Writer-director Blake Edwards hit paydirt with the character of Inspector Clouseau, a Tati-like police inspector in an over-large trenchcoat who is sublimely indifferent to the physical realities that surround him. Peter Sellers brought magnificent life to the character and it lasted
through a number of movies until Sellers' death. (Clouseau has occasionally been played by others, most recently by Italian comic Roberto Benigni and Steve Martin.)
Niven, in a role not unlike his RAFFLES character (or the part played by Cary Grant in TO CATCH A THIEF almost a decade before), is a famous jewel thief who is suave beyond belief, fairly dripping with sophistication. He is vacationing at the Alpine resort of Cortina D'Ampezzo, where all the
skiers are swathed in clothes by famous French designers. One of the guests is Cardinale, an Indian princess who owns the famous "Pink Panther" gem, a bauble of immeasurable value. Niven wants the jewel and will stop at nothing to get it. He has been the scourge of Interpol for the previous 15
years, as he's pulled off one daring robbery after another. All that time, Niven has been tailed by Sellers, a French inspector, who also wants to nail Niven's female accomplice. The fact that Sellers can never seem to catch up with Niven must have something to do with the fact that his wife,
Capucine, is Niven's lover and is therefore able to alert Niven before Sellers can nab him. Meanwhile, Niven's American-born nephew, Wagner, is being supported by his uncle under the pretext that he is a college student. Wagner seems, however, to have inherited a predisposition for his uncle`s
"occupation." Niven is moving in on Cardinale and the gem when Wagner arrives, also intent on purloining the "Panther."
Though he has less time on screen than the other principals, Sellers steals the film. The ensuing follow-up pictures proved his staying power. Gorgeous photography and sets, huge guffaws, and lots of fun. Mancini took an Oscar nomination and stuck around to do the music for several sequels.
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- Review: Writer-director Blake Edwards hit paydirt with the character of Inspector Clouseau, a Tati-like police inspector in an over-large trenchcoat who is sublimely indifferent to the physical realities that surround him. Peter Sellers brought magnificent life to… (more)