Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Pink Panther Strikes Again

The Pink Panther Strikes Again; comedy, UK / USA, 1976; D: Blake Edwards, S: Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom, Richard Vernon, Lesley-Anne Down, Burt Kwouk, Colin Blakely, Omar Sharif

Former Chief Inspector Dreyfus landed in a mental institute due to inspector Clouseau, but manages to convince his doctor that he is sane again. Then Clouseau visits him and he goes insane once again, forcefully escaping to take revenge on him. While Clouseau is practicing fighting with his assistant Cato in his apartment, they are observed by Dreyfus who places them a bomb. After the explosion, Clouseau survives and concludes: "That was an explosive bomb!" The now mad Dreyfus kidnaps scientist Fassbender and his daughter and with their help constructs a giant laser that wipes out the UN building in New York from the face of the Earth. Then he orders all countries in the world to kill Clouseau, but he manages to enter his castle and divert the laser which wipes out the whole place and Dreyfus in it.

The 4th Sellers/Edwards installment of the "Pink Panther" series is probably the funniest, and the best in the lot, even though it disappointed some fans with it's unconvincing, uninspired and chopped up story that estranged itself a lot from the original film's plot: the main novelty here is that Chief Inspector Dreyfus started to hate Clouseau so much that he became the main bad guy and constructed a laser ray that can wipe out buildings from the face of the Earth (!), which is a rather inconclusive and shaky tangle due to the too bizarre idea. Still, the movie is just a vessel for some hilarious gags, and some of which, mostly centered in the first half, were truly marvelously conceptualized and executed: in the exposition, Dreyfus is in a mental institution together with a puppet of Clouseau as a therapy in order to accustom himself to his presence. In the film's best choreographed sequence, Clouseau is fighting with Cato in his apartment - in slow-motion, Cato is charging towards him with a long stick while Clouseau simply dodges him, hits him with a chain in the neck from behind, forcing him to fall and slam into the TV. Later on, both of them try to attack each other with sticks, but both of them get stuck on the door. Clouseau falls the same way Dreyfus does, etc. Even later on, Peter Sellers proves to be in top form in this film: it's especially noticeable in the funny way he investigates the kidnapping of scientist Fassbender and his daughter ("Number one - they were kidnapped! Number two - somebody kidnapped them! Number hand is on fire!"), as well as the meticulously realized sequence in the October fest in Munich where one man, disguised as a fat woman, tries to kill him with knives in his bra. The movie completely abandons logic and simply plays out as a hilarious physical comedy, but unlike previous "Pink Panther" films, this time slapstick humor and movements were cleverly choreographed and engage on more complicated level, causing the film to get nominated for 2 Golden Globes, as best motion picture musical or comedy and Peter Sellers as best actor in a musical or comedy.


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