The Pink Panther Strikes Again

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The Pink Panther Strikes Again
Pink panther strikes again movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Blake Edwards
Produced by Blake Edwards
Tony Adams (Associate Producer)
Screenplay by Frank Waldman
Blake Edwards
Starring Peter Sellers
Herbert Lom
Lesley-Anne Down
Burt Kwouk
Leonard Rossiter
Music by Henry Mancini
Cinematography Harry Waxman
Edited by Alan Jones
Distributed by United Artists
Release date(s)
  • 15 December 1976 (1976-12-15) (US)
  • 22 December 1976 (1976-12-22) (UK)
Running time 103 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $6 million
Box office $33,833,201[1]

The Pink Panther Strikes Again is the fifth film in The Pink Panther series and picks up where The Return of the Pink Panther leaves off. Released in 1976, Strikes Again is the third entry to include the words "Pink Panther" in its title, despite the fact the story does not involve the Pink Panther diamond.

Unused footage from the film was later included in Trail of the Pink Panther.

Plot[edit]

At a psychiatric hospital, former Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) is largely recovered from the murderous insanity that saw him repeatedly attempt to kill the thorn in his side, Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Peter Sellers). He is about to be released but Clouseau, who is now Chief Inspector and has arrived to speak on Dreyfus' behalf, comes to visit, and his clumsiness drives Dreyfus insane again.

Dreyfus escapes from the asylum, intent on killing Clouseau. His first attempt involves planting a bomb while Clouseau destructively duels with his manservant Cato (Burt Kwouk), who is under orders, from Clouseau, to keep Clouseau alert by randomly attacking him. The bomb merely destroys Clouseau's apartment whilst Clouseau himself is unharmed, largely because Clouseau has been distracted by an inflatable costume and a telephone call by Dreyfus which was meant to keep him in place for the bombing. Cato, however, ends up in the hospital.

Dreyfus sets his sights higher. Using his knowledge of the underworld, he enlists the help of an army of vicious criminals, kidnaps nuclear physicist Professor Hugo Fassbender (Richard Vernon) and the Professor's daughter Margo (Briony McRoberts), forcing the professor to build a "doomsday weapon" in return for his daughter's freedom. As Hugo Fassbender cannot bear to hear his daughter undergoing Dreyfus's torture (which consists of forcing her to listen to nails dragged across a blackboard), he agrees.

Clouseau travels to England to investigate Fassbender's disappearance, with typically chaotic results, as Scotland Yard Section Director Alec Drummond (Colin Blakely) and Superintendent Quinlan (Leonard Rossiter) painfully learn. However, Clouseau manages to set his sights on Jarvis, the cross-dressing butler of the Fassbenders, and while Jarvis is killed by the kidnappers, to whom he had become a dangerous witness, Clouseau follows a clue found on the crime scene to the Oktoberfest in Germany. Meanwhile Dreyfus broadcasts himself to the world to announce his ultimatum. Disintegrating the United Nations headquarters in New York City before the disbelieving eyes of the world, he blackmails the leaders of the world, including the President of the United States (a thinly veiled impersonation of Gerald Ford, advised by a similarly poorly camouflaged Henry Kissinger), into assassinating Clouseau.

Forced to take Dreyfus's threat seriously, several nations send assassins to kill Clouseau at the Oktoberfest. Many of the nations, however, instruct their assassins to kill other assassins if necessary in order to ensure that their own country can kill Clouseau and thus win Dreyfus's favor and possibly get hold of the Doomsday Machine themselves. This, combined with Clouseau's typical bumbling fashion, enables Clouseau to evade each assassination attempt just as it is about to happen, so that the assassins all kill each other instead. In the end, only the operatives of Egypt and Russia remain alive.

The Egyptian assassin (an uncredited cameo by Omar Sharif), sneaking into Clouseau's hotel room, shoots a man he believes to be Clouseau (who is in fact one of Dreyfus's henchmen, who had taken it upon himself to kill Clouseau). The Russian operative, Olga Bariosova (Lesley-Anne Down), who has sneaked into Clouseau's room, seduces the Egyptian, similarly mistaking him for Clouseau. His passionate sexuality convinces her not to assassinate him; when the real Clouseau makes an appearance, he is surprised to discover a beautiful yet nude woman in his bed who confuses him further by declaring her undying passion for him, snogging him all over his face every few minutes in the process, and by finding a dead man in his bath. A tattoo on the dead man, combined with Olga's dismissively revealed knowledge, reveals to Clouseau Dreyfus's location at a castle in Bavaria. He leaves immediately leaving a confused and frustrated Olga behind him.

Dreyfus is elated at Clouseau's apparent demise, but his joy is soured by a bad case of toothache. Clouseau, who has arrived in the village near Dreyfus's castle but has been denied entry into the castle by a mischievous drawbridge, eventually infiltrates Dreyfus's castle hideout disguised as a dentist, intoxicates Dreyfus (and himself) with nitrous oxide, and pulls one of Dreyfus's healthy teeth. Realising the deception, Dreyfus orders Clouseau killed, but Clouseau escapes.

Enraged, Dreyfus means to seek vengeance on the world by destroying England; as he prepares for this, Clouseau, who has been thrown into the castle's barnyard, is literally catapulted onto Dreyfus's doomsday machine. Clouseau's weight redirects the disintegrator so that the beam hits Dreyfus (causing him to start to disintegrate, from the feet up) and the castle. As Dreyfus's henchmen, Fassbender, and his daughter, and eventually Clouseau himself escape the dissolving castle, Dreyfus plays "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" on the castle's pipe organ, while gradually disintegrating. The castle then disappears entirely, taking Dreyfus with it.

Returning to Paris, Clouseau is reunited with Olga, who has dismissed Cato for the evening and intends on completing her seduction of Clouseau. This is interrupted first by Clouseau's apparent inability to remove his clothes without a struggle, and then by Cato, who chooses this time to once more follow his orders and attack Clouseau and Olga. The consequent struggle ends when all three are hurled by a reclining bed into the Seine. Immediately thereafter, a cartoon image of Clouseau emerges from the water, which has been tinted pink, and begins swimming, unaware that a gigantic version of the Pink Panther character is waiting below him with a sharp-toothed, open mouth (a reference to the film Jaws made obvious by the thematic music). The film ends when the animated Clouseau gets chased by the shark in the water (which was actually the pink panther) as the credits roll.

Cast[edit]

Cast notes[edit]

  • Owing to Peter Sellers's heart condition, whenever possible he would have his stunt double Joe Dunne stand in for him. Because of the often physical nature of the comedy, this would occur quite frequently.
  • Julie Andrews provided the singing voice for the female-impersonator "Ainsley Jarvis".[2] The scene in the night club when Jarvis sings are in many ways similar to scenes in Edwards's later film Victor Victoria (1982), in which Andrews plays a woman pretending to be a man who is a female impersonator.
  • Graham Stark, longtime friend of Sellers, once again makes an appearance in the series, albeit in a small cameo role as the owner of a small German motel. Since his role as Hercule LaJoy in A Shot in the Dark, he has since appeared in small roles in every Pink Panther sequel except Inspector Clouseau, in which Sellers did not play Clouseau.
  • Omar Sharif appears, uncredited, as the Egyptian assassin.
  • Tom Jones sang the Oscar-nominated song "Come To Me".
  • The role of Olga Bariosova was originally played by Maud Adams who was replaced after filming a few scenes. Blake Edwards then intended to cast Nicola Pagett after seeing her in Upstairs, Downstairs but instead ended up casting Pagett's fellow TV star Lesley-Anne Down in the role.
  • Blake Edwards made a cameo appearance in the background of the night club scene.

Production[edit]

The Pink Panther Strikes Again was rushed into production owing to the success of The Return of the Pink Panther.[3] Blake Edwards had used one of two scripts that he and Frank Waldman had written for a proposed "Pink Panther" TV series as the basis for that film, and he used the other as the starting point for Strikes Again. As a result, it is the only Pink Panther movie which has a storyline that explicitly follows on from the previous film.

The film was in production from December 1975 to September 1976, with filming taking place from February to June 1976.[4] The relationship between Sellers and Blake Edwards, never very good, had seriously deteriorated by the time Strikes Again was filmed. Sellers was physically in bad shape, and Edwards says of the actor's mental state: "If you went to an asylum and you described the first inmate you saw, that's what Peter had become. He was certifiable."[3]

The original cut of the film ran for 124 minutes, but it was trimmed down to 103 minutes for theatrical release.[citation needed] Some of the footage was later used in Trail of the Pink Panther. Strikes Again was marketed with the tagline Why are the world's chief assassins after Inspector Clouseau? Why not? Everybody else is. Like its predecessor and subsequent sequel, the film was considered a box office success.

During the film's title sequence, there are references to television's Alfred Hitchcock Presents and the films Batman, King Kong, The Sound of Music (which starred Blake Edwards's wife, Julie Andrews), Dracula AD 1972, Singin' in the Rain, Steamboat Bill Jr., and Sweet Charity, putting the Pink Panther character and the animated persona of Inspector Clouseau into recognizable events from said movies. There is also a reference to Jaws in the end-credits sequence. The scene in which Clouseau impersonates a dentist and the use of laughing gas and pulling the wrong tooth are clearly inspired by Bob Hope in The Paleface (1948).[5]

Richard Williams (later of Roger Rabbit fame) supervised the animation of the opening and closing sequences for the second and final time; original animators DePatie-Freleng Enterprises would return on the next film, but with decidedly Williamesque influences.

Sellers was never happy with the final version of the film and publicly criticized Blake Edwards for mis-using his talents. The strain in their relationships is noted in the next Pink Panther movie's opening credits ("Revenge Of The Pink Panther") listing it as a "Sellers-Edwards" production.

Despite being apparently killed off (after committing major crimes), Inspector Dreyfus returned in Revenge of the Pink Panther, once again a policeman.

The Goscinny controversy[edit]

René Goscinny, a French comic book and movie writer (most known for the Asterix series), at one point was trying to sue Blake Edwards for plagiarism. The movie had strong similarities to Goscinny's script titled "Le Maître du Monde" (The Master of the World). Goscinny, who was a big Pink Panther fan, in fact sent the script to Peter Sellers in 1975 asking if he was interested in playing the main part, but got no response. The lawsuit was filed, but because of Goscinny's death in 1977 it was cancelled.[6]

Awards[edit]

American Film Institute Lists

References[edit]

External links[edit]