The Pink Panther on DVD
Blake Edwards has a place waiting for him in whatever movie hall of fame there
may be. Hes a logical addition for his body of work, which includes classics
such as Victor, Victoria, The
Great Race, The Party, and 10,
but its probably the Pink Panther movies for which hes best known.
It isnt hard to see why. These classics combine slapstick with wit, intrigue
and glamour, as well as giving us terrific performances from terrific actors.
The new DVD set comes with six discs five movies and a bonus disc
and its probably all the Pink Panther you could want.
But you know, when you have to include instructions in the package for how
to get the discs out of their DVD holder, you know you have a packaging problem.
Come on! While its nice to see companies trying something new (this package
crams six discs into the space some others would put three), it seems like a
lot of expense to reinvent the wheel and then have to train people to turn it.
But I digress.
The movies presented here are The Pink Panther (1964), A Shot in the Dark (1964),
The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976), Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978) and
Trail of the Pink Panther (1982). They all star Peter Sellers as the bumbling
but dogged Inspector Clouseau, with a variety of other stars along for the ride.
The first film is arguably the best, though A Shot in the Dark has some hilarious
scenes as well. With Sellers stars David Niven as an infamous cat burglar determined
to steal the Pink Panther diamond from a rich princess (Claudia Cardinale),
aided by Clouseaus lovely wife (Capucine) and jet setting situations and
locations. Its a great helping of 1960s style, from Henry Mancinis
famous theme music to that cartoon Pink Panther who stars in the animated credits
sequence and later went on to his own series.
The first follow-up, A Shot in the Dark, came close on its heels and gave shape
to the rest of the series. Here we get Sellers refining (well, perhaps that
isnt the correct word!) his French accent and are introduced to key supporting
players Herbert Lom (as Clouseaus boss, Chief Inspector Dreyfus), and
Burt Kwouk as the hilarious Kato.
The story sees Sellers refusing to believe that a beautiful woman (Elke Sommer)
could be guilty of the murder for which shes accused, and this leads to
the knee slappingly funny segment where he goes "undercover" at a nudist colony.
The DVD set skips over The Return of the Pink Panther, but The Pink Panther
Strikes Again gives us Chief Inspector Dreyfus being driven nuts by Clouseau's
bumbling incompetence, and threatening global destruction unless the oaf is
gotten rid of once and for all.
Naturally, Clouseau comes through the ordeal relatively unscathed and unaware
of just what has been going on. This is a great showcase for Sellers talents,
as he puts on a variety of costumes and accents to get through the plots
plot. This ones a feast of slapstick.
The Revenge of the Pink Panther is the weakest of these titles. Its
kind of a "French Connection-like" drug deal thingy in which Clouseau (who is
thought to have been murdered a la James Bond in You Only Live Twice
and is now working incognito) heads to Hong Kong for a slapstick extravaganza
thats funny enough that it almost makes up for the rest of the movie.
This was the last of the Panther films to star Peter Sellers.
The last film in the set, The Trail of the Pink Panther uses that old chestnut
of previously unseen footage (before there were supplements to DVDs,
they released a whole movie of this stuff!) of Peter Sellers, wrapped into a
new plot that sees Joanna Lumley interviewing characters from the earlier films.
Its no Shot in the Dark, but its here.
The six disc DVD features anamorphic widescreen versions of the films (16x9
TV compatible) and though they claim the visuals have been given a new lease
on life we found the overall video quality to be spotty at best. Theres
plenty of age showing on the earliest of the films; perhaps its time they
were given the full restoration treatment thats done such wonders for
other movies from this and earlier eras.
Audio is Dolby Digital
and its okay.
For extras, you get that entire sixth disc and it features such stuff as "The
Pink Panther Story," "Behind the Feline: The Cartoon Phenomenon" (about that
cat who went on to star in his own series of rather unfunny cartoons). Theres
also a collection of cartoons: "The Pink Phink," "Pink, Plunk, Plink," "Psychedelic
Pink," "Pinkfinger," "The Ant and the Aardvark," "The Great De Gaulle Stone
You also get deleted footage, outtakes, commentaries, etc.
If youre a fan of Peter Sellers, or just curious about why he was so
popular, you can get an excellent idea with this boxed set of why he was the
giant he was. And this is only one of his characters!
Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think