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Terrific fun thanks to underplaying by Sellers.
8/10 I had an absolute ball watching this. It works so well because Sellers underplays it. He's never over-the-top, never looks like he's playing for jokes, which makes his bumbling all the funnier.5 years ago
Blake Edwards epitomises the sexy martini and bright colours world of the cinematic sixties for me. Revisiting Pink Panther since my childhood, i can see how this was a natural continuation from Breakfast at Tiffany's.
The charming David Niven and radiant belle Claudia Cardinale give added appeal. They are actually the two leads. Inspector Clouseau is a supporting player in this. His mass popularity lead to his being the centre of the sequals, including the famous second film Shot in the Dark, also by Blake Edwards.
A gem of a "man hiding in the closet" farce, perfect for late-night fun. See it if you enjoyed What's Up Doc? or Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Birth of the "Panther"
7/10 The one that started it all and set `Clouseau' on the path to becoming Chief Inspector, `The Pink Panther,' directed by Blake Edwards, stars David Niven and Peter Sellers. This film is memorable for a number of reasons, primarily for being the first in a tremendously successful (and funny) series which would ultimately showcase one of the world's favorite cinematic policemen, the bumbling Jacques Clouseau (Sellers). it also introduced His Royal Pinkness, the Panther himself, to the format of the feature length motion picture. And can anyone remember a time before Henry Mancini's familiar theme existed?5 years ago
Being the first, of course, makes this the prototype, and though it's a good movie, it's obvious that the formula for success which the following films in the series employed had not yet been honed to perfection. Consequently, though funny, the hilarity level of this one is comparatively low, though it does have it's moments, the best of which involve Clouseau.
From the day it premiered, it was readily apparent that what really made it a go was Sellers; and Edwards and his team have to be given credit for recognizing it immediately. Often a sequel fails because the filmmaker has attempted to capitalize on an element of the original that seemingly made it good, only to discover that what the poet once said is true: You can never go home again. Merely expanding the part that worked before doesn't insure success; usually, in fact, quite the opposite is true, as without fail it becomes a matter of overkill (The Penguin was no Joker, and those participating in `The Return of the Seven' weren't so `magnificent' after all). There are the exceptions, of course, like the `Stars Wars' saga, the `Indiana Jones' movies and, it goes without saying, the `Panther' films.
Edwards was clever enough to discern that key element in the original, and not only expand upon it for the sequels, but fine tune it as he did so. In developing his formula he seemed to possess an innate sense of what was funny, even from an objective point of view-- which is amazing, given that comedy is probably the most subjective of genres. And then again, he had the inimitable Sellers as his star, which was certainly no hindrance to their combined efforts.
It's interesting to watch this movie again, especially after seeing the rest of the series, as you're seeing Clouseau in his raw stage of development; the accent is not yet as pronounced as it will be later, and his `denseness' is not quite refined yet. But funny he is, even as he experiments, searching for that perfect comedic note (which he would finally find in `The Pink Panther Strikes Again'). Seller's performance is the highlight of the movie, and it gave birth to what would become one of the defining characters of his career. From the first moment Clouseau appears on screen, you know that you're about to be treated to something special. And Sellers never disappoints-- from that first frame on, he is a joy to watch.
David Niven, meanwhile, lends an air of sophistication to the proceedings as the suave and debonair, legendary jewel thief, Sir Charles Litton. Though not a unique character, Niven plays him well, exuding the kind of charm possibly only Cary Grant could have matched at the time. As usual, he brings a smooth presence to the screen, he plays comedy well and the facility with which he brings Litton to life is impressive. Watching Niven and Sellers together calls to mind the pairing of Michael Caine and Steve Martin some years later in `Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.'
The supporting cast includes Robert Wagner (George Litton), Capucine (Simone), Brenda De Banzie (Angela), Colin Gordon (Tucker) Fran Jeffries (Greek `Cousin') and the lovely Claudia Cardinale as Princess Dala. Sellers created a number of characters during his career that will live forever, but with `The Pink Panther' he carved out a special niche for himself when he created Clouseau. There's never been anyone else quite like Clouseau (or Sellers, for that matter), and it's doubtful there ever will be again. As for the movie itself, there's no denying it's place of significance in the history of the movies as the one that kicked off a series that made the world laugh-- and thanks to the magic of DVD/video, that laughter continues on, unabated, today-- with no end in sight. That's the magic of Sellers, and it's all a part of the magic of the movies. I rate this one 7/10.
First "Panther" was very different, but quite good
5/10 I honestly thought I had seen every Pink Panther movie. (Or should I say, every `Clouseau movie,' since I had even seen Adam Arkin's `Inspector Clouseau'?) I discovered tonight, however, that I had never seen the original 1963 classic, `The Pink Panther.' (Or, if I had, I was far too young to appreciate it and had forgotten all but a couple of scenes.)5 years ago
For those not familiar with the film, this, of course, launched the Clouseau character and the Pink Panther series. Beyond the characters of Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Peter Sellers) and Sir Charles Litton (David Niven) and the fabulous Pink Panther diamond, though, there is little resemblance between the series-launching film and later Panther comedies. This is not necessarily bad, although fans of the fast-paced slapstick of the later entries will likely be a bit disappointed.
Of course this was the precursor, and Sellers and director Blake Edwards were just beginning to explore the character and world of Clouseau, that most incompetent and clumsy of detectives, who nevertheless gets his man.
The original Panther is a romantic comedy, with Sellers as merely part of a very good ensemble cast. We see very little of the hilarious Clouseau schtick for which Sellers is best remembered. He has no bizarre pronunciations yet and even has a gorgeous though highly devious wife. We can certainly see flashes of the Clouseau to come, though, and Sellers blends into the exotic montage quite well.
Niven is really the star of this first Panther production. As the swashbuckling, womanizing aristocrat/phantom, he turns in one of his best performances. A very young Robert Wagner also does good work as his long-lost nephew, George Litton.
Two extremely attractive and exotic actresses also heat things up. French beauty Capucine plays Simone Clouseau and is at the height of her career in 1963. Director George Cukor said that `The camera has a love affair with her face.' Edwards' camera certainly did. She handles both the romantic and slapstick scenes with equal aplomb. (Compare the `husband coming home unexpectedly' scene with Capucine, Liven, Wagner and Sellers with the same scene in `Horsefeathers' with all four Marx Brothers, Thelma Todd and her husband!) The other enchanter is Claudia Cardinale, as Princess Dala. The Italian beauty queen is perfect as the sexy, exotic princess and owner of The Pink Panther diamond. In the champagne scene with Litten and the Tiger rug, Cardinale is enticing enough to make a male viewer completely forget Sellers and his bumbling detective work!
While Edwards and Sellers changed directions a bit in later films, the original Pink Panther is worth renting for more than just its historic value. It is indeed a fine film and a wonderful work of art something, which, indeed might be said for both Capucine and Cardinale, as well! By all means, rent the original Pink Panther; just don't expect slow motion Kung Fu attacks and insane chief inspectors taking shots at Clouseau!
A true classic - One of the best of the Sixties
10/10 To me, the defining moment in The Pink Panther comes when Clouseau is finally asked by his wife to get her a sleeping pill. Frustrated, discouraged, he tramps across the room for the umpteenth time to do his wife's bidding. We see him go into the bathroom, and then we hear - not see - ALL the pills drop on the floor of the bathroom. Without picking them up, or even saying anything or reacting in any way, he crunches across the floor and back into our view, carrying the water and the pill for her. You know exactly what happened; you didn't need to see it.5 years ago
This is typical of this movie and this style: the jokes are so underplayed, quiet and perfectly paced that people accustomed to seeing "American Pie" and "There's Something About Mary", or even the bunch 'o sequels to this film (that grew progressively coarser and louder with each installment) may not get or even notice them. In the first sight of Inspector Clouseau, we see him pulling the old "leaning on a spinning globe and taking a pratfall" trick. But the moment is over with quickly; it's not made more than it is meant to, because the point of the pratfall is to define Clouseau's character in a moment. (Compare with later, more painful, re-occurences of this spinning-globe idea in the sequels). Most of the other moments derive from this idea: at the center of this caper film is this man who is inextricably dense and clueless, and yet retains a curious grace - not to speak of a total savoire-faire in all moments.
This film could never be made today. In fact, it's a time capsule of a certain sort of late 50's, early 60's sensibility. Examples: all the people showing up for the Princess's dinner in formal evening wear. David Niven's late-night repartee with the Princess - all about numb lips and champagne. The musical number - for no reason whatsoever. The glamorous locales - without a trace of irony, straight out of "To Catch a Thief", the inspiration for this type of "caper" flick. The curiously innocent and unsexual bedroom farce moments. And, of course, the ending car chase with guests in ape suits, a suit of armor, and not one but two cops in a zebra outfit (what a good choice for those interested in speed and efficiency!) And these are just the moments - see how effortlessly the screenplay weaves all the story lines together, and how beautifully the pace gets accelerated throughout the movie. Not to speak of the opening credits, which are like a whole cartoon sequence in themselves. Obviously, I'm crazy about this picture; it's pretty, it's captivating, it's romantic, it's funny, and it weighs about two ounces - it's just delectable cotton candy. And through it all Peter Sellers gives one of the most subtle, and funniest, comic performances put to film, walking around in a fog, totally unaware of reality, and underplaying his role to the hilt.
Rumor has it that a remake is in the works, with Mike Myers in the Clouseau role. Let's compare two moments to get a preview: Peter Sellers bringing his wife a part-full glass of milk that he has spilled most of. At her quizzical look he innocently says,"That was all they had, my dear!" .... compared with Austin Powers drinking, um, the brown substance that is not coffee. Different strokes for different folks, indeed. Looking forward to it, uh huh.
It's Not Supposed to be the same as the sequels
5/10 Nearly every review I have read condemning _The Pink Panther_ to second or third rate status in the "pantheon" of Clouseau movies comes from someone who either didn't know it existed or who was raised on the totally slapstick offerings that came later. If you are expecting the hackneyed humor and over-the-top performances that came with the last few Panther movies you are bound to be surprised by a movie that took time to make sense out of a story. If those movies are your standard for humor, you are bound to be disappointed.5 years ago
This is one of my all-time favorite movies. I watched it when it came out. I was eleven and it was showing at a local drive-in. Since then the movie has never failed to entertain me.
Unlike most of the other reviewers, I don't share the same admiration for the later Clouseau movies. I did enjoy _A Shot in the Dark_ and even liked _Return of the Pink Panther_ and its sequel, but frankly, Herbert Lom's twitch, Kato's surprise attacks, increasingly more ludicrous plot devices, and the very fact that Clouseau was still in a position of responsibility was more disbelief than I was willing to suspend.
_The Pink Panther_ is a great Romantic Comedy. That, in itself separates it from all the other Panther clones, which are all farcical slapsticks. Different humor, different purposes, therefore a different appreciation.
_The Pink Panther_ was not a blueprint for other Clouseau movies. Only for the Clouseau character.
This movie was the inspiration for an American icon. The Pink Panther cartoons came out well before the next movie. It also featured inspired comedy performances by its four leads. Yes, FOUR leads. Just because Clouseau wasn't the only major character doesn't mean he was minor. Sellers has more scenes than anyone except David Niven.
_The Pink Panther_ deserves to be considered on its own merits and not compared to movies of another genre that strove to capitalize on the popularity of the original.