The Pink Panther
The Pink Panther is a series of comedy-mystery films featuring an inept French police detective, Inspector Jacques Clouseau. The series began with the release of The Pink Panther (1963). The role of Clouseau was originated by, and is most closely associated with, Peter Sellers. Most of the films were directed and co-written by Blake Edwards, with theme music composed by Henry Mancini. Elements and characters inspired by the films were adapted into other media, including books, comic books and animated series.
In the films, the Pink Panther is a large and valuable pink diamond which is first shown in the opening film in the series. The diamond is called the "Pink Panther" because the flaw at its centre, when viewed closely, is said to resemble a leaping pink panther. The phrase reappears in the title of the fourth film The Return of the Pink Panther, in which the theft of the diamond is again the centre of the plot. The phrase was used for all the subsequent films in the series, even when the jewel did not figure in the plot. It ultimately appeared in six of the eleven films.
The first film in the series had an animated opening sequence, created by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises and set to the theme music by Mancini, which featured the Pink Panther character. This character, designed by Hawley Pratt and Friz Freleng, was subsequently the subject of his own series of animated cartoons which gained its highest profile when aired on Saturday mornings as The Pink Panther Show. The character would be featured in the opening of every film in the movie series except A Shot in the Dark and Inspector Clouseau.
|The Pink Panther||1963||Blake Edwards||Peter Sellers||Although the film was centred on David Niven, Peter Sellers was so popular that the resulting series would be built on Clouseau rather than the Phantom/Sir Charles Lytton.||N/A||$10,878,107|
|A Shot in the Dark||1964||Blake Edwards||Peter Sellers||Released less than a year after The Pink Panther. Clouseau returns to bumble his way through a murder investigation. This also marks the first appearance of both Herbert Lom's Charles Dreyfus and Burt Kwouk's Cato.||N/A||$12,368,234|
|Inspector Clouseau||1968||Bud Yorkin||Alan Arkin||This film stars Alan Arkin as Clouseau, and does not have any other recurring characters (Dreyfus, Cato, the Phantom, etc.) from the rest of the series. Although it was produced by the Mirisch Corporation, Peter Sellers, Blake Edwards, and Henry Mancini were not involved in the making of this film.||N/A||N/A|
|The Return of the Pink Panther||1975||Blake Edwards||Peter Sellers||This not only marks the return of the famous "Pink Panther" diamond but also that of Peter Sellers as Clouseau, along with Edwards, Mancini, Dreyfus and Cato. Sir Charles Lytton is portrayed by Christopher Plummer.||$5 million||$41,833,347|
|The Pink Panther Strikes Again||1976||Blake Edwards||Peter Sellers||Dreyfus' insanity reaches a pinnacle, as he tries to intimidate the rest of the world into killing Clouseau.||$6 million||$33,833,201|
|Revenge of the Pink Panther||1978||Blake Edwards||Peter Sellers||This film pits Clouseau against the French Connection. It is the last in which Sellers played Clouseau. He died two years after its release.||$12 million||$49,579,259|
|Trail of the Pink Panther||1982||Blake Edwards||Peter Sellers, stand-ins||Features Peter Sellers as Clouseau using unused material from Strikes Again as well as scenes from previously released Pink Panther films. This was intended as a tribute to Sellers, but after its release Sellers' widow Lynne Frederick successfully sued Edwards and the studio for tarnishing her late husband's memory. David Niven and Capucine reprise their original roles. This film was a critical and commercial failure.||$6 million||$9,056,073|
|Curse of the Pink Panther||1983||Blake Edwards||Roger Moore||Inspector Clouseau and the Pink Panther diamond, both of which had gone missing in Trail, are pursued by a bungling American detective, Sgt. Clifton Sleigh (Ted Wass). Clouseau returns, after having plastic surgery to disguise his identity, in a cameo played by Roger Moore (who is credited as Turk Thrust II). Although intended to spawn a new series of misadventures for Sergeant Sleigh, the film's dismal box-office performance and critical drubbing led to a decade-long hiatus of the series.||$11 million (estim.)||$3,374,312|
|Son of the Pink Panther||1993||Blake Edwards||Roberto Benigni||Blake Edwards tried to revive the series by casting Roberto Benigni as Gendarme Jacques Gambrelli, Inspector Clouseau's illegitimate son by Maria Gambrelli, the murder suspect from A Shot in the Dark. Once again, many former Panther co-stars return – Herbert Lom, Burt Kwouk, and Graham Stark, and a star of the original 1963 film, Claudia Cardinale. Although intended to relaunch the series with a new lovable bungling hero, Son became the final installment in the original series.||$28 million||$2,438,031|
|The Pink Panther||2006||Shawn Levy||Steve Martin||This reboot launches a new series starring Steve Martin as Inspector Clouseau and Kevin Kline as Chief Inspector Dreyfus. Not a remake of the original film, it forms a new starting point for a contemporary series, introducing the Clouseau and Dreyfus characters along with the famous diamond to a new generation.||$80 million||$158,851,357|
|The Pink Panther 2||2009||Harald Zwart||Steve Martin||The sequel to Steve Martin's 2006 film. Martin reprises his role, but John Cleese replaces Kevin Kline as Chief Inspector Dreyfus.||$70 million||$75,946,615|
Although there are two later Pink Panther films starring Steve Martin, most of the films in the series starred Sellers as Inspector Clouseau and were directed and co-written by Blake Edwards. The jazz-based theme music was composed by Henry Mancini. In addition to the credits sequences, the theme often accompanies any suspenseful sequence in the first film and in subsequent films using the character.
The "Pink Panther" of the title is a diamond supposedly containing a flaw which forms the image of a "leaping panther" which can be seen if held up to light in a certain way. This is explained in the beginning of the first film, and the camera zooms in on the diamond to reveal the blurry flaw, which focuses into the Panther (though not actually leaping) to start the opening credits sequence. (This is also done in Return.) The plot of the first film is based on the theft of this diamond. The diamond reappears in several later films in the series, The Return of the Pink Panther, Trail of the Pink Panther, and Curse of the Pink Panther. It also appears in the revival of the Inspector Clouseau character in the much later Steve Martin films The Pink Panther (2006), and its sequel The Pink Panther 2 (2009). The name "the Pink Panther" became attached to Inspector Clouseau in much the same way that Frankenstein has been used in film titles to refer to Dr. Frankenstein's creation, or The Thin Man was used in a series of detective films.
A Shot in the Dark, a film which was not originally intended to feature Clouseau, is the first of two films in the series (the other being Inspector Clouseau) that features neither the diamond nor the distinctive animated Pink Panther in the opening credits and ending. Many critics, including Leonard Maltin, regard this film as the best in the series.
In the original film, released in 1963, the main focus was on David Niven's role as Sir Charles Litton, the infamous jewel thief nicknamed "the Phantom," and his plan to steal the Pink Panther. Inspector Clouseau was only a secondary character as Litton's incompetent antagonist and provided slapstick comic relief to a film that was otherwise a subtle, lighthearted crime drama, a somewhat jarring contrast of styles which is typical of Edwards's films. The popularity of Clouseau caused him to become the main character in subsequent Pink Panther films, which were more straightforward slapstick comedies.
Mancini's theme, with variations in arrangement, is used at the start of all but the first two of the subsequent films. Mancini's other themes for the first film include an Italian-language set-piece called "Meglio stasera," whose purpose seems primarily to introduce young actress Fran Jeffries. Portions of an instrumental version also appear in the film's musical score several times. Other segments include "Shades of Sennett," a "honky-tonk" piano number introducing the film's climactic chase scene through the streets of Rome. Most of the remaining tracks on the soundtrack album are early 1960s orchestral jazz pieces, matching the style of the era. Although variations of the main theme would reprise for many of the Pink Panther series entries, as well as the cartoon series, Mancini composed different theme music for A Shot in the Dark; this was later adopted by the animated spin-off series, The Inspector.
The first five Sellers–Edwards films were originally released by United Artists. Trail, Curse, and Son were released by MGM/UA. Previous DVD rights to The Return of the Pink Panther were controlled by Artisan and Universal Pictures's Focus Features division respectively, in partnership with British production company ITC Entertainment and successor-in-interest ITV Global Entertainment Ltd. Artisan issued this film on DVD for Region 1 on July 20, 1999 and then by Focus Features on January 10th, 2006. As of 2015, MGM had acquired total ownership to "Return" in the US after acquiring the remaining rights from ITV, although ITV still controlled UK distribution, with Universal handling video rights.
ITC originally intended to make an Inspector Clouseau television series, but Blake Edwards convinced the production company to back a feature film first and a series later, if the film should prove successful. The film exceeded expectations by becoming the most profitable film of 1975. UA quickly bought out ITC's investment, and work immediately started on the next feature film.
Although official, the live-action film Inspector Clouseau (1968) is generally not considered by fans to be part of the series canon, since it involved neither Sellers nor Edwards. Some elements of Arkin's performance and costuming, however, were retained when Peter Sellers resumed the role for Return in 1975. Despite speculation, Alan Arkin does not appear in Trail of the Pink Panther.
The film that launched the second Pink Panther series, The Pink Panther, starring Martin as Clouseau, directed by Shawn Levy and produced by Robert Simonds, was released in February of 2006 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and was co-produced with Columbia Pictures. It is set in the present day and introduces different main characters, therefore belonging to a different continuity. Martin also stars in the sequel, The Pink Panther 2, released in 2009.
|The Pink Panther||January 7, 1964||90%||$10,878,107|
|A Shot in the Dark||June 23, 1964||93%||$12,368,234|
|Inspector Clouseau||July 19, 1968||N/A||N/A|
|The Return of the Pink Panther||May 21, 1975||88%||$41,833,347|
|The Pink Panther Strikes Again||December 15, 1976||83%||$33,833,201|
|Revenge of the Pink Panther||July 19, 1978||82%||$49,579,269|
|Trail of the Pink Panther||December 17, 1982||25%||$9,056,073|
|Curse of the Pink Panther||August 12, 1983||29%||$4,491,986|
|Son of the Pink Panther||August 27, 1993||16%||$2,438,031|
|The Pink Panther||February 10, 2006||22%||$158,851,357|
|The Pink Panther 2||February 6, 2009||12%||$75,936,494|
Homages and references to the films
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- In a 1978 episode of the anime series Lupin the Third, titled "Black Panther" (American-dub title "My Birthday Pursuit"), Lupin attempts to steal the Black Panther diamond as a birthday gift for his girlfriend. Inspector Zenigata is aided by a clearly Clouseau-inspired character, Inspector Conaiseau. Conaiseau is even assisted by a Cato-inspired character, Hageito. Also within the episode, Lupin and Conaiseau both infiltrate a nudist colony, much like Clouseau does in A Shot in the Dark.
- The Simpsons: in the season five episode "Homer the Vigilante" (1994), when the Springfield Cat Burglar burgles the Simpsons's house, the background music resembles the Pink Panther theme, and he steals the world's largest cubic zirconia from a museum, much like the Phantom stealing the Pink Panther diamond. When he is captured he turns out to be a suave, David Niven-like character. In another season five episode, "The Boy Who Knew Too Much," when it was revealed the waiter's injuries were self-inflicted due to his clumsiness and not a result of Freddie Quimby assaulting him, the waiter proclaims "This is an outrage! I am not a clumsy Clouseau-esque waiter!" before tripping over a chair and falling out of the window into an open-roof truck filled with rat traps. In the 1998 episode "This Little Wiggy," an announcer on Chief Wiggum's television is heard saying, "We now return to The Return of the Pink Panther Returns, starring Ken Wahl as Inspector Clouseau." (Wahl had actually retired from acting by that time.)
- Cato appears in the 1999 movie Inspector Gadget during the Minions Anonymous meeting.
- In a 2000 episode of the animated series Jackie Chan Adventures, titled "Enter the Viper", Jackie Chan and his niece Jade must protect the "Pink Puma" diamond from a female jewel thief called Viper.
- In The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004) great homage is paid to the character of Clouseau in scenes played by Geoffrey Rush, and also the story covers Sellers's relationship with Blake Edwards, notably where Sellers describes his relationship with Edwards via Clouseau dressed as the Swedish sailor from Revenge of the Pink Panther.
- In the 2005 Family Guy episode Breaking Out Is Hard to Do, there is a chase scene through Asiantown which is a parody of the original chase scene near the end of Revenge of the Pink Panther, using the same music.
- In the Taiwanese series Hi My Sweetheart (2009), the Pink Panther is an essential point in the series ambient, and appearing a lot of times in the form of plushes or several other items. Also the male protagonist takes the name of "Da lung" in reference to the Pink Panther song.
- In the 2012 30 Rock episode "Standards and Practices," Jack (Alec Baldwin) hires a man named Kato to attack him at random. As with Inspector Clouseau, these attacks take place in his apartment.
- In the 2016 movie Why Him?, Ned Fleming (Bryan Cranston) observes that Laird Mayhew (James Franco) (millionaire boyfriend to his daughter) and Laird's best friend and butler, Gustav (Keegan-Michael Key) engage in random attack/defense interactions that are reminiscent of Inspector Closeau/Cato surprise attacks to keep him alert. Neither Laird nor Gustav are aware of the Pink Panther reference.
On March 31, 2014, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer announced plans to develop a new live-action/animated Pink Panther film, which it said would be directed by David Silverman and produced by Walter Mirisch and Julie Andrews (who, in addition to her career accomplishments, is Blake Edwards' widow). This film would not focus on Inspector Clouseau, but it will instead focus on the actual Pink Panther cartoon character. As of 2017, the film was still in development.
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The opening title sequence of the original 1963 The Pink Panther film was such a success with the United Artists executives that they decided to adapt the title sequence into a series of theatrical animated shorts. DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, run by former Warner Bros. Cartoons creators David H. DePatie and Isadore "Friz" Freleng, produced the opening sequences, with Freleng as director. United Artists commissioned a long series of The Pink Panther shorts, the first of which, 1964's The Pink Phink, won the 1964 Academy Award for Animated Short Film. This was the first (and to date only) time a studio's first work won an Oscar.
By the autumn of 1969, the shorts were being broadcast on NBC during Saturday mornings on The Pink Panther Show; after 1969, new shorts were produced for both television broadcast and theatrical release. A number of sister series also joined the Pink Panther character on movie screens and on the airwaves, including The Inspector, featuring a comical French police officer based on the Jacques Clouseau character.
The animated Pink Panther character has also appeared in computer and console video games, as well as advertising campaigns for several companies, most notably for Owens Corning Fiberglass insulation. There was also a short-lived animated series called Pink Panther and Pals (2010) which is aimed at younger children. In 2014, MGM announced (see above) that it was planning an animation / live-action hybrid film reboot of the franchise, to be directed by David Silverman and produced by Walter Mirisch and Julie Andrews.
The animated Pink Panther character also appeared in a short animated segment on the educational TV series Sesame Street, demonstrating his karate skills to carve the letter K out of a block of stone, only for it to crumble quickly afterwards.
- "Pink Panthers," which was the name given by Interpol to a group of Montenegrin thieves who successfully executed several jewel heists starting in 1993.
- The Pink Panthers, a name used for several different LGBT rights organizations in North America since the 1970s.
- "Blu-ray Forum - View Single Post - The Pink Panther Film Collection (1963-1982) - June 27, 2017".
- "Blu-ray Forum - View Single Post - The Pink Panther Film Collection (1963-1982) - June 27, 2017".
- "MGM To Make New Live-Action/CG ‘Pink Panther’ Movie". deadline.com.
- Elysa Gardner (March 2, 2015). "Julie Andrews, 79, finds new favorite things". USA TODAY. Retrieved March 13, 2015.
- "The Pink Phink." www.bcdb.com, April 13, 2013.
- "The Pink Panther Show." www.bcdb.com, April 14, 2014.
- George Wales (2 April 2014). "Pink Panther getting animated reboot". Total Film. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
- Koch, Dave (April 14, 2014). "Pink Turns 50! Let’s Celebrate!". Big Cartoon News. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
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