On the trail of the elusive jewel thief known only as The Phantom, bumbling French Inspector Closeau, ends up in Switzerland, in the company of the debonair Englishman Sir Charles Lytton, who should become his main suspect. For Closeau, however, the obv
The first in the mixed array of Pink Panther movies was due to be a starring vehicle for David Niven, who does take top billing, but when director Blake Edwards started to witness what Peter Sellers was doing with a secondary character, creating a level of slapstick invention harkening to the skills of Chaplin and Keaton, the film, and subsequent sequels, became all about Clouseau. While the Pink Panther of the title is none of the characters at all, it was the diamond The Phantom was after.
What could have been a slick if forgettable caper movie, was transformed into an often hilarious, and giddily paced farce revolving around this extraordinary and supposedly off-the-cuff comic creation. The brilliance of Sellers’ Clouseau is not simply in his physical ineptitude and slurring accent, but in his total lack of awareness that he is, in truth, an idiot. He is blind to everything, particularly his beautiful wife Simone’s infidelities, and carries on adoring her all the same. This would become a running gag in the series — how, above all, Clouseau was a fool for love, although, with the emphasis on the fool bit.
There’s a good bit of creeping around bedrooms in the middle of the night, but Sellers and Edwards never let it sag into anything bawdy, by the insanely hectic chase sequence, involving a thief in a gorilla suit and Clouseau in armour, the film has reached a rare height of visual complexity and confidence, jokes spinning everywhere, but never out of control.
Good clean 1960s crime fun with one of Peter Seller's greatest creations. Movie to digest roast dinners to.