'Inspector Clouseau' - The Film Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

'Inspector Clouseau' - The Film

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The Pink Panther Films
The Pink Panther (1964) | A Shot In The Dark | Inspector Clouseau
The Return of the Pink Panther | The Pink Panther Strikes Again | Revenge of the Pink Panther
Trail of the Pink Panther | Curse of the Pink Panther | Son of the Pink Panther

There is a time for laughing... this is not one of them.
- Inspector Clouseau in the film Inspector Clouseau

The third film in the series, Inspector Clouseau was the first film not to star Peter Sellers and the only Pink Panther film made in the 20th Century not directed by Blake Edwards. In many ways it is a misfire and is acknowledged as one of the weaker Pink Panther films.


The Prime Minister believes that an organised gang of robbers has an informant within Scotland Yard helping them operate their Europe-wide crime wave, and so Inspector Clouseau is brought in, much to the disapproval of Commissioner Sir Charles Braithwaite of Scotland Yard. Assisted by Superintendent Weaver and his gadgets including a bullet-shooting belt buckle, laser lighter and faulty tape-recorder disguised as a cigarette case, Clouseau becomes obsessed with a poisoned plum pudding and trails the villains across Europe. Unfortunately, the villains are able to take a plaster-cast of Clouseau's face while he is busy being seduced by women in skimpy underwear. The villans create Clouseau masks and rob all the major banks in Switzerland, leaving Clouseau to get the blame.

Will Clouseau be able to clear his name, identify the traitor, hitch a ride in the villain's aquatic car, locate the money and rescue the damsel in distress?


Inspector Jacques ClouseauAlan Arkin
Superintendent WeaverFrank Finlay
Lisa MorrelDelia Boccardo
Addison SteeleBarry Foster
Commissioner Sir Charles BraithwaitePatrick Cargill
Mrs WeaverBeryl Reid
Clyde HargreavesClive Francis
Frenchie LeBecTutte Lemkow
MegKathja Wyeth
JulieTracey Crisp
Bomber LeBecAnthony Ainley
BergeschEric Pohlmann

Clouseau himself, indicated in bold, is the only character in the film to feature in any of the other films in the series. This makes the film seem somewhat distanced from the rest of the series.

Two actors in very minor roles in this film played very minor roles in other Pink Panther films. Eric Pohlmann, who plays Bergesch, would later be the Fat Man in Return of the Pink Panther and Tutte Lemkow, Frenchie LeBec in this film, had been the murdered Kazak dancer in A Shot in the Dark.

Alan Arkin had recently appeared in the Mirisch Corporation's successful comedy The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming, for which he had been nominated for a Best Actor Oscar. Arkin was again nominated for an Oscar in 1969 and would later win a Best Support Actor Oscar in 2007.

Frank Finlay was an Oscar-nominated actor famous for being Inspector Lestrade, Sherlock Holmes' police friend, in 1965's A Study In Terror, a part similar to his role in Inspector Clouseau. In 1967 he had starred as Jean Valjean in a ten-part BBC adaptation of Les Misérables. He would later play Porthos in the Three Musketeers trilogy (1973-1989) directed by Peter Sellers' friend Richard Lester1. Delia Boccardo was an Italian actress appearing in her first English-speaking role. Beryl Reid was a talented British actress who had been nominated for a Golden Globe in 1968 for The Killing of Sister George and would later appear in the television adaptations of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and its sequel, Smiley's People. Also in the cast was Anthony Ainley, who would later become known for his role as The Master in Doctor Who between 1981 and 1989.

The Making of Inspector Clouseau

With The Pink Panther and A Shot in the Dark smash hits, the Mirsich Corporation were desperate for a third film. The problem was that Peter Sellers and Blake Edwards refused to talk to one another. In 1964 Sellers' star was rising, especially on the release of Dr Strangelove, for which he was Oscar-nominated for Best Actor; meanwhile Edwards' reputation met its first major knock when his film The Great Race spiralled out of budgetary control and flopped. In late 1964 Sellers was hired by Billy Wilder to appear in Kiss Me Stupid. While making this film he had multiple arguments with Billy Wilder2 and, as a result of this stress, suffered a flutter of 13 consecutive heart-attacks, with his heart stopping on seven occasions. On his recovery, Sellers gave a bitter interview in which he severely and scathingly criticised Hollywood. This may have influenced the result of the 1965 Best Actor Oscar, which Sellers failed to win.

Through 1966 Sellers was heavily involved in the flop that was Casino Royale, which seriously damaged his reputation as a star at a time when his health problems led him to be considered an insurance risk by Hollywood studios. The Mirisch Corporation, anxious to cash in on the success of Inspector Clouseau, decided in the end to proceed with making a Pink Panther sequel without either Peter Sellers or Blake Edwards, asking actor Alan Arkin to star and hiring director Bud Yorkin, who had television but little film experience. The script was written by brothers Tom and Frank Waldman. This was the first time the Waldmans wrote a Pink Panther script. One or both of the Waldmans would write every successive Pink Panther script made during Peter Sellers' lifetime3.

Peter Sellers, when he heard that the film was going ahead without him, allegedly contacted the Mirisch Corporation, expressing a willingness to make the film provided the script met with his approval. The Mirisch Corporation rejected his offer, and made the film in 1968 without him; however Inspector Clouseau was a commercial and critical disaster.

Blake Edwards would later describe Peter Sellers' reaction with the words:

In all the years I knew Peter, in spite of all the times he swore he was never going to do another Panther, he never stopped complaining about the fact that the Mirisch Company had chosen Arkin. Peter was a collector of grievances, but he seemed to bear more of a grudge concerning the Arkin thing than just about anything else. For the sake of my own sanity, I have long since stopped trying to figure it out, but it is interesting to note that the Arkin role was first offered to Peter – and he refused it.

Curiously, before Inspector Clouseau was released, Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers reconciled their differences and, with Henry Mancini, collaborated on making slapstick comedy The Party. where Peter Sellers' character is accident-prone not unlike Inspector Clouseau. Though The Party was a success, the Mirisch Corporation were convinced by Inspector Clouseau's failure that Clouseau's character had run its course. This was the last time the Mirisch Corporation would make a film in the series.

This film was made by the Mirisch Corporation's UK division, Mirisch Films, in Britain in order to qualify for Britain's Eady Levy film funding scheme.


This is the only film in the series not to have a score written by Henry Mancini, who was working on Edwards' film The Party. Instead the music is by Ken Thorne, who had won an Oscar for his score for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in 1966. He would later compose music for many other films, including Superman II and Superman III. The music is sadly less iconic than Mancini's Pink Panther theme.

Animated Credit Sequence

The highlight of the film, the animated credit sequence was made by De-Patie-Frelang Enterprises. They had made both previous films' animated credit sequences as well as the Pink Panther and Inspector short films, and re-used their Inspector character in the opening sequence to Inspector Clouseau. This was as inventive as before, with the themes of guns and bombs.

The Inspector walks on screen carrying money, is robbed and chases after the villain, falling down stairs, getting shot and bombed. Meanwhile the villain attempts to rob a safe and is shot at by the Inspector. The colours of the Tricolour flag feature prominently. The villain escapes in a hot air balloon whilst shooting at the Inspector.


This is not a bad film; however, it is not a good one either, and at no point does it feel like a follow-up to the previous two films. Alan Arkin does have a Clouseau-moustache, talks in a bizarre 'French' accent and dresses in the familiar hat and Bogart-style raincoat; however that just reinforces that he is not Peter Sellers, and does not do enough to make the role his own. Sellers would re-invent the character of Clouseau in every film in which he appeared, whereas Arkin tries to be the Clouseau of A Shot In The Dark and fails.

There are some great sequences in the film, but they feel like they should have been funnier than they come across. One idea, where Clouseau announces to the world that money has been disguised as chocolate bars, implies scenes of world-wide buying of chocolate, yet this is never shown and too few consequences occur as a result.

Some of the funniest moments in The Pink Panther and A Shot In The Dark occur when Clouseau fails miserably to seduce his wife and the willing Maria Gambrelli. In Inspector Clouseau, women keep throwing themselves at him. It just isn't the same. Similarly, through all his bumbling, Peter Sellers' Clouseau would maintain his façade of dignity, whereas Alan Arkin is happy to fumble.

The script by Panther newcomers the Waldmans is inventive, despite the leader of the robbers being called 'Steele' - a joke that had been done a few times before. However, Sellers was always able improvise, using the script only as a starting point. Arkin does not, and perhaps as a result the film feels rigid and also disjointed. Characters such as Weaver and Lisa just appear next to Clouseau at random moments in the film with no indication as to how they got there, and their actions are often unexplained and bizarre.

Overall, this is an uneven film. Inspector Clouseau cannot make up its mind if it wants to be a detective parody, a James Bond spoof or a crime caper comedy and sadly comes across as a weak mixture of none of these. There are some smiles, if no laughs, to be had.

Connections with other films

  • Disguises
    All films in the series feature disguises. Those in this film are limited to the Clouseau disguises used by the bank robbers.
  • Clouseau Clumsiness:
    • Clouseau falls in a canal.
  • Clouseau tells a taxi driver to 'Follow that hearse', only to be told 'Follow it yourself', similar to events in 'Return of the Pink Panther'.
  • Clouseau survives murder attempts largely as a result of luck, although he does successfully deduce that his plum pudding has been poisoned. He also survives attempts on his life in 'A Shot in the Dark', 'Return', 'Strikes Again' and 'Revenge'.
  • Clouseau commandeers a fish-selling motorbike. Cato would later commandeer an ice-cream selling scooter in Revenge of the Pink Panther.
  • Clouseau defeats the enemy with the use of a futuristic laser built into a lighter. He would defeat Dreyfus with a laser in The Pink Panther Strikes Again.
  • Clouseau is arrested twice – for taking weapons through customs and for bank robbery (framed by the robbers). He is also arrested in 'A Shot in the Dark' and 'Revenge'.
  • Clouseau's chase sequence with the hearse is reminiscent of his getting stuck in traffic when naked in a mini in A Shot In The Dark.
The Pink Panther Films
The Pink Panther (1964) | A Shot In The Dark | Inspector Clouseau
The Return of the Pink Panther | The Pink Panther Strikes Again | Revenge of the Pink Panther
Trail of the Pink Panther | Curse of the Pink Panther | Son of the Pink Panther

1Director of such films as A Hard Days' Night, Help!, Superman II and Superman III as well as co-director of the Oscar-nominated short The Running, Jumping & Standing Still Film with Peter Sellers.2Wilder edited out Sellers and recast him.3They also wrote the script to The Party.

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