Curse of the Pink Panther

Curse of the Pink Panther
Curse of the Pink Panther

DVD release cover
Directed by Blake Edwards
Produced by Blake Edwards
Tony Adams
Written by Blake Edwards
Geoffrey Edwards
Starring Ted Wass
Roger Moore
David Niven
Herbert Lom
Robert Wagner
Music by Henry Mancini
Cinematography Dick Bush
Editing by Robert Hathaway
Ralph E. Winters
Distributed by MGM/UA Entertainment Co.
Tilt Productions Inc.
Release date(s) August 12, 1983
Running time 109 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Curse of the Pink Panther is a 1983 comedy film, the eighth installment of the The Pink Panther series of films started by Blake Edwards in the early 1960s.

The film was one of two produced concurrently following the death of the series' star, Peter Sellers. Whereas the previous film, Trail of the Pink Panther made use of unused footage of Sellers as Inspector Clouseau, Curse attempted to relaunch the series with a new lead, Ted Wass, as American detective Clifton Sleigh, an equally incompetent police officer assigned to find the missing Inspector Clouseau. The film contains a cameo by Roger Moore at the end of the film as Clouseau.

The film was a critical and commercial failure.

Contents

Plot

While investigating the theft of the Pink Panther diamond during the previous film (Trail of the Pink Panther), Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau, (Peter Sellers), hailed as France's greatest detective, disappeared at sea during a plane crash. His former superior, Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus (Herbert Lom), is pressured to oversee Operation Paragon and utilize Interpol's fictitious Huxley Huxley 600 computer, Aldous to find the world's greatest detective to solve the crime.

What the world at large does not realise is that Clouseau was actually a bungling fool whose cases were solved more through luck that actual detective genius and that his accident-prone incompetence led Dreyfus to a series of nervous breakdowns. Anxious never to see or hear from his nemesis again, Dreyfus sabotages the computer to select the world's worst detective. This turns out to be Sergeant Clifton Sleigh (Ted Wass), an incompetent officer of the NYPD.

Sleigh, who is descended from a long line of cops, sees the case as an opportunity to prove his worth. Dreyfus and his long-suffering assistant Sergeant François Durval (André Maranne) soon find that the sabotage has worked a bit too well: Sleigh is just as clumsy as Clouseau, tripping and falling, causing havoc and driving Dreyfus crazy. When Sleigh meets Dreyfus for the first time in his office, Sleigh trips over his own feet and knocks Dreyfus into his wheeled office chair which rolls out onto the balcony and sends Dreyfus falling three stories into a pond below, breaking his left leg. Later as Dreyfus goes insane again and attempts to murder Sleigh, he keeps injuring himself, leading to him breaking most of his bones and ending up in a body cast.

As he sets out on the case, Sergeant Sleigh encounters many people who prefer Clouseau dead. These include the inspector's former manservant Cato (Burt Kwouk) (who attacks Sleigh when he breaks into the Clouseau Museum Cato now operates); Dreyfus, who attempts to kill Sleigh like he tried to kill Clouseau; and Bruno Langlois (Robert Loggia), the mafia boss from Trail of the Pink Panther. Langlois orders several assassination attempts on Sleigh, but the detective's bumbling nature allows him to survive. Ultimately, Langlois, along with his henchmen (including Mr. Chong from Revenge of the Pink Panther) have a final showdown with Sleigh in a dark alley. Juleta Shayne, an employee of the enigmatic Countess Chandra comes to Sleigh's rescue and manages to defeat Langlois and his thugs in street combat.

Sleigh also meets Sir Charles Lytton (David Niven) who is now married to Clouseau's former wife Simone (Capucine) and accompanied by his nephew George (Robert Wagner) (all from the very first Pink Panther movie). Sir Charles was the notorious jewel thief known as the Phantom, though only Clouseau was convinced of this. The Phantom would steal items of jewellery and leave behind a monogrammed white glove.

Eventually the trail leads Sleigh to a health spa run by Countess Chandra (Joanna Lumley). There he meets famous British film star, (Roger Moore) who speaks with a rather odd French accent and falls about all over the place. Seeing a photograph of the Inspector, Countess Chandra tells Sleigh that Clouseau visited her several months ago, but claimed his name was Gino Rossi (the thief who stole the diamond in the last film and was seen fencing it to Countess Chandra at the start of this film when the real Inspector arrived on the scene). She recalls he was looking for a good plastic surgeon and she recommended one.

Sleigh concludes, wrongly, that Clouseau stole the Pink Panther diamond, underwent plastic surgery, and changed his name to Gino Rossi. The real jewel thief's body was found washed up on shore after he was shot to death. It is believed that Clouseau was killed for the diamond. Anxious to be rid of Sleigh, Dreyfus announces that Sleigh has solved the mystery and officially closes the case, though it is clear that Dreyfus does not believe that this is what happened. In a final irony, as Dreyfus sets fire to Gino Rossi's photograph, happy to be rid of Clouseau once and for all, he accidentally sets fire to his office. Sleigh runs in and attempts to put out the fire with a hose, only to accidentally hit Dreyfus with the water, the force of which pushes him onto his balcony and Dreyfus again falls three stories into the pond below.

Fim star Roger Moore was in fact Clouseau after very extensive plastic surgery. Clouseau has become Countess Chandra's lover and partner in crime. When Clouseau and Chandra open her hidden wall safe to admire the Pink Panther, they discover they have been robbed and a white monogrammed glove has been left behind. "Swine Phantom!" mutters Clouseau, knowing only too well who is responsible for the theft.

In the final scene, Sir Charles, Simone, and George are sailing away on board their yacht, along with the Pink Panther jewel which Simone has stolen.

Production

The film was shot at the same time as linking footage for Trail of the Pink Panther. Curse of the Pink Panther had been the original working title for what became Revenge of the Pink Panther, made five years previously.

In Trail of the Pink Panther, Joanna Lumley had been a TV investigative reporter. Here she is cast as the aristocratic owner of a health spa, Countess Chandra.

Dudley Moore had been Blake Edwards' original choice for the role of Det. Clifton Sleigh, but Moore turned it down, not wishing to commit to a series following the success of Arthur. Edwards suggested Rowan Atkinson for the role, but the studio rejected the choice as he was unknown outside of Britain at the time. John Ritter was also in discussion for the role before it fell to Ted Wass.

David Niven, Capucine and Robert Wagner had been the stars of the original Pink Panther film. This was Niven's final film and, due to his failing health, his voice was dubbed by impressionist Rich Little during post-production.

Joanna Lumley and Roger Moore face the Curse of the Pink Panther — "Swine Phantom!"

Roger Moore's scenes were shot during a break from shooting Octopussy. He was credited as "Turk Thrust II", a nod to actor Bryan Forbes, who was credited as "Turk Thrust" in the 1964 Clouseau film, A Shot in the Dark.

Clouseau turning to a life of crime was an element borrowed from Peter Sellers's unfilmed Romance of the Pink Panther script which had, in the second of the script's two drafts, Clouseau leaving the force and joining his new wife, the arch-criminal, The Frog in a life of crime.

A new arrangement for The Pink Panther Theme Tune (similar to the theme from Revenge of the Pink Panther) with heavy synthesizers is present, to align the theme with '80s music trends.

The original tagline on posters was 'He's been bombed, blasted and plugged in the parachute... Is this any way to welcome the World's Greatest Detective?'.

Impact

Curse of the Pink Panther was a critical and box office failure, with the general consensus that attempting to continue the Pink Panther series without Sellers was foolhardy.

Critics and fans agree, though, that one positive aspect of the film was Moore's cameo which makes quite a contrast to his usual part of suave and sophisticated hero. Falling about, mincing his words and wearing an ice bucket for most of his scenes, Moore displays a previously unknown talent for physical and verbal comedy.

Wass' option for several sequels was never taken up, although another unsuccessful attempt at reviving the series occurred 10 years later with Son of the Pink Panther, starring Roberto Benigni as Clouseau's illegitimate son. A commercially successful revival, The Pink Panther starring Steve Martin as Clouseau, was released in 2006, though this film is a rebooting of the franchise rather than a continuation or remake. Martin once again played Clouseau in The Pink Panther 2, although this film was not a commercial success.

External links


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