The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976) Director: Blake Edwards
“You’ve ruined that piano! …that’s a priceless Steinway!”
The Pink Panther Strikes Again is a hilarious follow-up to one of my favorite comedy films of all-time, Return of the Pink Panther. Peter Sellers revives many of his familiar gags -stumbling around Europe, mispronouncing words, employing a ridiculously heavy French accent, driving his old boss to the brink of madness.
Herbert Lom returns as the eye-twitching Chief Inspector Dreyfus. The story picks up where we left off in the previous movie -we find Dreyfus recovering in an insane asylum, nearing the end of his maddening obsession with the bumbling and incompetent French Inspector Clouseau. Meanwhile Clouseau has been appointed Chief Inspector. However, at Dreyfus’s hearing 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 plots. The doorbell rings and Clouseau dons an inflatable costume while he manages to escape the bomb’s explosion while he soars over Paris like a balloon.
After his failure Dreyfus is driven completely insane. He inhabits a castle and kidnaps a Physicist named Professor Fassbender and his daughter in order to create a doomsday machine. Clouseau is then called away to investigate the disappearance of Fassbender. He goes to Fassbender’s personal home in a hilarious scene where his clumsiness manages to destroy a priceless steinway piano, he lights himself on fire, and smacks himself with a medieval mace that is stuck on his arm.
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. Clouseau is eventually led to Dreyfus’s evil castle in Bavaria. Dreyfus is given a false report that Clouseau has died, and he calls for a dentist to solve a tooth ache he has been suffering with throughout the film. Thus Clouseau disguises himself as an obscure German dentist but he accidentally intoxicates both he and Dreyfus with nitrous oxide. 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 as 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. 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). Sellers was unhappy with the final cut of the film and publicly criticized Blake Edwards. 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. Interestingly enough Julie Andrews provides a singing voice for the 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.”