Reviewing The Pink Panther Series

Pink panther63.jpg

The Pink Panther (1963)
Release Date: December 18, 1963
Director: Blake Edwards
Studio: United Artists
The Pink Panther is the first film in the “Pink Panther” series featuring Peter Sellers as the bumbling but lovable French inspector, Jacques Clouseau. This first film focuses on the story of Sir Charles Lytton (played by David Niven) who moonlights as a jewel thief known as the “Phantom.” While Peter Sellers’s Clousea plays a background role, he still manages to steal the show. The Pink Panther is an amusing film, however later films in the series are superior because they focus mainly on the foibles of Inspector Clouseau.

Shot in the dark.jpg

A Shot in the Dark (1964)
Release Date: June 23, 1964
Director: Blake Edwards
Studio: United Artists
In many ways A Shot In The Dark is the first true “Pink Panther” film, despite it technically being the second “Pink Panther” movie following the prior year’s The Pink Panther (1963). With Peter Sellers accidentally tearing up pool tables, walking into walls, stumbling into fountains, getting arrested numerous times, and accidentally wandering through a nudist colony into a traffic jam, A Shot in the Dark is a hilarious film.

return-of-the-pink-panther

The Return of the Pink Panther (1975)
Release Date: May 21, 1975
Director: Blake Edwards
Studio: United Artists
The Return of the Pink Panther is the best Pink Panther film in the series and it is one of the funniest movies of all-time (apparently it was the highest grossing Hollywood comedy up to that time, as well). In the film, the famous Pink Panther diamond is stolen from its secure museum location in the Middle East. Peter Sellers reprises his role as the bungling Inspector Clouseau as he travels across the world in search of the diamond thief who he believes to be Sir Charles Litton (this time played by Christopher Plummer). Note: there was a separate pink panther movie released in 1978 called Inspector Clouseau but it did not feature Peter Sellers and was widely panned. For these reasons I decided not to watch it.

pink-panther-strikes-again

The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976)
Release Date: December 15, 1976
Director: Blake Edwards
Studio: United Artists
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 (1975). Peter Sellers revives his role as Inspector Clouseau with many of his familiar gags -stumbling around Europe, mispronouncing words, employing a ridiculously thick French accent, driving his old boss to the brink of madness. It is a terrific absurdist comedy.

revenge-of-the-pink-panther

The Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978)
Release Date: July 13, 1978
Director: Blake Edwards
Studio: United Artists
After years of declining physical and mental health, as well as a fiery relationship with Director Blake Edwards, the brilliant comedian Peter Sellers returned one final time to reprise his role as the bungling and incompetent Inspector Clouseau. The Revenge of the Pink Panther is not the best Pink Panther film, despite there being some terrific and characteristic physical comedy in this installment. The plot does not concern the pink panther diamond but instead the mafia is after Clousea and he is presumed dead while his maniacal boss is re-instated on the police force. The theme of Clouseau’s death is ironic considering that Peter Sellers died a mere two years after this film’s release (Sellers died in 1980).

Sellers was in the midst of crafting another pink panther film called “Romance of the Pink Panther” but it was never completed after he died in 1980. Remarkably after Revenge of the Pink Panther instead of ending the series, pink panther films continue to be made into the present-day. The follow-up movie (Trail of the Pink Panther in 1982) was a mash-up movie of unused footage from other pink panther movies featuring Sellers. It is confusing and episodic as an homage to Peter Sellers but is not a particularly remarkable film. Spin-offs continued through the 1980s and 1990s, including a ridiculous performance of Clouseau by Roger Moore, and a movie that features the offspring of Clouseau that is not particularly funny. The series was also rebooted in the 2000s with Steve Martin as the lead but I cannot bring myself to watch these movies. The two that have been thus far released have been critically panned for the most part and unfortunately there are apparently more pink panther films planned for the future.

Ranking My Favorite Pink Panther Films

#1 The Return of the Pink Panther (1975)

#2 The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976)

#3 A Shot in the Dark (1964)

#4 The Pink Panther (1963)

#5 The Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978)

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