The Pink Panther (1963 )

Directed by Blake Edwards
Cinematography Philip Lathrop

The Pink Panther is a 1963 American comedy film directed by Blake Edwards and co-written by Edwards and Maurice Richlin, starring David Niven, Peter Sellers, Robert Wagner, Capucine, and Claudia Cardinale. The film introduced the cartoon character of the same name, in an opening credits sequence animated by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises.

the-pink-panther

Inspector Clouseau travels to Rome to catch a notorious jewel thief known as “The Phantom” before he conducts his most daring heist yet–a princess’ priceless diamond with one slight imperfection, known as “The Pink Panther.”

It’s Not Supposed to be the same as the sequels

Author: William Brown (wdbrown) from Salem, Oregon
25 July 2002

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.

012-the-pink-panther-theredlist

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.

tumblr_o5g4f6c2ec1u9ezsdo1_500

_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.

a_shot_in_the_dark_peter_sellers_and_elke_sommer

A true classic – One of the best of the Sixties

10/10
Author: MotoMike from Richardson, Texas
19 March 2001

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.

PINK PANTHER, THE (1963)

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.

tumblr_mfz868smt01r8w6odo1_500

(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.

the-pink-panther-6

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.

First “Panther” was very different, but quite good

Author: mlevans from Oklahoma
5 March 2002

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.)

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.

the-pink-panther

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 ā€“ though highly devious ā€“ 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.

the-pink-panther-5

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!

011-the-pink-panther-theredlist

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 ā€“ 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!

Terrific fun thanks to underplaying by Sellers.

8/10
Author: Ben Parker (ben.cheshire@optusnet.com.au) from Australia
25 June 2004

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.

o4eeejle2u5g7ld9jlsvvwdt2sy

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.

tumblr_o2v2pvadq41qzk2apo4_500

Three Thoughts about “The Pink Panther”

8/10
Author: dafrieze from United States
21 May 2003

1) This is probably the most beautiful LOOKING slapstick comedy ever filmed. The sets, the scenery, the costumes, the photography – everything looks elegant and expensive.

2) For those of us who actually like the cultural atmosphere of the early sixties at least as much as that of the late sixties, this is a goldmine, ranking right up there with the early Bond films.

3) For insecure actors fixated on billing (i.e., where their names go on the credits): just remember that Peter Sellers got third billing on this film, and yet he’s the one everyone thinks of when they think of “The Pink Panther.” And not just because of the sequels – this was the movie that made him an American movie star. Billing can’t compensate for genius.

149970809

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s