The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976) Director: Blake Edwards
“You’ve ruined that piano! …that’s a priceless Steinway!”
A hilarious follow-up to one of my favorite comedy films of all-time (Return of the Pink Panther) The Pink Panther Strikes Again showcases many of Peter Sellers’s revives best gags –stumbling around Europe, mispronouncing words, employing a ridiculously heavy French accent, driving his old boss to the brink of madness.
The story picks up where we left off in the previous movie –we find the eye-twitching Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) recovering in an insane asylum, nearing the end of his fanatical obsession with the bumbling and incompetent French Inspector Clouseau. Meanwhile, Clouseau has actually been appointed Chief Inspector in one of the oldest and most hilarious tropes in comedy: when the fools replace the experts in positions of authority. However, at Dreyfus’s hearing for release from the asylum, Inspector Clouseau (reprised by the brilliant Peter Sellers whose heavily thick French accent continues) spontaneously shows up to speak on the former Chief’s behalf. Naturally chaos ensues. Within minutes Dreyfus has fallen into a lake and his obsession with Clouseau is re-triggered. He escapes from the asylum and hatches a bomb plot at Clouseau’s residence while Clouseau and his servant Cato (Burt Kwouk) are caught in the midst of one of their infamous surprise attack ploys. The doorbell rings and Clouseau dons an inflatable costume and manages to escape the bomb’s explosion while soaring over Paris like a balloon.
After his failure, Dreyfus is driven completely over the edge. He now dwells in a medieval castle and kidnaps a Physicist named Professor Fassbender along with his daughter in order to create a doomsday machine. Clouseau is then called away to investigate the disappearance of Fassbender. He visits Fassbender’s personal home in a hilarious scene wherein his clumsiness manages to destroy a priceless steinway piano, and then he lights himself on fire, and smacks himself with a medieval mace that is accidentally stuck to his arm.
From here, Clouseau follows a clue to Germany while Dreyfus becomes an international criminal. He destroys the United Nations and extorts the countries of the world to assassinate Clouseau. However, somehow due to Clouseau’s ignorance and clumsiness, the hit men mostly manage to kill each other instead. Clouseau is eventually led to Dreyfus’s castle in Bavaria. Dreyfus is given a false report that Clouseau has died, and he calls for a dentist to solve a painful tooth ache he has been suffering from throughout the film. Thus Clouseau disguises himself as an obscure German dentist but he accidentally intoxicates both he and Dreyfus with nitrous oxide leading to a hysterical laughing fit. Clouseau manages to turn the doomsday machine on Dreyfus and his castle. Clouseau rescues the professor and his daughter as they escape the disappearing castle while Dreyfus eye twitch is the last part of his body to survive. It is an absurd end for an absurd plot.
In an epilogue, Clouseau nearly consummates his romance with one of his female assassins but suddenly Cato launches a surprise-attack. The whole bed is hurled out the window into the Seine in a cataclysmic but appropriately chaotic end to the film.
The original The Pink Panther Strikes Again had over three hours of footage but the studio made Edwards thin it down considerably. The extraneous footage would later be used in a future Pink Panther film (Trail of the Pink Panther). Apparently, Peter Sellers and Blake Edwards’ relationship fell to an all-time low during this film (Sellers had been struggling with heart issues from the previous Pink Panther installment). He was unhappy with the final cut of the film and publicly criticized Blake Edwards for it. Their tense relationship is noted in the next Pink Panther movie’s opening credits (Revenge of the Pink Panther) listing it as a “Sellers-Edwards” production. Due to Sellers’s heart condition a stunt double stood in for him in this film. Interestingly enough Julie Andrews provides a singing voice for this movie. Below is one of the classic lines from the movie:
Clouseau: “Does your dog bite?”
Hotelier: “No” (Clouseau bends down to pet the dog and it immediately bites him.)
Clouseau: “I thought you said your dog did not bite!”
Hotelier: “That is not my dog.”
This was one of my favorite comedy films too and my favorite Pink Panther film. The ending is hilariously timeless with Sellers as Clouseau trying to get his tie off. It would be a big challenge today for any director to recapture the magic that films like these could so wonderfully achieve during their times. Thanks for your review.
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