The Return of the Pink Panther

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The Return of the Pink Panther
The Return of the Pink Panther poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Blake Edwards
Produced by Blake Edwards
Written by Frank Waldman
Blake Edwards
Starring Peter Sellers
Christopher Plummer
Herbert Lom
Catherine Schell
Music by Henry Mancini
Cinematography Geoffrey Unsworth
Edited by Tom Priestly
Jewel Productions
Pimlico Productions
Distributed by United Artists
Release date(s)
  • 21 May 1975 (1975-05-21)
Running time 114 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $5 million
Box office $41,833,347[1]

The Return of the Pink Panther is the fourth film in The Pink Panther series, released in 1975. The film stars Peter Sellers in the role of Inspector Clouseau, returning to the part for the first time since A Shot in the Dark (1964) after having declined to reprise the role in Inspector Clouseau (1968). The film was a commercial hit and revived a previously dormant series.

Herbert Lom reprises his role as Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus from A Shot in the Dark; he remained a regular hereafter. The character of Sir Charles Lytton, the notorious Phantom, is now played by Christopher Plummer rather than David Niven (as in The Pink Panther, 1963), who was unavailable. The Pink Panther diamond once again plays a central role in the plot.


In the fictional country of Lugash, a mysterious thief breaks into the National Museum, sneaks past its elaborate security system, and makes off with the fabled Pink Panther diamond, leaving a white monogrammed glove with a gold-tinted "P" as a calling card. The Lugash Secret Police are brought in to investigate, and the Shah of Lugash requests the assistance of Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers). Clouseau has been temporarily demoted to beat cop by his boss, Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus (Herbert Lom), who despises Clouseau to the point of obsession. There are talks about him being reinstated as Inspector of the Sûreté, much to Dreyfus' chagrin, but after an incident during a bank robbery, Dreyfus suspends him for six months. However, the French government forces Dreyfus to reinstate Clouseau so that he can go to Lugash to investigate the theft of the Pink Panther.

Clouseau's investigations at the Lugash National Museum, which he nearly destroys, lead him to believe that Sir Charles Lytton (Christopher Plummer), the notorious Phantom, is re-creating the most famous heist of his career. Clouseau is delighted at this, and sees his chance to get revenge on Lytton for framing him and temporarily sending him to prison in the first film. Sir Charles, having read about the theft, realizes that he has been framed. He goes to Lugash to investigate and clear his name. Although Clouseau fails to uncover any leads concerning the theft, his bumbling allows him to survive several attempts on his life by a mysterious assassin. After staking out (and nearly demolishing) Lytton Manor in Nice, Clouseau is tricked into leaving France. He follows Sir Charles' wife, Lady Claudine (Catherine Schell) to a resort hotel in Gstaad, Switzerland, where his attempts to investigate her repeatedly fail.

Meanwhile, Sir Charles discovers the identity of the true thief - his wife, Lady Claudine. Because they were both bored with their quiet retirement, she stole the diamond for her own excitement, and sent her husband on a wild goose chase for his. Sir Charles makes a daring escape from Lugash and goes to Gstaad, where he finds his wife and the diamond.

Inspector Clouseau, who has unknowingly been on the trail of the real thief all along, receives a telephone call from Chief Inspector Dreyfus telling him to arrest Lady Claudine. However, when Clouseau calls Dreyfus back to ask why, he is informed that Dreyfus has gone on vacation and will not be back until the following week. Dreyfus, now revealed as the assassin trying to kill Clouseau, prepares to shoot him with a sniper rifle as soon as he enters Lady Claudine's room.

Lady Claudine playfully confesses the theft to her husband, and hands the diamond over to him, so he can go about proving his innocence. They are cornered by Colonel Sharki (Peter Arne) of the Lugash Secret Police, who intends to kill them both. It turns out he has been using the theft of the diamond as an excuse to purge his political opponents. Clouseau barges into the room to arrest the Lyttons. Sir Charles points out that Colonel Sharki is going to kill them all. Suddenly, Dreyfus opens fire on the room, and accidentally kills Sharki while aiming at Clouseau, who ducks at the last minute to check his fly. The Lyttons escape during the fray, and return to Lytton Manor without further incident.

For his work in recovering the Pink Panther, Clouseau is promoted to Chief Inspector and vows to bring Sir Charles to justice; Sir Charles, for his part, recently has resumed the Phantom's career as a jewel thief. (Lady Claudine is not mentioned in retrospect, but she is presumably enjoying her slightly-less-quiet-than-before life, if not sharing her husband's criminal identity.) The Lyttons, however, are the least of Clouseau's worries; while enjoying lunch in a Japanese restaurant, he receives a fortune cookie which reads, "Beware of Japanese waitress bearing fortune cookies." It turns out to be Cato in drag, who attacks Clouseau then and there. A full-scale barroom brawl erupts; the customers flee as the restaurant is laid to waste. Clouseau bombards Cato with a thorough tongue-lashing, mostly so he can catch his loyal manservant off-guard with a flying kick. Being Clouseau, he misses and instead destroys the restaurant's kitchen.

Dreyfus is committed to a lunatic asylum; there he is straitjacketed and placed inside a padded cell, vowing revenge on Clouseau as the animated Pink Panther enters the room - dressed as a stereotypical Hollywood motion picture director.

As the credits roll, Dreyfus watches and comments on the words, particularly when Peter Sellers' credit comes up as "Inspector Clouseau"; Dreyfus then breaks the fourth wall by saying "KILL HIM!" to the audience. The Pink Panther can be seen setting up his movie camera; he films Dreyfus writing "The End" on the wall with his foot. After that, as the screen irises out, the Pink Panther appears in the irise with his signature cigarette-pipe in his mouth...and blows a smoke ring.


You can rest assured that there's trouble, because Inspector Clouseau is on the case. (That's the trouble.)


Production notes[edit]

In the early 1970s, Blake Edwards wrote a 15-20 page outline for another Pink Panther film and presented it to series producer Walter Mirisch. The producer loved the idea, but the franchise's main backer, United Artists, rejected the film as they had no intention to work with Edwards nor Peter Sellers, whose careers had declined.[2]

Then British producer Lew Grade agreed to finance two films for Blake Edwards as part of a deal to get Julie Andrews to make a TV show for him. The first movie was The Tamarind Seed. Edwards wanted to make a project set in Canada called Rachel and the Stranger but Grade disliked the idea and offered to buy Edwards out of the second commitment. Edwards wanted to make a second movie however in order to help restore his reputation in Hollywood. Grade says he then suggested making a Pink Panther film and Edwards agreed if Sellers would agree to do it. Grade talked Sellers into it and the project was on.[3] UA agreed to give The Return of the Pink Panther to Grade in exchange for world distribution and a share of the profits.[2] Grade says that Eric Pleskow of United Artists was offered the chance to come into the movie as a partner but declined, thinking the movie was a disaster; he only wanted UA to distribute.[3]

Richard Williams, later the creator of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, did the animated open and closing titles for this picture and The Pink Panther Strikes Again, due to DePatie-Freleng's work on the Pink Panther shorts and other cartoon projects for TV and film. Williams got help animating this from two animation legends, Ken Harris and Art Babbitt.

Catherine Schell can be seen laughing on at least two occasions in the film - once when Clouseau impersonates a telephone repairman to infiltrate her home, and again when he meets her in a restaurant and pretends to be "Guy Gadbois", a ladies' man; in the latter, the scene appears to cut suddenly as she starts choking on her drink from laughing. This magnifies the impression that Lady Lytton sees Clouseau as "cute" rather than as a real threat. These scenes are frequently proferred as classic examples of corpsing, and it was not uncharacteristic of Sellers to goad his fellow actors to break character, but Schell has maintained in various interviews that she always considered it in character for Lady Lytton to be amused at Clouseau's antics.

Carol Cleveland, best known for her regular appearances on Monty Python's Flying Circus, has a small part as a swimming pool diver.


  1. ^ "The Return of the Pink Panther, Box Office Information". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 22, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Mirisch, Walter (2008). I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History (pp. 170-171). University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, Wisconsin. ISBN 0-299-22640-9.
  3. ^ a b Lew Grade, Still Dancing: My Story, William Collins & Sons 1987 p 227-228

External links[edit]