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A Movie A Day: Quint on (some of) THE RETURN OF THE PINK PANTHER (1975)

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day. [For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.] So what’s this bullshit about only “some of” THE RETURN OF THE PINK PANTHER is going to be discussed in today’s AMAD? Am I too good for this movie? Did it suck so bad that I couldn’t finish it? Am I starting to get lazy and/or burnt out and I just couldn’t stand one more fucking movie a day? Nope, nope, nope. There’s a scratch in my DVD and my laptop won’t let me get past the 55 minute mark. Sure, I could skip ahead… After trying to clean it (with my glass solution and lens wipes) it skipped again, getting stuck just as Clouseau follows Sir Charles’ wife to a hotel and has a discussion with Victor Spinetti (Duke d’Escargot from previous AMAD Start the Revolution Without Me and also from The Beatles’ HELP), a recognizable British actor playing a snooty bell hop. So I skipped ahead to the next chapter after reinserting the disc, then rewound till it started jumping. The next scene, with Sir Charles, this time played not by David Niven, but by Christopher Plummer, uses a fake passport to get through an airport, seemed to go smoothely. But just when I was relaxing again, the image froze and I was left screaming at my computer. I can go further ahead, but why skip 10 minutes from the middle of the movie? I’ll try the disk again when I get home from LA on Sunday. It’s scratched pretty badly (which sucks, because I took it straight out of the plastic-wrapped Focus Features DVD and put it on my CD case for this trip, so that must mean something happened to it in the case or something in my laptop sucks and hates DVDs now), but my home player is much less picky and might play through it. I can discuss the first half of the movie and when I get home, Sunday evening, I’ll try to watch the rest of it. If it plays I’ll update this story with quote, etc. If it doesn’t, I’ll throw in the second half of the review on a future AMAD after I order another copy.

I can say I won’t be pleased at buying this one twice. I’m pretty sure of that. It’s not a bad movie so far, but it feels a lot less personal to both Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers. The spark is gone from Clouseau’s eyes and his timing seems to be a little off, maybe a tad forced. It’s also bizarre to see the series jump from a ‘60s aesthetic to a ‘70s one, where Clouseau doesn’t feel as at home. All that said, I’m still glad to be back in this world. Herbert Lom has already tried to shoot Clouseau repeatedly before blowing his own nose off (poor ol’ Dreyfus) which makes me happy. And even half-there Peter Sellers is funnier than most. And the flick does open with a sweet heist as a mystery man dressed in black uses a crossbow, rope a little metal pincers to steal the Pink Panther diamond which is now in the possession of a museum. This opening really got me nostalgic for TOPKAPI and GAMBIT, great ‘60s heist flicks. Of course, the thief leaves the infamous white glove, embroidered with a P, the trademark of The Phantom, which was Niven’s character from THE PINK PANTHER.

Niven didn’t reprise his role as Sir Charles, the Phantom, but instead we get Christopher Plummer, who lacks some of Niven’s English Gentleman charm, but brings a little more threatening edge. However, he isn’t the one who stole the diamond. And he finds it curious and a little annoying, after having promised his squeeze (not Clouseau’s wife from THE PINK PANTHER, strangely enough) to go straight. He’s bored, but he won’t go back on his word, however he does see some excitement in using his unique skill set to hunt down the imposter and takes off just before Clouseau shows up on his doorstep. Sir Charles’ wife, played by Catherine Schell, recognizes him immediately through his telephone operator disguise and plays around with him as he obliterates Sir Charles’ library in every slapstick way you can imagine, eventually staging a phone call that he overhears about her leaving for some Switzerland hotel. Clouseau follows her to that hotel and… that’s as far as I got. The Cato fight was spoiled for me in one of the previous talkbacks, but was still very fun, if like the rest of the first half of the movie it was a little half-hearted and off. Hopefully I’ll be back with a closing to this review by Sunday night, but if the disc is fucked I’ll copy and paste this whole thing with my final thoughts on the second half on a future AMAD. I just didn’t want to miss a day, even if the technology gods are doing their best to make me cry like a little girl at the moment. As a side note, I spent tonight at the live recording of Real Time With Bill Maher and had a blast. I got a front row seat, thanks to a hook-up and an early arrival… Maher’s opening monologue and his satellite interview was awesome, I could have stood up and touched him with a half-step. Cameras and monitors blocked a lot of the panel, but it was still sweet. It’s a great time. I highly recommend any Real Time fan try to get tickets if you find yourself out in LA. Tomorrow we have THE PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN. Hopefully the MGM disc will be far superior to the Focus disc and we won’t have any more troubles…

The schedule for the next 7 days is: Saturday, September 13th: THE PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN (1976) Sunday, September 14th: REVENGE OF THE PINK PANTHER (1978) Monday, September 15th: THE TRAIL OF THE PINK PANTHER (1982) Tuesday, September 16th: THE REAL GLORY (1939) Wednesday, September 17th: THE WINNING OF BARBARA WORTH (1926) Thursday, September 18th: THE COWBOY AND THE LADY (1938) Friday, September 19th: DAKOTA (1945) As we draw closer and closer to October my horror-lust grows, but we have a nice few weeks of palate cleansing ahead of us, with John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Sellers, Niven, gangsters, noir and war movies all on the docket. Keep a look out! -Quint

Previous Movies: June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast a Giant Shadow
July 23rd: Out of the Past
July 24th: The Big Steal
July 25th: Where Danger Lives
July 26th: Crossfire
July 27th: Ricco, The Mean Machine
July 28th: In Harm’s Way
July 29th: Firecreek
July 30th: The Cheyenne Social Club
July 31st: The Man Who Knew Too Much
August 1st: The Spirit of St. Louis
August 2nd: Von Ryan’s Express
August 3rd: Can-Can
August 4th: Desperate Characters
August 5th: The Possession of Joel Delaney
August 6th: Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx
August 7th: Start the Revolution Without Me
August 8th: Hell Is A City
August 9th: The Pied Piper
August 10th: Partners
August 11th: Barry Lyndon
August 12th: The Skull
August 13th: The Hellfire Club
August 14th: Blood of the Vampire
August 15th: Terror of the Tongs
August 16th: Pirates of Blood River
August 17th: The Devil-Ship Pirates
August 18th: Jess Franco’s Count Dracula
August 19th: Dracula A.D. 1972
August 20th: The Stranglers of Bombay
August 21st: Man, Woman & Child
August 22nd: The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane
August 23rd: The Young Philadelphians
August 24th: The Rack
August 25th: Until They Sail
August 26th: Somebody Up There Likes Me
August 27th: The Set-Up
August 28th: The Devil & Daniel Webster
August 29th: Cat People
August 30th: The Curse of the Cat People
August 31st: The 7th Victim
September 1st: The Ghost Ship
September 2nd: Isle of the Dead
September 3rd: Bedlam
September 4th: Black Sabbath
September 5th: Black Sunday
September 6th: Twitch of the Death Nerve
September 7th: Tragic Ceremony
September 8th: Lisa & The Devil
September 9th: Baron Blood
September 10th: A Shot In The Dark
September 11th: The Pink Panther

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