Welcome to this week’s installment of “It Came from the Bargain Bin!” Nowadays we throw around the term “classic” often. Whether we are using the word classic to express our appreciation for something (that’s classic!) or we are using the term in recognition of somebody or something that has withstood the test of time, classic is a term that is used, hmmmmmm maybe too often and often used incorrectly much like the term genius which is abused regularly. This week’s selection from The Bargain Bin spawned a series of films, some of which did well and others that well, didn’t do so hot and a cartoon, that I enjoyed watching as a child and still do get a kick out of watching when I come across it on the old Boob-Tube, that ran successfully from 1964 to 1978. Not to mention this particular comedy from 1963 birthed a catchy little number courtesy of one Henry Mancini, that if you’ve heard it once it sticks with you forever, you remember…… Dadant, dadant, dadant, dadant,dadant,dadant, dadaaaaaant, dadadadantant, something like that anyway. You know exactly what film I am referring to here so lets get to the review of the 1963 classic? starring the unforgettable Peter Sellers…………..The Pink Panther!
The Pink Panther (1963)
Director: Blake Edwards
Written By: Maurice Richlin and Blake Edwards
Starring: Peter Sellers, David Niven, and Robert Wagner
Reviewed By: Joe Sikes
“Once upon a time” a child titled Princess Dala (Claudia Cardinale) receives a precious diamond from her father, The Shah of Lugash. The diamond is known as “The Pink Panther” due to its flaw, a slight discoloration that resembles a pink panther from which the diamond has gained its unique name. Next, we head to Rome where a jewel heist is in progress and pulled off successfully. From Rome we head to Hollywood, U.S.A. where some gentleman are getting their graduation photographs done. George Lytton (Robert Wagner) is one of the graduates whom apparently is in some trouble with some nefarious gangster-like individuals that show up at the photography studio to take care of business with Mr. Lytton. George narrowly escapes the clutches of these tough guys and we break to gay old Paris where a gentleman is “reading” a Rome newspaper with the headline reading ”The Phantom” Strikes Again; Half Million In Gems Stolen.” The curious gentleman meets with a woman sporting sunglasses (Capucine) who hands him some “merchandise” and declares that the goods are worth “half a million but we’ll settle for three hundred thousand.” The police arrive right away and the two individuals make a break for it and escape without incident. Enter a visibly perturbed Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Peter Sellers) whom adamantly declares to his cohort that “we must find that woman! She is our first positive link with The Phantom!” That woman of course being the woman who narrowly escaped the police in Paris.
While the bumbling, hard working Inspector Clouseau is dealing with the task at hand we head to Cortina D’ampezzo where the “well off” are enjoying a holiday of skiing the slopes and where there are people with riches there are people there who are seeking out said riches. In this case one of the seekers is none other than Sir Charles Lytton (David Niven) who just so happens to be the father of the previously mentioned George Lytton. Inspector Clouseau soon arrives in Cortina D’ampezzo where he falls upon (literally) Sir Charles Lytton but of course the Inspector has no clue as to whom he has stumbled upon. From here on in we are entertained by a physical comedy of errors, courtesy of Inspector Clouseau, whom may or may not finally catch the jewel thieves that are closer to him than he ever imagined.
The Pink Panther posed to be a difficult review being that it is a suspense/mystery as much as it is a stage for the hilarious Peter Sellers to display his knack for playing the accident prone Inspector Clouseau. I did not want to give too much away but at the same time give you a good idea of what the film is about as well as express the role of each leading character. Nonetheless the real draw of this movie is of course the one and only Peter Sellers as Jacques Clouseau and the fact that he outshined David Niven is no small feat seeing as though The Pink Panther was really supposed to highlight David Niven rather than Mr. Sellers. The Pink Panther shot the talented writer/director Blake Edwards and the laugh out loud comedic actor Peter Sellers into the stratosphere setting off more Pink Panther movies, the wildly popular cartoon by the same name that ran for fourteen years, and unfortunately the new abominations starring Steve Martin as Inspector Clouseau (but we won’t count these recent failed attempts at re-capturing the magic that was created fifty years ago). Now, is The Pink Panther a classic? I believe that there is no question that this hit from 1963 is indeed a comedy classic that all movie buffs and just plain comedy fans must see. What do you think? I give The Pink Panther a definite 3 out of 3 bumbling Inspectors. See you next week with another pick from The Bin.