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The Pink Panther Film Series

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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

The Pink Panther film series is one of the most successful comedy series of all time, with 11 films to date between 1963 and 20091. Although four different actors have played the main character of Inspector Jacques Clouseau, it is Peter Sellers who dominated and defined the role. He transformed a minor supporting character in the first film, The Pink Panther, into a comedy phenomenon. No other actor has been able to fill the role in the same way.

  • 1964 - The Pink Panther
  • 1964 - A Shot in the Dark
  • 1968 - Inspector Clouseau
  • 1975 - The Return of the Pink Panther
  • 1976 - The Pink Panther Strikes Again
  • 1978 - Revenge of the Pink Panther
  • 1982 - Trail of the Pink Panther
  • 1983 - Curse of the Pink Panther
  • 1993 - Son of the Pink Panther
  • 2006 - The Pink Panther
  • 2009 - The Pink Panther 2


Jacques Clouseau
Chief Inspector
Charles Dreyfus
        Cato        Sir Charles Lytton
The Pink PantherPeter SellersDavid Niven
A Shot In The DarkPeter SellersHerbert LomBurt Kwouk
Inspector ClouseauAlan Arkin
The Return of the Pink PantherPeter SellersHerbert LomBurt KwoukChristopher Plummer
The Pink Panther Strikes AgainPeter SellersHerbert LomBurt Kwouk
Revenge of the Pink PantherPeter SellersHerbert LomBurt Kwouk
Trail of the Pink PantherPeter SellersHerbert LomBurt KwoukDavid Niven
Curse of the Pink PantherRoger MooreHerbert LomBurt KwoukDavid Niven
Son of the Pink PantherHerbert LomBurt Kwouk
The Pink PantherSteve MartinKevin Kline
The Pink Panther 2Steve MartinJohn Cleese

Inspector Jacques Clouseau

Inspector Jacques Clouseau is a clumsy yet lucky detective. He is known to have been in the French Resistance in his early life, and was inspired to become a detective when his great aunt was kidnapped by an Armenian phrenologist. Although in The Pink Panther he is unable to notice that his wife Simone is having an affair beneath his nose, and is wrongly gaoled for the theft of the Pink Panther, he is later considered the greatest detective in the world, admired by the French President and the 'Peup'2. After his marriage to Simone ends he employs a manservant, Cato, as a valet. Cato is also instructed to attack him whenever possible to keep his self-defence skills honed. Clouseau considers himself a master of disguise, frequently getting costumes from the shop of Professor Auguste Balls. A frequent target for assassination, Clouseau is able to survive anything through luck and clumsiness. His affair with Maria Gambrelli produced twins, Jacques and Jacqueline Gambrelli.

Clouseau's accent becomes more and more eccentric as he gets older.

Blake Edwards named Clouseau after French director Henri-Georges Clouzot. Sellers would later describe his approach to the character by saying:

I just sit back and observe him, and think what a funny fellow he is. I'm not looking at myself, I'm looking at this lunatic with the funny accent and wondering what he's going to do next.

Edwards agreed, describing Peter Sellers' fascination with the role with the words:

That Clouseau character was just so special with him because he... had the ability to stand off and look at this fool that was doing these things and be totally amused by him. He had this kind of strange objectivity about this character and I'm not at all sure that he had that with [his] other characters.

Commissioner Charles Dreyfus

Commissioner, later Chief Inspector, Charles Dreyfus is Inspector Clouseau's superior officer. He is constantly infuriated by Clouseau and the carnage that surrounds him, often provoking a twitching eyelid. He regularly attempts to kill Clouseau and even holds the world to ransom with a disintegrator ray, forcing the world's best assassins to attempt to eliminate Clouseau. Neither his death by accidental disintegration nor his bouts of murderous madness prevent him from returning to his job in the police force with full pay and benefits. Dreyfuss later marries Clouseau's lover Maria Gambrelli.

Cato 'Kato' Fong

'You must learn to attack me whenever and wherever I least expect it, and you must give no quarter.'
- Clouseau to Cato, A Shot In The Dark

Cato3 is the servant of Inspector Clouseau. Instructed by his employer to attack him without warning to help keep him on his toes, Cato often lays elaborate traps and ambushes within the Clouseau residence, although should the phone ring he will stop what he is doing and become the perfect manservant4.

Although Clouseau's treatment of Cato sometimes borders on being racist5, especially with disparaging remarks on the colour of his skin, there is no one that Clouseau trusts more. When Clouseau is almost assassinated in Revenge of the Pink Panther, it is Cato to whom Clouseau reveals that he is still alive.

Cato has long held a desire to own and run a high-class brothel and later opens a museum to Inspector Clouseau's memory. Cato is the only recurring character in the Pink Panther series to have been played by only one actor, Burt Kwouk.

Sir Charles Lytton - The Phantom

Sir Charles Lytton is a rich, British aristocrat known for being a notorious womaniser, nicknamed 'The Juggler', who attempts to seduce Princess Dala, the owner of the most fabulous diamond in the world, the Pink Panther. He is also the jewel thief known as The Phantom, famed for leaving a white glove inscribed with a 'P' at his crime scenes. Aiding him in these thefts is Clouseau's wife Simone, who Sir Charles later marries (after being briefly married to fellow thief Lady Claudine Lytton). He has a nephew named George.

Curiously, in later films his surname is spelt 'Litton' rather than 'Lytton'.

Simone Clouseau/Lytton

The fur-loving wife of Inspector Clouseau, Simone has an affair with Sir Charles behind his back and aids the Phantom in his thefts. Like her husband, Simone is a master of disguise. Simone even frames Clouseau for the theft of the Pink Panther, sending her husband to prison. Later, Simone marries Sir Charles Lytton.

Professor Auguste Balls

Remember that when duty calls
You have Balls

The eccentric designer and seller who makes Clouseau's disguises in the later Pink Panther films (and successfully treated Clouseau's aunt's high blood pressure). His first appearance was edited out of The Pink Panther Strikes Again and so he was first seen in Revenge of the Pink Panther. Balls was played by both Harvey Korman and Graham Stark.

Sergeant François Duval/Chevalier

François was originally Dreyfus's assistant but when Dreyfus is sectioned he becomes Clouseau's assistant. He agrees with Dreyfus that Clouseau is a bumbling idiot. Curiously, in some films he is called François Duval, in others François Chevalier. François was one of the few French characters to be played by a French actor, André Maranne, who died in 1992. In 1993's Son of the Pink Panther he was instead played by Irish actor Dermot Crowley.

The Pink Panther

The Pink Panther itself is a rare, pink diamond owned by the ruler of the fictional country of Lugash and given to Princess Dala as a child. It is called the Pink Panther after a flaw within which can be seen the figure of a leaping panther. After a military coup, Dala flees from Lugash with the jewel, with international courts asked to decide who the jewel belonged to – Dala or the people of Lugash. At this time the Phantom plots to steal the diamond, with Inspector Clouseau framed for its theft.

The Pink Panther is returned to Lugash and contained within the Lugash National Museum, only to be stolen again, apparently by the Phantom. Colonel Sharki of the Lugash Secret Police uses the theft of the diamond as an excuse to purge his political opponents, but the diamond is recovered. It is stolen once again, with Clouseau sent to Lugash to investigate; however, his aeroplane never arrives. An incompetent American policeman, Sergeant Sleigh, is hired to investigate and concludes that it was Inspector Clouseau who stole the jewel, whilst disguised as jewel-thief Gino Rossi. In fact it was stolen by Gino Rossi for Countess Chandra, then stolen from Countess Chandra by Sir Charles, Simone and George Lytton.

The Pink Panther jewel itself appears in The Pink Panther, The Return of the Pink Panther, Trail of the Pink Panther and Curse of the Pink Panther, as well as the two 21st Century films starring Steve Martin. The name 'Pink Panther' became synonymous with the film series, and so the title 'Pink Panther' was used even in films in which the jewel does not appear.


Peter Sellers CBE

One of the most complicated and talented actors of the 20th Century, Richard Henry Sellers was known from birth as 'Peter' after his older brother who died at birth. The only surviving child of vaudeville parents in Southsea, Portsmouth, during the Second World War he enlisted in the RAF, but with his comedy talent and poor eyesight joined the Entertainmaints National Service Association, entertaining troops to raise morale until 1948. After the war he broke into radio, in 1951 joining Harry Secombe and Spike Milligan in The Goon Show, playing several characters including Bluebottle, Major Bloodnok, Henry Crun, Hercules Grytpype-Thynne and Willium 'Mate' Cobblers.

Despite his fame as a radio comedian, he was desperate to be an actor, inspired by Stan Laurel and Alec Guinness. He was also very fond of cameras, making his own films. In 1959 he bought a new camera and asked his friends Spike Milligan, Graham Stark and Richard 'Dick' Lester6 to help him try it out. The result was The Running, Jumping & Standing Still Film, an Oscar-nominated 11-minute long short film, which led to Dick Lester being asked by the Beatles to direct A Hard Day's Night7.

Sellers acted alongside Herbert Lom and Alec Guinness in 1955's The Ladykillers in a minor role, however it was in 1959 that his acting career took off, playing three roles in The Mouse That Roared and winning a best-acting BAFTA for I'm All Right Jack. In 1960 he appeared as a leading-man in The Millionairess, after which he was determined to always be a leading-man, slimming down drastically. In 1962 he worked with legendary director Stanley Kubrick8 in Lolita as Clare Quilty. He only was involved in filming for 14 days; however, he expanded his minor role and was nominated for a Golden Globe. In an interview in 1974 when asked about who he had enjoyed working with the most, Sellers said:

People like Blake [Edwards] and Stanley Kubrick [who] really understand me.

In 1962 he appeared in The Pink Panther as a last-minute replacement for Sir Peter Ustinov. This was a minor role, billed fifth after Sir Charles Lytton, Simone Clouseau, George Lytton and Princess Dala. However, with director Blake Edwards' support he transformed the role he had been given into the starring lead without changing the screenplay through his physical presence and talent.

Like other celebrities including Paul McCartney and Frank Sinatra, Sellers became an honorary NYPD detective, in this case thanks to his role as Inspector Clouseau.

Edwards once described Sellers with the words:

If there was one behavioral quality that you could guarantee, it was that if he was coming off a very bad time, if he hadn't had a successful film, he was cooperative, he was funny, he was determined to come back. If, however, he had been successful, he was so arrogant and so impossible you didn't want to go to work.

Sellers was tremendously superstitious throughout his life. By all accounts when his personal clairvoyant, Maurice Woodruff predicted that he would have a successful, lasting relationship with someone with the initials 'BE', he immediately married Britt Ekland, divorcing her four years later. Many have speculated that in fact it would be director Blake Edwards that he had this successful, lasting relationship with.

Peter Sellers was renowned for feeling so little identity of his own that he would emotionally become the character he was playing, saying, 'When I finish a picture I feel a horrible sudden loss of identity' when interviewed. However Clouseau was different. Part of the appeal of playing Clouseau was that it allowed him not to be the character, but to be an actor. Herbert Lom explained

He used to think of Clouseau as 'him', not as 'I' and he used to tell me... you know I thought of some wonderful stuff for him last night and the him was the Clouseau. 'Cos half the script was improvised by Peter, sometimes for much too long.

Sellers' life would later be dramatised in the film The Life and Death of Peter Sellers.

Herbert Lom

Herbert Charles Angelo Kuchacevich ze Schluderpacheru, or Lom for short, was born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1917, but moved to London before the start of the Second World War. He starred in numerous films from the 1940s onwards, including opposite Sellers in 1955's The Ladykillers. He was Tigranes Levantus in Kubrick's Spartacus in 1960, Captain Nemo in 1961's Mysterious Island, but it is the eye-twitching Charles Dreyfus in the Pink Panther films for which Herbert Lom is best known.

My twitch in the Pink Panther series started because Peter ad-libbed a wink at me. My character was miserable and he winked to cheer me up. I winked back but as my nerves were stronger than I was I went on winking for about thirty seconds. The director, Blake Edwards, said, 'Keep that in!'

Burt Kwouk OBE

Burt Kwouk was born in Manchester in 1930 and is best known for playing Cato from A Shot In The Dark onwards. He appeared in three James Bond films in the 1960s. In 1964's Goldfinger he was Mr Ling, the Chinese scientist who sets up Goldfinger's bomb in Fort Knox. He appeared briefly in 1967's spoof Casino Royale, which starred David Niven and Peter Sellers as a general, and was a member of SPECTRE9 in You Only Live Twice. He was involved in Peter Seller's last film, The Fiendish Plot of Dr Fu Manchu, having been in 1966's Brides of Fu Manchu.

He has also appeared frequently on television, including Commandant Yamauchi in Tenko, in Space Precinct, as the voice-over host of Banzai and he even appeared in The Last of the Summer Wine10 between 2002 and 2010.

The pictures, for some reason, became larger in scale as they went on. A Shot in the Dark was pretty small scale, the last one was a huge epic. I'll tell you the honest truth, I can no longer tell one movie from the other. It just seems like one enormous 12 hour movie that took 20 years to shoot.

David Niven

Academy Award winning actor David Niven was born in London in 1910 and was appointed a Lieutenant after graduating from Sandhurst Royal Military College. He travelled to Hollywood and appeared in films there, notably as a gentleman-thief in 1939's Raffles11, before returning to England to enlist during the Second World War. He did make films during the war including The First of the Few, the story of how RJ Mitchell's designed the Spitfire.

Niven returned to acting after the war, notably in 1946's A Matter Of Life And Death. In 1958 he won the Best Actor Oscar for Separate Tables; however, it was his appearance in Raffles that led to his casting as gentleman-thief The Phantom in The Pink Panther. This was the second of four films he would make with Peter Sellers after a cameo appearance in Road to Hong Kong, followed by Casino Royale, in which he would play Sir James Bond while Peter Sellers was James Bond 007. After that came Murder By Death, a spoof of detective films in which Peter Sellers was Inspector Sidney Wang, based on Charlie Chan, while David Niven played Dick Charleston, based on Nick Charles from The Thin Man.

In 1975 Niven was unavailable to play Sir Charles Lytton in The Return of the Pink Panther and so for that film The Phantom was played by Christopher Plummer12, who had acted alongside director Blake Edwards' wife Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. After Peter Sellers' death, David Niven returned to play Sir Charles Lytton twice more, in Trail of the Pink Panther and Curse of the Pink Panther, although at the time he was suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis13 and so his voice was dubbed by Rich Little.

Graham Stark

Comedian Graham Stark was one of Peter Sellers' closest friends – both were in the RAF, and they had frequently worked together since The Goon Show. Stark appears in seven Pink Panther films, starting in A Shot In The Dark as Clouseau's assistant Hercule, a role he would return to in Trail of the Pink Panther. In The Return of the Pink Panther he is Pepi, in The Pink Panther Strikes Again he is the Munich hotel clerk and in Curse of the Pink Panther he plays a waiter. Perhaps his biggest role was Professor Balls in Revenge of the Pink Panther and Son of the Pink Panther, a role shared with Harvey Korman.

Director - Blake Edwards

The grandson of silent-movie director J Gordon Edwards, Blake Edwards was a long admirer of early, silent films, especially slapstick. After an early career as an actor in the 1940s Edwards became a television writer, creating the 1959 television series Peter Gunn, an American detective series, which had music by composer/conductor Henry Mancini. In 1959 he directed the highly-successful Operation Petticoat which he followed up with 1961's hit Breakfast at Tiffany's and 1962's Experiment in Terror and Days of Wine and Roses. Edwards acquired a reputation as a 'golden boy', and so the Mirisch Corporation offered to fund his next project and allow Blake complete freedom to direct. The project that Blake Edwards chose was The Pink Panther, which he co-wrote with Maurice Richlin. Richlin had proposed a film about a suave jewel thief who was having a relationship with the wife of the police inspector trying to catch him.

Despite being married to Julie Andrews, after The Pink Panther his 'golden boy' image began to fade with costly flops such as The Great Race and Darling Lili. In later life he seemed desperate to re-capture his original successes, continuing the Pink Panther series after the death of Peter Sellers, perhaps in an unsuccessful attempt to prove that he, and not Sellers, was the real talent behind the series. He also tried more than once to re-launch Peter Gunn. He did still make successful original films including 10 in 1979, SOB in 1981 and Victor/Victoria in 1982. After the failure of Son of the Pink Panther, Edwards retired. He was awarded an honorary Oscar in 2004 and died in 2010.

Blake Edwards was nicknamed 'Blackie' Edwards, not from his name Blake, but due to his frequent dark moods which gave him a reputation of being a very difficult person to work with.

Composer - Henry Mancini

Enrico 'Henry' Mancini began composing music for Universal Pictures in the early 1950s for films such as Ray Harryhausen's It Came From Outer Space and 1954's Glenn Miller Story, for which he was first nominated for a Best Music Oscar, losing to Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Mancini met Edwards when he scored the theme for Peter Gunn, for which he won a Grammy Award. This was the beginning of a successful relationship with Blake Edwards, who asked Mancini to compose the score for many of his following films, including 1962's Breakfast At Tiffany's, which won two Oscars for Best Music and Best Song (for 'Moon River', lyrics by Johnny Mercer). In 1963 Mancini and Mercer co-won the Best Song Oscar for Days of Wine and Roses, and in 1964 the two were nominated for an Oscar for Charade.

Henry Mancini was asked to do the theme for The Pink Panther, creating one of the most famous film themes of all time. For this, Mancini held auditions to find the perfect saxophonist, choosing Plas Johnson.

In 1965 Mancini was Oscar nominated for Best Music for the distinctive jazz theme for The Pink Panther. Blake Edwards' wife Julie Andrews beat The Pink Panther with Mary Poppins14. Fortunately The Pink Panther theme won three much-deserved Grammy awards and was a top-ten hit in 1964. Henry Mancini would later receive another Oscar nomination for his song for The Pink Panther Strikes Again, 'Come To Me' sung by Tom Jones with lyrics by Don Black, in 1977, losing to Barbara Streisand. His last Oscar would be won for Victor/Victoria's Best Score. In 2005 the American Film Institute listed The Pink Panther as having the 20th greatest film score of all time.

The Pink Panther's theme would later be used in every Blake Edwards directed Pink Panther film except A Shot In The Dark and would also be used in the Pink Panther cartoon series. This was not the original intention, as Henry Mancini himself wrote:

That music was designed as the Phantom thief music, not to be the Pink Panther theme.

In his career, Henry Mancini was nominated for 18 Academy Awards, winning four, all of which were for films directed by Blake Edwards. He was nominated for 72 Grammys, winning 20. He also won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for two Emmys. He is rightly considered one of the greatest film composers of all time.

The Film Series

Eleven Pink Panther films have been made to date:

1964 - The Pink Panther

The Pink Panther was intended as a film about a jewel-thief, with Inspector Clouseau a minor character. Despite few changes to the script, Peter Seller's performance stole the stage, inspired in part by the dignity of Stan Laurel, which matched perfectly with director Blake Edwards' love of early silent Buster Keaton comedies.

The film was financed by Mirisch Film Ltd, a company owned by the Mirisch Corporation set up in Britain in order to qualify for Britain's Eady Levy film funding. The Mirisch Corporation was owned by brothers Walter, Marvin and Harold Mirisch and had an agreement in which United Artists would distribute their films, but the Mirisch Corporation would finance their films themselves. United Artists later purchased the Mirisch Corporation and gained ownership of their characters, including those in The Pink Panther.

1964 - A Shot in the Dark

After making The Pink Panther, Sellers was contracted by the Mirisch Corporation to appear in A Shot in the Dark. This was to be a filmed version of a popular stage play by Harry Kurnitz adapted from a French play, L'Idiote by Marcel Achard. Peter Sellers was reluctant to do it, but as he had enjoyed making The Pink Panther, he asked Edwards to direct. Edwards read the script and agreed to direct only on condition that he rewrite the script to include Inspector Clouseau, even though The Pink Panther had not even been released. The Mirisch Brothers agreed, and A Shot in the Dark was adapted by Blake Edwards and William Peter Blatty, who would later write The Exorcist. This film introduced the exaggerated French accent and popular characters Cato (known in this film as 'Kato') and Dreyfus.

Filming A Shot In The Dark caused considerable friction between Sellers and Edwards. By the end Sellers wanted the film to be unreleased, and both swore they would never work together again.

Sellers and Edwards went their separate ways; curiously in their common love of slapstick, both immediately went on to have custard-pie fights on camera15.

1968 - Inspector Clouseau

The Pink Panther and A Shot in the Dark were both smash hits and so the Mirsich Corporation were desperate for a third film. The problem was that Sellers and Edwards were not prepared to talk to each other. In 1964 Peter Sellers' had been Oscar-nominated for Best Actor in Dr Strangelove, while Blake Edwards struggled as The Great Race spiralled out of budgetary control and flopped. In late 1964 Peter Sellers was hired by Billy Wilder16 to appear in Kiss Me Stupid, but the two had multiple arguments and, as a result of this stress, Sellers suffered 13 consecutive heart-attacks, with his heart stopping on seven occasions. On his recovery, Peter Sellers gave a bitter interview in which he severely and scathingly criticised Hollywood, an interview which may have resulted in influencing the result of the 1965 Best Actor Oscar, which he did not win.

Through 1966 Peter 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 eventually decided to make a Pink Panther sequel with neither Sellers nor Edwards, asking actor Alan Arkin to star and hiring director Bud Yorkin. No other character or actor from the Pink Panther series would appear in that film, and it would be the first time that brothers Tom and Frank Waldman wrote a Pink Panther script. 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 received his approval. The Mirisch Corporation rejected his offer, filming went ahead, and 1968's Inspector Clouseau was a commercial and critical disaster.

Curiously, before Inspector Clouseau was released, Edwards and Sellers reconciled their differences and, with Henry Mancini, collaborated on making slapstick comedy The Party, where Peter Sellers' character is accident-prone, not unlike Clouseau. Unlike Inspector Clouseau, The Party was a success, however 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.

1975 - The Return of the Pink Panther

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, both Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers experienced difficult periods of their careers. Thirteen Peter Sellers films in a row had flopped, including the financial catastrophe Casino Royale and The Magic Christian, and three films were not even released. He began appearing in minor films, on television and even in adverts, desperate to keep his acting career afloat. Similarly Blake Edwards was experiencing a decline in his career after the spectacular failure of Darling Lili. United Artists, who now owned the Mirisch Corporation17, were uninterested in resurrecting the Pink Panther series, combining as it did two burned-out talents.

However Lew Grade remembered the Pink Panther fondly and his television company ITC Entertainment approached Blake Edwards, intending to make a 26-episode Pink Panther television series. Blake Edwards convinced Lew Grade to make a film instead. Lew Grade purchased the rights to the film himself by giving United Artists a percentage of the profits and short-term worldwide distribution rights, the rights to later revert back to ITC18.

This was to prove a highly perceptive move, as The Return of the Pink Panther became the second most successful film of 1975 worldwide, after Jaws. Following this success it was inevitable that United Artists would be keen to continue the series.

1976 - The Pink Panther Strikes Again

After this phenomenal success, United Artists quickly commissioned a sequel. The Waldman brothers had already had one in mind, which they had drafted when The Return of the Pink Panther project was going to be a television series.

This film is the Pink Panther series at its most creative. Herbert Lom as Dreyfus is allowed to get out of his office and roam free, becoming an excellent and entertaining villain. Even though Peter Sellers had a heart attack shortly after finishing The Return of the Pink Panther, after years of failure, Peter Sellers enthusiastically grasped his chance to be successful again. Scenes involving physical comedy on the part of Inspector Clouseau were performed by his stunt-double, Joe Donne. Sellers ad libbed and contributed idea after idea until the original version of the film was 124 minutes long. The film was cut down by over 20 minutes for its cinematic release, deleting entire sequences, such as Professor Balls' first appearance. Peter Sellers, disappointed by how many of these scenes were cut, once again fell out with Blake Edwards.

The Pink Panther Strikes Again is the first film with 'Pink Panther' in the title not to feature the diamond.

1978 - Revenge of the Pink Panther

The sixth and final film made during Peter Sellers' lifetime. The popularity of Strikes Again, which was even more popular than Return, made another sequel inevitable. The film ignores the events of The Pink Panther Strikes Again and Dreyfus is once again a Chief Inspector. This film gives Cato the most to do of any Pink Panther film and the plot works well, despite off-screen tensions between Peter Sellers and Blake Edwards.

By this time Peter Sellers had realised that in order to achieve the acting roles he desired most he would have to strike a balance between appearing in popular films, especially the Pink Panther series, and acting in more challenging and personal roles. Peter Sellers would follow this film with Being There, a personal project in which he used his Stanley Laurel dignity to play Chance the gardener, a role for which he was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, losing to Dustin Hoffman.

Romance of the Pink Panther - Unmade

Having fallen out with Blake Edwards and vowed again never to work with him, Peter Sellers decided he would have more of a creative role in the next Pink Panther film. He began co-writing the script with Jim Moloney and arranged for Sidney Poitier to direct, replacing Blake Edwards, who would still earn $3 million to allow the use of the character. The script was in development, with shooting unlikely to begin before early 1981. The basic idea was that Inspector Clouseau would fall in love with a countess who would later be revealed to be a jewel thief. There were even proposals that Inspector Clouseau might turn to a life of crime for love. However before the script was finalised, Peter Sellers died of a heart-attack on 24 July, 1980, a week before he was due to undergo heart surgery.

1982 - Trail of the Pink Panther

In 1981 MGM bought United Artists forming MGM/UA. The new company was keen to continue with United Artists' most profitable series which they now owned the rights to. They apparently contacted Dudley Moore asking him to play Inspector Clouseau in a film based on the script that Sellers had been working on at the time of his death. Dudley Moore refused unless Edwards, with whom he had worked on 10, was involved.

Blake Edwards was initially busy making his popular 1982 film Victor/Victoria19. He also believed that only Peter Sellers could play Inspector Clouseau. Under pressure from MGM/UA to make two films on a small budget, Blake Edwards came up with the idea of using deleted scenes from The Pink Panther Strikes Again as the basis for a new film, with new linking scenes.

These scenes were loosely tied together with a 'plot' in which the Pink Panther diamond is once again stolen, and Clouseau is asked to investigate, but does not arrive in Lugash. Following this, Joanna Lumley plays an investigative reporter who talks to various Pink Panther characters about Inspector Clouseau for a bit.

Essentially this is a clip show. For the most part, the scenes that had been deleted from The Pink Panther Strikes Again were not up to the standard of the rest of that film, and seeing them out of context in a vague attempt to make a different plot out of them fails to work. Although Blake Edwards dedicated the film 'To Peter Sellers, the one and only Inspector Clouseau', Sellers' widow sued MGM on the grounds that the film damaged Sellers' reputation. She attempted to bring out an injunction to prevent the film from being shown, but instead in 1985 was awarded almost one and a half million dollars in damages when the judges ruled that MGM had breached the 1958 Performers Protection Act.

1983 - Curse of the Pink Panther

At the same time as making Trail of the Pink Panther Blake Edwards made this film, named after the working title for Revenge of the Pink Panther. This was intended to reboot the series with a new incompetent detective, American Sergeant Clifton Sleigh, who was to be as accident prone as Inspector Clouseau.

Despite the presence of the Pink Panther's supporting cast, the film was a critical and financial failure. Blake Edwards claimed that this was because MGM did not properly advertise the film. In an example of far more drama being off-screen than on, Edwards sued MGM/UA for $180 million for 'wilfully sabotaging the film'. MGM/UA, arguing that as Trail had not been successful they did not throw good money after bad with an expensive advertising campaign, in response countersued Blake Edwards for $350 million, as Trail and Curse between them had gone over budget, as had Victor/Victoria, and therefore Edwards was guilty of fraud. In return Blake Edwards counter-countersued for $400 million, accusing MGM/UA of libel. In the end the lawsuit claims added up to almost $1.5billion, and were eventually settled out of court. This drama did delay the making of another Pink Panther film, and was far more intense, dramatic and silly than any Pink Panther film made since Peter Sellers had died.

1993 - Son of the Pink Panther

Despite the failure of the previous two Pink Panther films, Blake Edwards was still enthusiastic in continuing with the series, wishing to cast talented Oscar-nominated actor Gérard Depardieu. MGM/UA, however were not interested in making another. So in 1991 Blake Edwards sued MGM/UA for $25 million, stating that the studio not only were not using his Pink Panther character, but were preventing him from developing a Pink Panther film with another studio. This was settled out of court, with Blake Edwards given permission to make another Pink Panther film if he could find a company willing to finance it. Italian company Filmauro, founded by Luigi De Laurentiis20 and now run by his son Aurelio DeLaurentiis, were willing to pay $14million to finance the film, provided an Italian actor was cast in the lead.

Italian actor Roberto Benigni was cast as Jacques Gambrelli, the illegitimate son of Inspector Clouseau. Although very famous within Italy, he was not to find fame worldwide until Life Is Beautiful in 1997, for which he would win a Best Actor Oscar in 1999. Italian actress Claudia Cardinale replaced Elke Sommer as Maria Gambrelli. Appropriately enough, Blake Edwards' son Geoffrey Edwards was the second unit director and Blakes' daughter Jennifer Edwards played Yussa. The film was a commercial and critical failure, going straight to video in Britain, despite the ending being left open for a sequel. It was the last film involving both Blake Edwards and composer Henry Mancini.

Pink Panther on Stage

Despite the failure of the last three Pink Panther films he had made, Blake Edwards was keen to continue, planning on a stage musical adaptation of The Pink Panther, having successfully adapted Victor/Victoria for the stage. This would be loosely based on A Shot In The Dark. He was working on this project when he died on 16 December, 2010.

2006 & 2009 - The Pink Panther Remakes

'Peter Sellers has always been one of my idols... I guess he immortalised that role, and whoever played Inspector Clouseau was great.'
- Steve Martin, That's Panthertainment documentary, 1978

While Blake Edwards was working on the stage play, constant rumours that MGM would make a new Pink Panther film without him began circulating from 2000 onwards. Initial rumours speculated that this was to star Kevin Spacey and be titled Birth of the Pink Panther. In 2003 Mike Myers, riding on his Austin Powers success, was considered, with the aim of releasing the film in March 2004 for the 40th anniversary of The Pink Panther's release; however his fee of $20 million was deemed to be too expensive. Other rumours that Kevin Kline was being considered circulated. Finally in November 2003 Steve Martin was cast and the script finalised.

The film, titled simply The Pink Panther was released in 2006 and surpassed all expectations in being successful and the funniest Pink Panther film since the death of Peter Sellers. Although Steve Martin is not in Peter Sellers' league, and was heavily criticised by critics, it had been successful enough for MGM/UA to make a sequel, the imaginatively titled Pink Panther 2, released in 2009. This was again moderately successful, though not as successful as Steve Martin's first Pink Panther film, and heavily criticised by critics.

In 2010 MGM/UA filed for bankruptcy, and at time of writing it is no longer making films on its own, but co-financing with other film studios.

The Cartoon

And it's as plain as your nose
That he's the one and only truly original Panther pink from head to toes.

The Pink Panther character - a pink cartoon panther - was originally intended to appear only on posters advertising the first film. Edwards approached animation studio DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, run by experienced former Warner Brothers animators David DePatie and Friz Freleng21, to use it in the opening credits. This animated credits sequence was so popular with audiences that United Artists hired De-Patie-Frelang Enterprises to make a series of short animated films featuring the character. The first short, The Pink Phink, won the 1964 Best Animated Short Film Oscar. These cartoons featured Mancini's 'Pink Panther Theme' as the soundtrack.

124 short films were originally made, and in 1965 he was joined by The Inspector, loosely based on Inspector Clouseau, who first appeared in short film The Great DeGaulle Stone Operation with Mancini's A Shot In The Dark theme in the background. These films were later adapted for broadcast on television, with an Inspector cartoon often sandwiched between two Pink Panther cartoons. Episodes made for television followed, with other characters, including the Ant and Aardvark, introduced. The television series, called The Pink Panther Show originally ran from 1969 to 1980 with a few minor name changes. The Pink Panther later acquired a car, known as the Panthermobile, which in the opening credits would drive the Pink Panther and other cartoon characters to a cinema showing the cartoons he was appearing in. In the original run, the Pink Panther spoke on two occasions, voiced by Rich Little22, sounding like Sir Charles Lytton in The Pink Panther.

Between 1993 and 1995 a new series featuring the Pink Panther was made, controversially talking with an American accent.

Inspector Clouseau Dictionary

  • Bend Deuwn - Bend Down
  • Beum - A bomb
  • Beump - Bump, such as on the head
  • Cleue - A Clue
  • Fingair – A Finger
  • Leard - Lord
  • Leu - The Law
  • Massage - A Message
  • Minkey - A Monkey. Also meunkey.
  • Peek-a-beau - Peek-a-boo
  • Peup - The Pope
  • Pheun - Telephone
  • Rhuem - A room
  • Rit of fealous jage – A fit of jealous rage
  • Robed - Robbed
  • Soul-ved - Solved
  • Speaks - Talk. Clouseau often has speaks with people.
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

1In comparison, the longest-running comedy film series is the Carry On series, with 31 films made between 1958 and 1992.2Pope.3Called Kato in A Shot In The Dark.4It is possible to read more into the Cato/Clouseau relationship, especially considering how they spend so much of their time together wrestling. In Revenge of the Pink Panther Clouseau confirms that Cato resides in his apartment with him. However, whenever we see Clouseau thoroughly explore his flat's every nook and cranny we never see Cato's bedroom, only Clouseau's bedroom, which contains a double-bed. Why is it that, whenever Clouseau is about to become intimate with a woman, Cato attacks? Is it because of 'fealous jage'?5It is perhaps telling that, unlike Clouseau and Dreyfus, Cato does not appear in the recent Pink Panther remakes.6An American director famous for A Hard Day's Night, Help!, The Three Musketeers, The Four Musketeers, Superman II, Superman III and Return of the Musketeers.7Sellers would later release a single of his Olivier-inspired spoken take of the Beatles' song A Hard Day's Night which reached number 14 in 1965.8Perhaps most famous for directing 2001: A Space Odyssey, as well as A Clockwork Orange.9The Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion, SPECTRE was the foe against which James Bond battled in many early 1960s films.10A long-running British 'comedy' series (1973-2010), unique in that every episode is practically identical, involving a trio of old men walking aimlessly around Yorkshire for no apparent reason.11A film based on the 1890s character invented by EW Hornung – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's brother-in-law.12The oldest actor to win an Oscar, he is perhaps best known for his appearance in The Sound of Music.13A form of motor neurone disease.14A film famed for Dick van Dyke's mockney accent being far more inaccurate than Peter Sellers' exaggerated 'French' accent in the Pink Panther films.15Sellers in an excised scene in Dr Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Edwards in the conclusion of The Great Race.16Billy Wilder edited out Peter Sellers and recast him.17Walter Mirisch remained a producer for United Artists.18This is why this film is not contained within Pink Panther box sets.19A film with many similarities with the Pink Panther films. It co-stars Graham Stark and Peter Arne, who was in Return, Curse and Trail, and Herb Tanney, who was in Return, Strikes Again, Revenge, Curse and Son, plays a bumbling French detective/investigator. Like A Shot In The Dark, it is set in Paris and like Revenge, involves the principle character cross-dressing and being in disguise.20Brother of Agostino 'Dino' De Laurentiis, who produced over a hundred films, including Dune.21Friz Freleng had started animating with Disney in the 1920s before moving to Warner Brothers' Merry Melodies unit, where he worked on Porky Pig, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Sylvester and Tweety Pie, and even created Speedy Gonzalez and Yosemite Sam. In 1963 Merry Melodies dissolved, which is when he formed De-Patie-Freleng Enterprises, hiring some of his Warner Brothers colleagues.22Rich Little who would later dub for David Niven in Trail and Curse.

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