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The Pink Panther (1963)

by on 2012/01/29

“At times like these, I wish I was but a simple peasant.”

* * *

I’ll bet you didn’t know that I own every single movie that I review. Yes, it is true. With very few exceptions, every single movie I have discussed and dissected on this site – all 207 of them, now 208 –  I own. And so many more besides.

I have trouble getting rid of any film I even moderately enjoyed. Film is important. It is like canned goods, water and flashlights. I need movies around me, you know, in case of emergencies.

My Pink Panther movie collection is particularly precious to me. It is in a slick black box with every single film in the collection. Well, not every one. I had to buy Alan Arkin’s  (Edward Scissorhands) Inspector Clouseau separately.

In honour of my genre ‘firsts’ bender this month, I slid this collection from the shelf and popped the first of the legendary series into my Playstation 3.

I’ve seen the others in the series many, many times. As a naturally clumsy person myself, I both love and identify with Inspector Clouseau played by the immortal Peter Sellers.

This movie, despite Peter Sellers prominence on the cover of the film, has a lot of David Niven and not very much Peter Sellers. Or at least not enough for me.

This is a slightly more tragic version of the stumbling, painfully earnest Inspector. He is married to a hateful, unfaithful wife Simone (Capucine). Oblivious to her infidelity, the bumbling Sûreté official is hot on the trail of a notorious jewel thief called the Phantom.

Along the trail there’s a ski resort vacation, a lovely princess, a mythical pink jewel, and some falling down.

Dala, the princess with the Pink Panther jewel, is played by the lovely Claudia Cardinale. I can’t say enough of how captivating Claudia Cardinale is. There’s also an insanely young-looking Robert Wagner playing the shiftless, groping nephew of Sir Charles Lytton (Niven).

In this first instalment directed by Blake Edwards, I found some of the settings,  clothing, jewelry and hairstyles more interesting than the antics of the players. I feel a bit sad saying this. This French farce-styled comedy has lots of falling in and out of beds, hiding from husbands in showers, but not enough Inspector.

Fortunately, the rest of the series has all the Inspector I need for years to come. As the Simone, Clouseau’s cheating wife, said: “It is times like these that make me realize how lucky I really am. “

* * *

113 minutes

Rated PG for David Niven in a dressing gown, Robert Wagner hiding under a woman in a bathtub, smoking, drinking, cheating and thieving

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