.

I can easily recommend this set because this is the first time, due to right issues, that all of the Peter Sellers episodes are collected together. For Panther fans you are going to see some of these films in a higher resolution and detail then you ever have before. As of this writing Shoutfactory.com has the set on sale for $79.99 with an MSRP of $99.99 which is a bit pricey but is with all of the interviews and commentaries this will likely be the gold standard for some time to come.

I should probably mention the cartoon introductions by Friz Freling’s company because it was re-runs of the Saturday morning cartoon which introduced the character to me. The later skits started to pull in cinematic references to the character of Clouseau and appear to be a cinephiles dream.

The Pink Panther

Screenplay: Maurice Richlin and Blake Edwards

Minutes: 115

Year: 1963

Score: 6.93

From Shout Select:

Meet Inspector Jacques Clouseau, the bumbling French detective whose career is one gigantic banana peel. Showcasing the comic genius of Peter Sellers, this “delightful caper” (Leonard Maltin) brims with “winning charm” (The Film Daily) and clever slapstick. David Niven, Robert Wagner and Capucine co-star in the sidesplitting film that launched one of the greatest comedy series of all time!

Arriving at an Italian ski resort with a large diamond known as the Pink Panther, Princess Dala (Claudia Cardinale) encounters the suave Sir Charles (Niven), who also happens to be the notorious jewel thief The Phantom. Can Clouseau (Sellers), the clumsiest inspector ever to trip over a case, stop Sir Charles’ plot…or will The Phantom steal the “cat” and leave Clouseau holding the bag?

I have probably watched this film half a dozen times and with each viewing I am giggling throughout. Sellers has not yet turned the character into a caricature so there is a freshness which is quickly drained away in the next film.

As I said earlier, knowing what I know now about slapstick does have a negative effect on watching Sellers work on expanding on his craft as the film progresses is interesting, it is in future films that they are start to become stale. This first film, though, deserves to be seen, early and often.

Director: 7 – Cinematography: 8 –  Edit: 7 – Parity: 3 – Main performance: 9 – Else performance: 5 – Score: 8 – Sound: 5 – Story: 6 – Script: 8 – Effects: 6 – Design: 7 – Costumes: 8 – Keeps interest: 7 – Lasting: 10

A Short in the Dark

Screenplay:  Blake Edwards and William Peter Blatty 

Minutes: 102

Year: 1964

Score: 5.87

From Shout Select:

When a beautiful parlor maid (Elke Sommer) is accused of murdering her lover, the nutty Inspector (Sellers) leaps…er, falls…into the fray to save her in this irrepressibly funny Pink Panther classic.

The French have a word for a man like Clouseau: idot! Across Paris, baffled citizens want to know if the inspector is in hot pursuit of a criminal…or just in love with one! Mistakenly assigned to a high-prestige case in which a millionaire’s chauffer has been murdered, Clouseau finds himself falling for the prime suspect – a beautiful parlormaid whose talent for being in the wrong place at the wrong time is almost as great as his. But as the body count grows higher, and the parlormaid’s criminal record grows longer, Clouseau realizes he’ll have to find the “real” culprit quickly or his career will be flint!

This second episode is an example of not titling your film after a McGuffin. Marketing this film must have been a nightmare. One thing which definitely didn’t bother me during my first go around with the film is how Sellers calling Burt Kwouk’s Kato, “my yellow friend.” But this has become nails on a chalkboard to me now.

I did enjoy the story but Clouseau quickly becomes goofier than he is funny within minutes on screen and the film starts to drag with each red herring. Not the worst in the set, but far from my favorite.

Director: 5 – Cinematography: 6 –  Edit: 5 – Parity: 0 – Main performance: 10 – Else performance: 3 – Score: 6 – Sound: 5 – Story: 7 – Script: 8 – Effects: 5 – Design: 6 – Costumes: 9 – Keeps interest: 8 – Lasting: 5

Return of the Pink Panther

Screenplay: Frank Waldman and Blake Edwards

Minutes: 113

Year: 1975

Score: 5.93

From Shout Select:

The comic genius of Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers meet again in The Return of the Pink Panther. The Pink Panther Diamond is stolen with only one clue left behind – a white glove, the trademark of the world-renowned jewel thief, The Phantom (Christopher Plummer). Believed to be retired, he immediately becomes the chief suspect on Inspector Clouseau’s list. Wanting to clear his name, The Phantom sets out to find the real thief and sends Clouseau bumbling along on a false trail. Inspector Clouseau’s antics finally push his boss, Chief Inspector Dreyfus, over the edge and he sets out to murder Clouseau to be rid of him once and for all!

It’s non-stop laughs in this timeless comedy masterpiece, hailed as the funniest in The Pink Panther series.

If the whole movie was as well choreographed as the opening heist scene, then I could have enjoyed it much more than I did. Unfortunately, it would only take 20 minutes to pull me out of the film. Recasting The Phantom was a bit bothersome but Plummer is at least physically more characteristic of a jewel thief than was David Niven.

Director: 5 – Cinematography: 6 –  Edit: 5 – Parity: 3 – Main performance: 8 – Else performance: 4 – Score: 8 – Sound: 5 – Story: 4 – Script: 8 – Effects: 9 – Design: 6 – Costumes: 5 – Keeps interest: 8 – Lasting: 5

Pink Panther Strikes Again

Screenplay: Frank Waldman and Blake Edwards 

Minutes: 103

Year: 1976

Score: 5.53

From Shout Select:

Peter Sellers is “in top form” (Cue) in this zany adventure that finds the accident-prone Inspector Clouseau using some of his most outlandish disguises ever. With “ferociously funny karate encounters” (Time) with the enigmatic Cato (Burt Kwouk) and dangerous intrigue with a sexy Russian spy (Lesley-Anne Down), this hysterical comedy will strike your funny bone!

Driven over the edge by the maddeningly incompetent Clouseau, former Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) commandeers a doomsday device and threatens to destroy the world. His only demand? Clouseau’s death! But thanks to his nemesis’ dumb luck, the assassins hired to kill him can’t seem to finish the job – although Clouseau may do it himself by tripping over his own two feet!

This one is just kind of dumb. Sorry if it is your favorite. It may be safe to say that Austin Powers lifts a lot from this film and that may be the best outcome. I am very surprised that they kept making films after this one but I am glad that I did.

Director: 5 – Cinematography: 4 –  Edit: 5 – Parity: 1 – Main performance: 7 – Else performance: 4 – Score: 6 – Sound: 5 – Story: 5 – Script: 8 – Effects: 8 – Design: 8 – Costumes: 6 – Keeps interest: 6 – Lasting: 5

Revenge of the Pink Panther

Screenplay: Frank Waldman, Ron Clark and Blake Edwards

Minutes: 104

Year: 1978

Score: 7.07

From Shout Select:

Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) happily believes that Clouseau has died in an explosion, but in reality, he’s alive and busy mangling a case! Using absurdly mismatched costumes and accents, Clouseau travels to Hong Kong to intercept a major heroin deal, bringing Cato (Burt Kwouk) and the drug lord’s jilted lover (Cannon) with him. The only problem is, Dreyfus is on the case too!

While the previous episode is mentally difficult this one is magnificent. I feel like they really accepted how nonsensical everything is and just make a screwball comedy and turned Clouseau into a seeming invulnerable genius rather than a lucky, racist, idiot, and it worked.

I imagine that I may be alone in this opinion but Revenge of the Pink Panther is my favorite of the Clouseau films; this is the one in which they caught lightning in a bottle. I can see the formula of this film in a great many modern comedies.

Director: 8 – Cinematography: 8 –  Edit: 5 – Parity: 3 – Main performance: 8 – Else performance: 4 – Score: 8 – Sound: 6 – Story: 8 – Script: 9 – Effects: 8 – Design: 6 – Costumes: 8 – Keeps interest: 7 – Lasting: 10

Trail of the Pink Panther

Screenplay: Frank Waldman, Tom Waldman, Blake Edwards and Geoffrey Edwards 

Minutes: 96

Year: 1982

Score: 6.67

From Shout Select:

Inspector Clouseau, the lovable buffoon with a knack for mispronunciation, is MIA! The terrifically talented Peter Sellers “induces gales of tonic laughter” (The Hollywood Reporter) in this wild adventure co-starring the full Panther ensemble cast, including David Niven, Herbert Lom, Burt Kwouk and Capucine, along with newcomers Joanna Lumley, Richard Mulligan and Harvey Korman.

The Pink Panther diamond goes missing – and then en route to the scene of the crime, Clouseau’s plane goes missing! A sleuthing reporter (Lumley) is assigned to memorialize the fabled detective, but in the process, she comes up against some strange behavior from a delirious Dreyfus (Lom) as well as Clouseau’s duplicitous ex-wife (Capucine), his lusty father (Mulligan) and The Phantom (Niven)!

This film was made after Peter Sellers’ death, with all his scenes in film consisting of outtakes and deleted footage from other Pink Panther films.

This one is sad, considering that Peter Sellers died during pre-production. Blake Edwards did right by the character crafting this greatest hits clip package highlighting how memorable his time was with Sellers and the main characters. I am surprised by how much I enjoyed this film.

Director: 6 – Cinematography: 6 –  Edit: 7 – Parity: 4 – Main performance: 6 – Else performance: 5 – Score: 7 – Sound: 6 – Story: 8 – Script: 7 – Effects: 6 – Design: 7 – Costumes: 7 – Keeps interest: 8 – Lasting: 10

 

 

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