Classic Intel: The Pink Panther - Online Review

'Sellers is magnificent. His talent is the rare one of selling the most ridiculous of jokes to a sceptical audience'

Very few film characters make me laugh as much as Peter Sellers' Inspector Clouseau. Arguably the last great purveyor of farce and slapstick, Clouseau is a physical monument to an age of comedy that sadly seems to have died a death. Morrisey once sang 'that joke isn't funny anymore'. As far as modern comedy goes, that very much appears to be the case. As far as The Pink Panther is concerned, it couldn't be any further from the truth.

That said, this is not Inspector Clouseau's finest hour. Famously The Pink Panther was originally intended as a vehicle for the David Niven character, Sir Charles Lytton. Lengthy scenes of dialogue between Lytton and his mark/love interest Princess Dahla (Claudia Cardinale) annoyingly punctuate Clouseau's slapstick, which doesn't feel as sharp here as it does in later Panther efforts. The bedroom/bathroom scene - which involves three dishonest characters and one honest one (Clouseau, naturally) and is the very essence of farce - is as close as The Pink Panther gets to comedy gold. Still, it feels over-long and some shots (excluding the hilarious image of Robert Wagner attached to the back of a revolving door) don't do the scripting justice. Ditto the lame final car chase sequence, which has the right ideas but executes them in all the wrong ways.

Throughout though, Sellers is magnificent. His talent is the rare one of selling the most ridiculous of jokes to a sceptical audience, making them love him and his characters more each time. Witness the 'globe fall'. Clouseau spins a globe his office. He turns away from it and carries on talking. The audience know what's coming and because of that, it shouldn't be funny but Sellers pitches it to them like an earnest salesmen with a faulty product. It is hilarious. A laugh out loud moment, which should have been a complete comedic flop. Sellers in a nutshell.

Cardinale (whose lines were dubbed due to her lack of English) lends the film a touch of much-needed class but doesn't appear game for a laugh, which leaves her scenes with Niven flat and approaching boredom territory, especially considering the fact that Niven seems determined to make the film as much unlike a comedy as possible. Wagner is a jovial presence who picks up the pace but his character is close to unnecessary in a plot which was already crowded and occasionally nonsensical (I'm still not sure how or why all the characters end up conveniently in a ski resort, for example). It's funny in places but largely serves as a trifling introduction to the much funnier efforts which line the road ahead.

The Pink Panther is available to watch using Sky Anytime or Sky Player for users with an appropriate subscription.

Look further...

'And what a boring plot it is: the film is wall-to-wall exposition courtesy of talking tuxedoes' - Film Freak Central, 1.5/4


  1. have finally watched a movie older than me!! The Pink Panther movies were standard fare on NZ telly in the earky 1980's and I never missed a chance to see them.
    The re-makes were pathetic and Steve Martin just couldn't even get close to Sellers. My 6 year old nephew loved them but I groaned!
    very presient review and I agree modern comedy just can't capture that of yester-year. But I think that of alot of modern films... the 'classics' have nothing to fear!!

  2. I can't imagine anything coming close to how much some of the Pink Panther films made me laugh. It's a while since I've seem them but can't imagine their hilarity having diminished over the years. A Shot In The Dark (which is next in the sequence) used to be my personal favourite.