Written by / 4/05/2013 / No comments / , , , , , , ,

PETER SELLERS STARRING IN 'THE PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN'

year: 1976 cast: Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom, Burt Kwouk rating: **1/2
There’s a pivotal sequence where Herbert Lom’s eye-twitching Inspector Dreyfus – having just broke out of an insane asylum – helps a nefarious villain escape from a train by use of a helicopter, followed by several more breakouts and a kidnapping. It seems writer/director Blake Edwards got an itch to make something beyond a slapstick comedy, but Peter Sellers, as the new Chief Inspector Clouseau, won’t let that happen... at least not entirely.

While the main villain means business – Dreyfus will use a “Doomsday Machine” to pulverize New York City landmarks, beginning with the U.N., if he’s not given Clouseau in exchange – our bumbling hero fights his determined Asian sparring partner Kato, visits a gay bar and wreaks havoc in any location he finds himself snooping around in. Thus the most intriguing aspect of STRIKES AGAIN, the second Sellers/Edwards Panther film to follow A SHOT IN THE DARK over a decade earlier, is how the comedy merges with the action – and vice versa.

Clouseau takes one more swipe on Kato
Perhaps Blake Edwards was competing against the popular Roger Moore/James Bond films where villains hijack supersized weapons...

Or maybe he wanted to add some of  his former PETER GUNN espionage to the comedic proceedings....

Sometimes the beloved French klutz gets lost in the mix and the slapstick isn’t always funny – many scenes stretched to the nerve’s limit – but within this hit/miss venture are great looking sets including a formidable castle where our antagonist resides.

Briony McRoberts as Margo, with her father and captor, facing Dreyfus
Die hard PANTHER fans may desire less stunt work and more of the subtle stuff – like accidentally placing a hand on a moving globe – that distinguishes Peter Sellers from all other physical comedy actors. But the main problem with STRIKES is Clouseau himself.

In the other films he’s a grouchy, stubborn and completely oblivious working-class Inspector covering up his clumsy antics until eventually (accidentally) succeeding. But here he’s contentedly optimistic and somewhat dazed, relying too much on goofy costumes rather than handling the humor on his own. After the world domination plot is set in place, Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau sleepwalks through a seemingly abandoned storyline... Maybe he should never have gotten that promotion in the first place.
Briony McRoberts as Margo Fassbender
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