The Pink Panther (1963)

Part screw-ball comedy, part mystery, part con-movie, partly pink—"The Pink Panther" is a movie that works incredibly well because of three people—Peter Sellers, Henry Mancini, and Blake Edwards. Most of the film succeeds because of Henry Mancini's unbelievable catchy and jazzy score, which punctuates the entirety of the film. Peter Sellers is remarkable here because, for appearing as little as he does on screen, he makes Jacques Clouseau a name that is remembered. But Blake Edwards is the man who should probably be credited the most for how good "The Pink Panther" is.
Beginning with the introduction of the title object, which turns out to be a priceless diamond with a small flaw that looks like a panther, we get the main titles. I am convinced that these main titles are the best that I've ever seen...though the credits for "Skyfall" run a pretty close second. I know it sounds weird, but the beginning of the movie is almost worth seeing just for the main titles...nerd, yes, I know.
The movie begins with the acknowledgement of a cat burglar, perhaps the best in the world. Known only as The Phantom, this man (or woman) was nearly captured once by Inspector Clouseau and one of the first scenes of the movie has the figure making a narrow escape from the law. He leaves a white glove with an embroidered "P" on it as his form of calling card, much to the annoyance of his victims.
The jewels that are stolen from a safe are then channeled through multiple hands and often fall into the police's lap; but quick minds evade them and the jewels are safely transported through the correct, criminal avenues.
At a venue in Europe, a wealthy princess is supposed to attend a party and in her care is the pink panther. Clouseau and his cohorts agree that The Phantom will most likely try to steal from her and if not from her, from some nobility at the festivities. Trying to take as many preventative measures as possible, Clouseau decides to pay a visit to the party.
Sir Charles Lytton (David Niven) seems to be up to something. An infamous ladies man, he has taken it upon himself to get closer to Princess Dahla (Claudia Cardinale) who is known commonly as "The Virgin Queen".
It's clear from moment one that Charles is involved with the jewel-stealing business; but what makes the movie enjoyable is watching how easily he gets away with it. Clouseau is no Poirot figure, in fact he seems like a spoof of the fictional, unassuming detective. Clouseau is just an idiot, but a likable one at that. He, in Chaplin fashion, is oblivious to all that is around him. He doesn't realize that he wife is cheating on him (with Sir Charles, one might add) or that The Phantom is living right under his nose the entire time.
Most of the film works, like slapstick moments or very thinly concealed sexual innuendoes; but some moments are just awkward. Princess Dahla getting drunk is funny, her romantic saga is not...nor is if interesting.
Yet this is a movie that you should see for the score and for Peter Sellers and, yes, for those main titles.
"The Pink Panther" is perfectly entertaining.

Score: ★★★

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