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Saturday, August 14, 2010

A SHOT IN THE DARK (1964)

When Peter Sellers threatened to walk on the movie version of this hit B’way comedy, Blake Edwards was brought in to helm & to ‘fix things up.’ But Edwards did more than a quick polish, he and co-scripter William Peter Blatty (of EXORCIST fame!) co-opted Inspector Clouseau from the not yet released PINK PANTHER and did a total rewrite. (BTW, there’s no Pink Panther in here, not even the famous theme music.) Some comic genie must have been hovering about because, except for a bit of forced ‘60s groovy humor in a nudist colony (which kids love, anyway), the film is shriekingly funny. Edwards opens with a tour-de-force sequence of barely missed run-ins and continues to shoot perfectly timed slapstick, often played out in challenging master-shots. And it’s all physically beautiful to look at thanks to Christopher Challis’s lensing. (Standard commercial Hollywood comedies in the ‘60s & ‘70s generally were painfully ugly, as if lit with banks of fluorescent light.) The whole supporting cast turn into deadpan comedy experts with two unlikely, but priceless comic turns from George Sanders & Herbert Lom with a twitch in his eye.

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