The Return of the Pink Panther (1975)
UK / English
Inspector Clouseau is put on the case when the Pink Panther diamond is stolen, with the Phantom's trademark glove the only clue.
Guaranteed to Tickle You Pink
Although it's already Peter Sellers' third outing in the series, "The
Return of the Pink Panther" sets the tone for all of the Pink Panther
movies still to come. Fast, furious, wacky, and hilarious.
In fact, this movie is, in many respects, the movie the first should
have been. The plot once again revolves around the Pink Panther
diamond. The chief suspect is once again Sir Charles "The Phantom"
Lytton. And, of course, Peter Sellers is once again on the case as the
one-of-a-kind Jacques Clouseau.
Class act David Niven has been replaced by the equally classy
Christopher Plummer ("Murder by Decree", "The Sound of Music",
"Dragnet"). His portrayal of Sir Charles is more dashing and youthful
than Niven's. In this film, his character is also more likable, simply
because he's working alongside Clouseau rather than against him.
And Inspector Clouseau, the underdog, is now, finally, the hero. He's
been demoted to bumbling Parisian street cop by his slightly crooked
boss, Chief Inspector Dreyfus (played hilariously for the second time
by Herbert Lom.) Then the president of Lugash specifically requests
Clouseau be restated in order to find the Pink Panther diamond, which
has been stolen from a museum. The return of the Pink Panther diamond
is Clouseau's responsibility.
The film is divided between Clouseau's quest to find Sir Charles, whom
he blames for the Panther's disappearance, and Sir Charles' quest to
find the Panther and by doing so clear his name. Clouseau's adventure
is filled with more slapstick than in either of the previous two films,
and good slapstick, at that. Peter Sellers plays Clouseau in the way
that only he could, with results that are guaranteed to make any comedy
fan laugh. Meanwhile, Sir Charles' side of the story is filled with
action and international intrigue, in a plot that's absurd and
confusing, but to be expected from a Pink Panther film. Graham Stark,
who played Clouseau's partner in "A Shot in the Dark", now appears as
Sir Charles' put-upon underworld informant.
All is finally right with the Pink Panther universe. Sir Charles is
finally likable. It's okay to empathize towards Clouseau. And there's
humor in the romantic cat-and-mouse game between Sir Charles' new bride
and Clouseau. Lady Lytton is played by Catherine Schell ("On Her
Majesty's Secret Service"), and is, interestingly enough, not the
ex-Mrs. Clouseau, one of the earliest cracks in the series' fragile
continuity. However, it's amusing to see Lady Lytton take advantage of
Clouseau and those around her, whereas in the first movie it just
seemed unfair when Clouseau's wife treated him the same way.
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