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  • Writer's pictureThomas Duncan

The Pink Panther (1963)

Updated: Dec 9, 2023


Cast:

  • Blake Edwards, Writer/Director

  • Maurice Richlin, Co-writer

  • Henry Mancini, Score

  • David Niven as Sir Charles Lytton

  • Peter Sellers as Inspector Jacques Clouseau

  • Robert Wagner as George Lytton

  • Capucine as Simone Clouseau

  • Claudia Cardinale as Princess Dala

  • Colin Gordon as Tucker

  • Brenda de Banzie as Angela Dunning

  • Gale Garnett, voice of Princess Dala (uncredited)

*Recognition:

  • The Pink Panther was released in Italy on December 18, 1963 with an American release on March 18, 1964.

  • It was met with mostly positive reviews particularly of Peter Sellers' role as the iconic Inspector Clouseau.

  • The Pink Panther would gross nearly $10.9 million at the box office in 1964 making it the 10th biggest movie of that year ahead of Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb and behind the movie's sequel A Shot in the Dark that was released in June 1964.

  • The soundtrack album for the film, featuring Henry Mancini's score, was released in 1964 and reached No. 8 on the Billboard magazine's pop album chart. It was nominated for Grammy and Academy Awards and was later inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and selected by the American Film Institute as No. 20 in its 100 Years of Film Scores.

  • The Pink Panther currently holds an 89% on RT, a 55 score on Metacritic, and 3.4/5 on Letterboxd.

What is this movie is about?/Elevator Pitch: Slap-stick comedy about a less than clever jewel thief, and the bumbling detective on his trail.


Plot Summary: "The Pink Panther" is a delightful comedy caper directed by Blake Edwards, which weaves together a tale of stolen diamonds, mistaken identities, and the comically inept Inspector Jacques Clouseau, played brilliantly by Peter Sellers. When the legendary Pink Panther diamond goes missing, Clouseau is assigned to the high-profile case. Armed with an abundance of confidence but lacking in competence, Clouseau sets out to apprehend the cunning thief responsible for the audacious heist. However, his unconventional methods and comedic missteps only serve to create chaos and confusion. As Clouseau stumbles his way through the investigation, a tangled web of relationships emerge. The glamorous Princess Dala (Claudia Cardinale), the seductive Simone (Capucine), and the dashing Sir Charles Lytton (David Niven) all become entangled in Clouseau's pursuit of the Pink Panther. With each twist and turn, the lines between friend and foe become blurred, and laughter ensues.


Did You Know:

  • An animated Pink Panther was created for the opening credits because writer and director Blake Edwards felt that the credits would benefit from some kind of cartoon character. David H. DePatie and Friz Freleng decided to personify the film's eponymous jewel, and the Pink Panther character was chosen by Edwards from over a hundred alternative panther sketches. The Pink Panther introduced in the opening credits became a popular film and television character in his own right, beginning with the cartoon short The Pink Phink (1964) the following year.

  • Somewhat overweight for much of his life up to this point and possessing a hang-dog face, Peter Sellers was obsessed with becoming a handsome leading man. Although he easily outperformed Robert Wagner in this picture, he envied the American actor's good looks. To get himself in better shape, he subjected himself to a gruelling weight-loss regimen that included the excessive use of diet pills, possibly a contributing factor to the heart attack he suffered before the film's release. Some biographers also claim he had his teeth straightened and capped.

  • With just two weeks to go before shooting begun, the producers decided that Ava Gardner's erratic lifestyle could affect filming and decided not to offer her the part of Madame Clouseau. Capucine was hired in a hurry, but Peter Ustinov's wife (he originally had the part of Clouseau) felt this would affect the calibre of the production and told him to withdraw . From this chaos, Peter Sellers became an international superstar.

Best Performance: Peter Sellers (Clouseau)/Henry Mancini (Score)

Best Secondary Performance: Blake Edwards (Writer/Director)

Most Charismatic Award: Henry Mancini (Score)/Claudia Cardinale (Dala)

Best Scene:

  • Dog-napping

  • Ski Lessons

  • Too Much Champagne

  • Late Night Visitors

  • Gorilla Play

  • Trial

Favorite Scene: Late Night Visitors

Most Indelible Moment: Pink Panther Theme Song/The Trial


In Memorium:

  • Pat Robertson, 93, American televangelist (The 700 Club), founder of CBN and Regent University.

  • Cormac McCarthy, 89, American novelist (Blood Meridian, No Country for Old Men, The Road), Pulitzer Prize winner.

  • Lia Mortensen, 57, American actress (A Nightmare on Elm Street)

  • Pat Cooper, 93, American actor (Fighting Back, Analyze This, Analyze That, Seinfeld) and comedian (Former opener for Sinatra and Paul Anka, and popular Howard Stern and late-night guest)

  • Treat Williams, 71, American actor (Hair, Prince of the City, Everwood, White Collar)

Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

Inspector Jacques Clouseau: [having stepped on and broken the violin] It's no matter. When you've seen one Stradivarius, you've seen them all.


[At a costume ball, a police sergeant costumed as a zebra drinks from the punch bowl]

Inspector Jacques Clouseau: Any more behaviour like this and I'll have your stripes!


Police escort: Tell me, inspector - Signor Phantom - all those robberies. How did you ever manage it?

Inspector Jacques Clouseau: Well, you know... it wasn't easy.


The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 8.75

Impact/Significance: 9

Novelty: 7.5

Classic-ness: 6.5

Rewatchability: 4.5

Audience Score: 7.35 (69% Google, 78% RT)

Total: 43.6


Remaining Questions:

  • If Clouseau is cleared after the next theft, wouldn't the blame potentially shift back on Sir Charles?

  • If the Clouseaus had been married for 10 years, was she a plant the whole time?

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