One of the most successful franchises of the 1960s and 1970s, director Blake Edwards' Pink Panther movies were a hit from their first installment, in 1964. The film introduced many of the series' hallmarks: Peter Sellers' endearingly inept Inspector Clouseau; the lanky animated pink panther of the credit sequences; and Henry Mancini's instantly recognizable score. Clouseau is a more minor role here than he would be in the future. Sellers' scene-stealing work -- in a part originally intended for Peter Ustinov -- secured him starring status in the subsequent films. His sense of comic timing is unparalleled, in both dialogue delivery and physical humor. Though The Pink Panther isn't as funny as its sequel, A Shot in the Dark (also from 1964), Edwards gives the screwball humor an effortless feel. Such farce was a departure for Edwards, previously best-known for the bittersweet Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) and the somber Days of Wine and Roses (1962). The Pink Panther would be followed by eight sequels of varying casts and quality and a popular television cartoon.
by Brendon Hanley review