A Movie A Day: Quint on THE PINK PANTHER (1963)
Take your filthy hands off my asp!
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.]
Today we come to the first of the Pink Panther films, titled appropriately enough THE PINK PANTHER and starring David Niven (getting top billing) as Sir Charles, a smooth thief, Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau, Capucine as Clouseau’s unfaithful wife, Robert Wagner as a young troublemaker and the radiant Claudia Cardinale as Princess Dala.
I’m sorry Elke Sommer. There’s no comparison. You’re really, really cute, but Cardinale just makes me melt in this movie. I’ve thought she was beautiful in ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST and 8 ½, but damn, guys. There’s something in how she’s lit here, in this ‘60s pop quasi-technicolor comedy cinematography that compliments her.
Going into this film, I knew a few things. I knew that The Pink Panther was the name of a diamond, I knew that David Niven was a thief and I knew that Clouseau was going to be slightly different from the one I saw yesterday in A SHOT IN THE DARK.
I will say that Clouseau isn’t radically different as a character. He’s just as bumbling, but he is a little more competent than he is in A SHOT IN THE DARK. I’d call him more accident prone than bumbling, but there’s a fair amount of that in there. He doesn’t mix up his words as much, but it’s the same character.
It is true that he isn’t the lead, but the co-lead. Huge chunks of the film are seen through David Niven’s point of view as he woos Cardinale, his mark.
So I didn’t mind that Sellers wasn’t the main focus. I said yesterday I love David Niven and he’s on fire here, giving his character some real depth. He’s part happy-go-lucky thief, cocksure and happy with his life. He’s a womanizer, a slight boozer, but goddamn good at his job. But he’s also part middle-aged man, realizing his life is fleeting. All these parties, friends… they’re meaningless, passing things. The only thing he really has is the game, the set-up and execution of a robbery.
There’s a wonderful scene, a straight up real drama scene, as Cardinale gets drunk for the first time, Niven feeding her champagne. It’s a remarkable scene because it’s a good chunk of the movie (probably pushing 10 minutes) and isn’t played for laughs at all. In it we see that Niven and Cardinale would actually make a great couple. She brings out his humanity and he lets her hang loose, ditching her inhibitions and the strict code her father imposed on her.
I say the scene isn’t played for laughs, but there is comedy in it. It is just not the main focus. At this point in the movie, the focus is on two characters who could exists outside of the slapstick world of The Pink Panther. It’s a marvelous scene.
Sellers also has a lot of stand-outs, of course. Most of these I had seen, unfortunately out of context, like the introductory scene for Clousou, where he spins his globe to make a point and then goes to lean on it absentmindedly, sending him crashing to the floor and his “candle” moment during the costume party.
But there’s a fantasticly elaborate scene where both Niven and Wagner are in his hotel room with his wife and she’s trying to hide them both from her husband. It’s a spectacular juggling act and was amazing to watch.
I think the most surprising element to this movie is that A SHOT IN THE DARK is told 100% from Clouseau’s point of view and this movie almost none of it is from his point of view. We’re either following Niven or Capucine, but I think the bridge is there. The very end of the movie we shift POV into Clouseau, so there’s at least that.
And speaking of the ending, the climax of the picture takes place during a costume party and it’s crazy. Sellers is dressed in a suit of armor, which means, of course, that he has a restricted range of movement and a certain amount of noise involved when moving and falling, which is used to maximum effect.
You can’t talk about this movie without bringing up Henry Mancini’s iconic score. The jazzy theme really is the heartbeat of the movie and it somehow melds perfectly with the world on the screen, even if I couldn’t classify it immediately as a comedy score. It has become comedic by association, but you know what I mean.
Final Thoughts: The laughs don’t come as freely and constantly as A SHOT IN THE DARK, but it’s no less entertaining and even a bit more effecting thanks to some great character work by David Niven and Claudia Cardinale, who is easily in the top 10 of the most beautiful women ever to walk this earth. The comedy is staged to perfection and it keeps in tone with A SHOT IN THE DARK even if ASITD is probably the more fun of the two.
The schedule for the next 7 days is:
Friday, September 12th: THE RETURN OF THE PINK PANTHER (1975)
Saturday, September 13th: THE PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN (1976)
Sunday, September 14th: REVENGE OF THE PINK PANTHER (1978)
Monday, September 15th: THE TRAIL OF THE PINK PANTHER (1982)
Tuesday, September 16th: THE REAL GLORY (1939)
Wednesday, September 17th: THE WINNING OF BARBARA WORTH (1926)
Thursday, September 18th: THE COWBOY AND THE LADY (1938)
More Panthering going on this week! Got a busy two days in LA left before I head back home, so hopefully I can keep up with everything. I’ll be doing my best!
June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast a Giant Shadow
July 23rd: Out of the Past
July 24th: The Big Steal
July 25th: Where Danger Lives
July 26th: Crossfire
July 27th: Ricco, The Mean Machine
July 28th: In Harm’s Way
July 29th: Firecreek
July 30th: The Cheyenne Social Club
July 31st: The Man Who Knew Too Much
August 1st: The Spirit of St. Louis
August 2nd: Von Ryan’s Express
August 3rd: Can-Can
August 4th: Desperate Characters
August 5th: The Possession of Joel Delaney
August 6th: Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx
August 7th: Start the Revolution Without Me
August 8th: Hell Is A City
August 9th: The Pied Piper
August 10th: Partners
August 11th: Barry Lyndon
August 12th: The Skull
August 13th: The Hellfire Club
August 14th: Blood of the Vampire
August 15th: Terror of the Tongs
August 16th: Pirates of Blood River
August 17th: The Devil-Ship Pirates
August 18th: Jess Franco’s Count Dracula
August 19th: Dracula A.D. 1972
August 20th: The Stranglers of Bombay
August 21st: Man, Woman & Child
August 22nd: The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane
August 23rd: The Young Philadelphians
August 24th: The Rack
August 25th: Until They Sail
August 26th: Somebody Up There Likes Me
August 27th: The Set-Up
August 28th: The Devil & Daniel Webster
August 29th: Cat People
August 30th: The Curse of the Cat People
August 31st: The 7th Victim
September 1st: The Ghost Ship
September 2nd: Isle of the Dead
September 3rd: Bedlam
September 4th: Black Sabbath
September 5th: Black Sunday
September 6th: Twitch of the Death Nerve
September 7th: Tragic Ceremony
September 8th: Lisa & The Devil
September 9th: Baron Blood
September 10th: A Shot In The Dark
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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Sept. 12, 2008, 3:12 a.m. CST
There, i did it for you...As for The Pink Panther, man, that was a movie i loved as kid. loved all those flicks. Haven't seen them for years. Wanting to revisit them now. Wondering if there is a blu-ray release soon???
Sept. 12, 2008, 3:16 a.m. CST
Sept. 12, 2008, 3:18 a.m. CST
Sept. 12, 2008, 3:20 a.m. CST
As a fan of these films since childhood, it's cool to hear the opinion of someone who's appreciating them for the first time. However a warning Quint, I'd rethink your viewing schedule if I were you. Although nearly all the Pink Panther movies are great (with slightly diminishing returns in my opinion) watching them pretty much back to back may not be the best approach. I had to cut a promo campaign for a season featuring the entire series a few years back. This entailed me watching the first 5 movies back to back over 2 days and man I had severe Panther burn by the end of it. It's kind of hard to stay focussed and objective after that much increasingly manic Clouseau. Just my advice mate.
Sept. 12, 2008, 3:21 a.m. CST
that you've never seen these films, Quint. If your of a certain age in the UK I think they passed a law to make you watch these and The Italian Job! And to love them. Sure it the last couple of Panther films it obvious that money was the primary force behind making the films, but it's equally obvious that all involved had a blast doing them. If you liked Herbert Lom in A Shot In The Dark and the fights with Kato, gonna love the next couple of films. Growing up as a kid I can't remember laughing so much as when that sheer lunicy was happening on screen.
Sept. 12, 2008, 3:33 a.m. CST
How does a professional film critic go through life without ever watching a Pink Panther movie?
Sept. 12, 2008, 3:46 a.m. CST
look at it this way, we all give him mad props for watching a movie a day, but I'm SURE Quint is watching more then one movie a day, what with test screenings, press screenings, new releases, indie flicks, retrospectives, movies on airplanes, TCM, etc it can be overwhelming in addition to having a personal life, and if I remember correctly Quint is only in his mid to late 20s, say he's 25 and got into movies at 15 that's only 10 years of watching movies (I'm just guesstimating here)and they have been making movies for how long in how many countries<P>I'm a geek sure but it wasn't until a couple of years ago, I finally watched an episode of Dr. Who, I read the Hobbit at 10 but didn't touch LOTR until 22, how many of us REALLY can turn on TCM and say "I've seen all of those" when they list the movies coming up. It's not like Quint is Robert Osborne
Sept. 12, 2008, 3:59 a.m. CST
the guys got my dream job and good luck to him too. He's one of the best writers on the site and his and my opinions on film pretty much match. Its just..... how do not go through childhood and not see a Clouseu/Kato fight or watch Lom do slowly going crazy nutjob lunatic boss better than anyone had done before or since. Quint, if you like Niven pleeeease tell me that you've seen A Matter Of Life And Death (Stairway to Heaven I think its called in the US) That really would be way out there if you've not seen that. And if you have not... get it on this list ASA fucking P. You'll be publicly thanking me.
Sept. 12, 2008, 4:13 a.m. CST
"Trail..." is coming! "Trail..." is coming! "Trail..." is coming! "Trail..." is coming! "Trail..." is coming! "Trail..." is coming! "Trail..." is coming! "Trail..." is coming! "Trail..." is coming! Dear sweet Jeeeeeeeeeezus NOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooo!
Sept. 12, 2008, 4:25 a.m. CST
I've always been of the belief that "A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH" is the best British movie ever made and has the best opening 10mins of ANY movie. David Niven was also brilliant in the underrated "PAPER TIGER" which is worth checking out if you've not seen it Quint. That is all.
Sept. 12, 2008, 5:14 a.m. CST
Their his autobiographies "The Moon's a Balloon" & "Bring on the Empty Horses". Easily 2 of my desert island books.<p><p>Very,& painfully funny, sweet & tragic, although apparantly fairly inaccurate. But when you read them, ya just couldn't care less as your having too much fun.<p><p>If you've ever seen Niven interviewed he had an anecdote for every occasion. Seriously, find them!! Same goes for the rest of you.
Sept. 12, 2008, 5:18 a.m. CST
...and Death. Just an incredible film technically and has a real emotional punch. Not bad for a film that was designed to be war propaganda. Personally think it was Powell & Pressburgers best. But considering the other films they produced, that really is saying something!!
Sept. 12, 2008, 5:33 a.m. CST
Michael Powell would be best British director too, if it wasn't for Hitchcock!
Sept. 12, 2008, 5:40 a.m. CST
... but still a great movie to introduce the world to Clouseau. True, as Quint says he's not as bumbling or inept as in the rest of the series but he still owns this film even if he shares the lead with Niven. The ten minute scene between Niven and Claudia Cardinale is memorable, for me at least, by Cardinale's attempt to say 'safari' whilst completely pissed out of her head. Or is it 'frasari'?
Sept. 12, 2008, 6:14 a.m. CST
It’s a fine suggestion which I second: Next time you are on a flight make sure you have a copy of Nivens “the moon’s a balloon” on hand to read; then once your done come back here and review it so we can while away a talkback talking about what a fucking legend David Niven was. Then Move on to Errol Flyns “My Wicked Ways” as a chaser.
Sept. 12, 2008, 6:28 a.m. CST
by Mr Nicholas
And I totally agree about Claudia Cardinale. Breathtakingly beautiful.
Sept. 12, 2008, 6:35 a.m. CST
... Niven gets top billing. He has the main character here. Clouseau was popular, so they brought him forward for the next movies.
Sept. 12, 2008, 7:16 a.m. CST
by L. Ron Bumquist
It is very entertaining.
Sept. 12, 2008, 7:44 a.m. CST
Don't shortchange "The Pink Panther Strikes Again". It was one of my favorite films growing up. It also makes a great double-feature with "Moonraker" if you want to explain the mid to late 70s to people.
Sept. 12, 2008, 7:46 a.m. CST
Try a film called 'The Party'...not sure if this was made before or during the first few 'Panther' films but it's hilarious....very little dialogue but ample Sellers slapstick comedy as he plays an Indian film extra invited to a film execs party.
Sept. 12, 2008, 8:40 a.m. CST
You'll only see the Party on DVD now. It has some fantastic moments, but Sellers blacked up as an Indian seems to be up there with Guy Gibson's dog in the Dambusters these days.
Sept. 12, 2008, 8:51 a.m. CST
Yup! That's the late 70's right there! Although I'd maybe throw in "Sinbad & The Eye Of The Tiger" from personal experience.
Sept. 12, 2008, 9:06 a.m. CST
by Guy Gaduois
is kind of an inside joke on a bet that I lost with a friend. I insisted Inspector Clouseau's alias was Guy Gaduois, my friend insisted it was Guy Gadbois. From what we could gather, he was right, and I have borne my failure and shame proudly. I'm often mistaken for a French Canadian. Not that there's anything wrong with that. <p> All that to say the Pink Panther / Clouseau / Sellers' films are my wheelhouse and joy. I grew up on Sellers' work. Mike Myers tries very hard, but he's no Sellers. Dr. Strangelove is absolute genius. <p> But in "Returns", watch for the exchange at the end, "Good Litton, Lady Lord". The gag with the light bulb is great and Plummer is kind of bad-ass in this, too. The hills are alive with the sound of finger breaking. <p> "Strikes Again" has the most gags per minute, but it's a little sad how often Sellers had to be doubled - his health was miserable at the time. I will never forget my Dad taking me out of some lame Disney feature as a kid and going into 'Strikes Again'. Colossally cool, Dad. Did the same thing with 'Blazing Saddles'. My Dad was cooler than your Dad.
Sept. 12, 2008, 10:28 a.m. CST
was awesome. A naked dude just runs behind him onstage on live tv in the early 70s Oscar show and Niven makes a remark about the dude revealing his "shortcomings"! I don't know anybody else would still be that cool and witty after something like that.
Sept. 12, 2008, 11:01 a.m. CST
We were right about watching them out of order, weren't we!
Sept. 12, 2008, 11:18 a.m. CST
I go back and forth over Mancini all of the time. I have been a fan for all 43 years of my life, but a few years ago, I heard Dizzy Gillespie's "Manteca", which came out during the mid-fifties. If you've never heard it, listen to it. Then listen to Mancini's score during any party scene of any film he worked on from "Charade" and "Breakfast At Tiffany's" to "The Pink Panther". They are virtually the same. Same build, same kinds of stings and muted trumpet solos. It's a wonder Gillespie never called him on it. Curiously Mancini's score for "The Party" doesn't have any "Manteca" rip offs in it at all. It's much more "Hollywood Groovy" and more reminiscent of "After The Fox". And now I shut up.
Sept. 12, 2008, 11:39 a.m. CST
There's an old rumor that the streaker was staged. For a live broadcast, the camera angle was just so, as to not "show" anything. This WAS the mid '70s and streaking was the rage back then.<p>Although, scripted or not, Niven's reaction was perfect.
Sept. 12, 2008, 12:37 p.m. CST
You cannot truely appreciate these movies until you force yourself to sit through Son of the Pink Panther. Then and only then can you appreciate how 'lighntning in a bottle' this series of films actually was.
Sept. 12, 2008, 12:53 p.m. CST
But I never liked the Pink Panther movies. I haven't seen any of them since I was a kid, maybe I should give them another try.
Sept. 12, 2008, 1:34 p.m. CST
by Col. Tigh-Fighter
So there :)
Sept. 12, 2008, 1:54 p.m. CST
by The Dum Guy
in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.<br><br>I've watched almost all the Panther movies, except for the remake and Son OTPP, but I always liked this one as a movie more than the rest, albeit I do like the Kato fight scenes (as a kid those always made me laugh, esp. when they don't fight fair).
Sept. 12, 2008, 2:37 p.m. CST
Claudia is a GODDESS!!<p>Ok,now that I got that out of the way. Glad you loved this Quint. One other thing, this film has to be watched in wide screen. Because you lose the set-up for Sellers being grabbed for the "conga-line" during "Meglio Stasera." And the "safe-cracking" joke is lost in "pan & scan."<p>This film is loaded with a "Where's Waldo" layer of enjoyment, especially for it's influence on comedies and Bond movies. You see where Lester got the idea for the ski resort sequence in "Help", Paul Gleason in the gorilla outfit during "Trading Places" as well as Bond in "Octopussy." Oh, and in "For Your Eyes Only" Bond is at the same Cortina resort, and their man in Cortina, Luigi Ferrara, dresses exactly like Clouseu.<p>MMMMM..Claudia....(drool)-----later-----m
Sept. 12, 2008, 2:48 p.m. CST
by Right Bastard
Strap yourself in for that one, Quint.
Sept. 12, 2008, 3:12 p.m. CST
by Right Bastard
and mad props for mentioning "Murder By Death" yesterday.
Sept. 12, 2008, 4:38 p.m. CST
by Jonas Grumpy
On that "You Only Live Once..." poster? The guy who used to illustrate for Mad Magazine? Many, many moons ago? Before he died? That guy?
Sept. 12, 2008, 5:37 p.m. CST
Quint will have a so-so Friday and Sunday ... and a KICK-ASS SATURDAY! Of course, any Sellers is good Sellers ... but "Strikes Again" tops 'em all, IMHO. Enjoy, Quint! P.S. - Right Bastard, agreed!
Sept. 12, 2008, 5:41 p.m. CST
Close, and good eye. It's Jack Davis. And I believe he's still alive. Wiki gives no DOD.
Sept. 12, 2008, 7 p.m. CST
it ends with the entire apartment blowing up even.
Sept. 12, 2008, 7:03 p.m. CST
1.Strikes Again <P> 2.Shot in the Dark <P> 3.Return <P> 4.Revenge <P> 5.Pink Panther <p> yes even though the 1st one sellers isnt the main character and the others arent funny.
Sept. 12, 2008, 8:28 p.m. CST
I also admit reading these reviews makes me want to watch the PP series again. I haven’t seen them in years and years. I’m not sure if I saw Return or Strikes Again from beginning to end, but I watched big chunks of them on TV way back when. I’ll probably wait until they’re available in HD and then pick them up.<p>I looked up A Matter of Life and Death on Amazon and the only copy is from an outside seller for $124.67!!! I think it’s about time for a second release, preferable in HD.<p>It’s surmised that Niven had a comment ready to go at the Oscars IF a streaker let loose. It was the rage back then and goofy stuff can happen live. I’d imagine Jon Stewart or Billy Crystal have similar one-liners ready if something similar happened.
Sept. 13, 2008, 12:08 a.m. CST
A MATTER... is about £4 ($7ish) at the moment...
Sept. 14, 2008, 8:16 a.m. CST
Man, you just hit the trifecta for me. Throw in "The Black Hole" and you've got the superfecta.