DVD Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)

    David Niven as SIR CHARLES LYTTON
    Peter Sellers as INSP. JACQUES CLOUSEAU
    Robert Wagner as GEORGE LYTTON
    Capucine as SIMONE CLOUSEAU
    Claudia Cardinale as PRINCESS DALA

    Not Rated
    Studio: MGM

    Directed by: Blake Edwards

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Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Peter Sellers) is called in to spend a weekend on the ski slopes of Cortina to uncover the identity of the legendary jewel thief known as The Phantom (David Niven). While on the fake vacation with his wife Simone (Capucine), Clouseau suspects Sir Charles Lytton as the thief, and he works to catch him before the Phantom steals the invaluable and infamous Pink Panther diamond.

On the whole, I’m not a big fan of the films from the 1960s. They escape me somehow, being that I was a child of the 80s. I don’t know why I just don’t get them, but they often go above my head (or below my feet, or simply swerve around me). Still, I definitely appreciated the first outing of Inspector Clouseau.

In this incarnation, Clouseau hadn’t yet blossomed into the fully bumbling detective we remember from the latter “Pink Panther” films of the 1970s. However, it is fun to look back and see how Peter Sellers completely stole the film from its bankable star, David Niven. I chuckle at the irony that it was Sellers as Clouseau who stole the Pink Panther from the Phantom himself.

The slapstick is still there in this film, but it is shared with other performers like a shockingly young Robert Wagner. This film isn’t exactly the regular diet of “Pink Panther” material. Rather, it’s somewhere between the later Clouseau films and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Still, it’s a fine piece of nostalgia and fun to revisit in the wake of the new “Pink Panther” films.

As I said earlier, I’m not a big fan of the films of the 60s. Much of my criticisms are of the style and delivery of these films: Long master shots, out-of-place song-and-dance numbers, David Niven as a sex symbol. These are things I just have trouble swallowing given my taste for modern movies.

But that’s just me, your typical movie fanboy in his 30s. Go figure.

In addition to an audio commentary by writer/director Blake Edwards, this Collector’s Edition of the 1963 “Pink Panther” film include several featurettes on the making of the movie: “The Pink Panther Story,” “Behind the Feline: The Cartoon Phenomenon,” “Robert Wagner: The Coolest Cat in Cortina,” “Diamonds: Beyond the Sparkle” and “The Tip-Toe Life of a Cat Burglar.”

Of special interest are three featurettes. The first is “Behind the Feline,” which tells the story of how the opening credit sequence inspired a wash of animated shorts. The “Diamonds” featurette gives some insight into the jewelry world and why these large stones are so rare. Finally, the “Cat Burglar” featurette gives us an interesting look at a real-life cat burglar.

Anyone who likes classic Peter Sellers and classic Clouseau, or at least wants to see where he came from.

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