A Shot in the Dark (1964)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Farce, Police Comedy  |   Run Time - 103 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom, United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Jeremy Wheeler

A comic masterpiece from beginning till end, A Shot in the Dark is not only the funniest film in the Pink Panther series, but also one of the funniest movies, period! Skillfully imagined by Peter Sellers and director Blake Edwards (with help from future horror scribe William Peter Blatty), the Inspector Clouseau character is boosted to the spotlight with this entry, delivering magical timing in endless impeccably dimwitted situations. If Edwards knows one thing, it's how to stage comedy, and his uncanny grasp of slapstick never worked better than here. The story works as a mystery as well, though the film is mainly propelled by its mad pacing and reoccurring gags. Sellers' work is subtle genius and a sad reminder of what his wild characterization of Clouseau was missing later in the series. With inspired supporting roles filled by a twitchy Herbert Lom, charming sex appeal delivered by the ravishing Elke Sommer, and Burt Kwouk making his debut as the deadly manservant Kato, A Shot in the Dark works even when Sellers hasn't been given the punch line. Additionally, Henry Mancini's score is a joy and makes for a playful '60s soundtrack that's as much a character as anyone in the film. Sellers would return in 1974's The Return of the Pink Panther, but only after Alan Arkin had his shot at the role in the dreadful 1968 follow-up Inspector Clouseau.