Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978)

Genres - Comedy, Mystery  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Comedy, Farce, Parody/Spoof, Police Comedy, Police Detective Film, Slapstick  |   Run Time - 98 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom, United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Mike Cummings

Comic genius Peter Sellers died two years after making this film. But he went out with a bang--16 of them, in fact. That's how many times his enemies try to assassinate his character, French detective Jacques Clouseau, in this 1978 production. Clouseau's own boss, Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Herbert Lom), makes two of the attempts. Throughout the Pink Panther series of films, Clouseau's ineptitude repeatedly drives Dreyfus to the brink of insanity, and Dreyfus lies awake at night plotting Clouseau's murder. In this production, Clouseau pretends that an assassination attempt has succeeded. After he is declared dead, Dreyfus cries tears of joy as he delivers a eulogy. Meanwhile, Clouseau goes sleuthing in disguise to solve his own murder and corral drug-traffickers. From an artistic standpoint, the script of this film is inferior to the scripts of earlier Pink Panther films, for it is really a series of sketches spotlighting Sellers' talents. However, to fans of Sellers, these sketches are among the best--or possibly even be the best--in the entire series of Pink Panther films. In one scene, Sellers shops at a "spy store" for disguises and ends up detecting as a peg-legged sailor with an inflatable parrot, a pinstriped gangster, a priest, and dwarf painter Toulouse Lautrec. Mayhem, mishap, and destruction follow Clouseau everywhere: He explodes a bomb, accidentally sets Dreyfus's office on fire, gets his peg leg stuck in a knothole at a crucial moment, and falls through a floor after a martial-arts romp with his valet Cato (Burt Kwouk). For fans of Sellers, this is a must-have film in spite of its weaknesses.