Movie Reviews

Movie Review: The Pink Panther (1963) – Lost Some Charm to the Test of Time

Written by Maurice Richlin and Blake Edwards
Directed by Blake Edwards

I can remember my parents taking me to see The Pink Panther in my youth when it was re-released to theaters at some point, most likely before one of the sequels was made.  It made an impression on me, not just because it was one of the first mature films I went to see, but because of the comedy. Perhaps that is why my sense of humor is said to be skewed at times.  Watching it again all these years later, the humor doesn’t resonate with me the same as it did in my younger days, and I came away from it with more of a sense of sadness as if I’d just lost a treasure of sorts.

The film opens with a bit of the background on the diamond that will become known as the Pink Panther in the film, followed by a cartoon of the Pink Panther many of us have gotten to know through the years and Inspector Clouseau.

The movie then cuts to Rome where a burglary is about to take place.  There is some confusion as it cuts to Hollywood, then to Paris, but it will all eventually tie together.

Inspector Clouseau (portrayed by Peter Sellers) is introduced to the audience, looking for a woman who is part of a ring of thieves making some pretty high-profile thefts.  The audience is clued in that the woman is his wife right from the beginning, so the thief is under his proverbial nose. This does take away a bit from the story as Clouseau travels to Switzerland on the trail of the thief whom he believes will try to steal the Pink Panther diamond.  There seems to be a set-up of different suspects for the theft, but since the audience already knows who it is, this serves no point.

The pacing of the film is off a bit as well. There are moments that the film just plods along with people talking which is serving to set up part of the plot, but it really drags the film out. Today’s modern viewers, used to the break-neck pace of film and comedy, will be left wondering why it was successful in its day.

There was still plenty I liked about The Pink Panther.  There are some terrific moments of slapstick humor such as Clouseau spinning a globe then going to lean on it and falling to the floor.  He is inept and a klutz, but most likely the luckiest Inspector in the world.  The acting is terrific. Sellers is known mainly for this role and he is a great comedian even if the movie doesn’t hold up well to the test of time. Actors such as Robert Wagner and David Niven do well in secondary roles.

The music by Henry Mancini is also delightful. In addition to the theme which just about anyone can identify in a few notes, the background music is excellent and sets the tone for the film and the era it was made.

On DVD the best treasure here is the commentary by the late Blake Edwards.  I enjoyed listening to that more than the film itself.

It’s the later films in this franchise that most people remember fondly. Although not a horrible film, The Pink Panther has lost something through the years largely because of how the audience has changed. I liked it but was somewhat disappointed that it didn’t resonate with me as being as wonderful as it had been in my memories.


SPECIAL FEATURES:

• Audio Commentary by Director Blake Edwards
• Trivia Track
• Shots in the Dark (Photo Gallery)
• Original Theatrical Trailer


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