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Thursday, May 29, 2008

THE RETURN OF THE PINK PANTHER (1975)

Peter Sellers & scripter/helmer Blake Edwards reestablished their commercial chops, after a decade of flops (deserved and ‘un’) on separate projects with this good-natured Inspector Clouseau vehicle. At its best in some throwaway comic bits and in Edwards’ crystal-clear action/slapstick sequences (who handles physical comedy as well or as elegantly in WideScreen format?), it lacks the formal design & swank of the original and the nutty consistency of the first sequel, A SHOT IN THE DARK/’64. Still, in this third outing, the slow merging of straight suspense elements with physical gags (it all climaxes with a botched assassination attempt a la Fred Zinnemann’s DAY OF THE JACKAL/’73) played well enough to please millions and revive the franchise. Now, it looks a bit pokey. But there’s plenty of fun to be had, starting with Christopher Plummer’s alarming hairstyling; Catherine Schell cracking up as Sellers blathers on; and that most unexpected of master comedians, Herbert Lom, stealing all his scenes with a twitch.

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