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PETER SELLERS IN 'THE RETURN OF THE PINK PANTHER'

year: 1975 cast: Peter Sellers, Christopher Plummer, Herbert Lom, Peter Arne rating: ***1/2
Sir Charles Litton in the original 1964 classic THE PINK PANTHER was a sophisticated womanizing jewel thief played by David Niven, who, along with his nephew and girlfriend, kept one step ahead of Inspector Jacques Clouseau. Skip ten years: Litton has morphed into a younger, cagier, more stealthily and adventurous fortune hunting maverick played by Christopher Plummer, lifting the priceless Pink Panther jewell from a supposedly theft-proof museum in an exciting prologue involving a nail-biting getaway: Well that’s the set-up for Litton, but where’s Clouseau?

Thankfully when the French Inspector does show up he’s just like the character from the original films: frustrated, bitter and oblivious to his shortcomings instead of the endearing mascot he'd become in the last two ventures, STRIKES AGAIN and REVENGE: It seems that writer/director Blake Edwards knew the template of the jewel thief handing off scenes with the bumbling Inspector worked to compliment both polar opposites: Plummer’s cool yet energetic Litton is like a crooked James Bond, literally fighting his way out of painted corners in well choreographed action sequences, and Clouseau has more importance because of him.
Peter Sellers wooing Catherine Schell
Clouseau's scenes, wearing various costumes, going from one location to the next, are initially amusing but often drag too long. With Sellers, less is often more: one flawless moment where he eyes a woman diving into a pool, and tips slowly into the water, has been shown on every PANTHER montage, epitomizing Sellers' style. And while Herbert Lom's angry Dreyfus is on board his role is sporadic.

The only major drawback is Catherine Schell as Litton’s trophy wife, who seems more amused/entertained by Peter Sellers himself than Clouseau. But overall this is a worthy RETURN to a classic character… it’s just a shame he took a whole decade off between adventures.
Christopher Plummer makes a more deceptive Sir Charles Litton
One of the best opening intro cartoon sequences
BUY RETURN OF THE PINK PANTHER
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