A Movie A Day: Quint on (some of) THE RETURN OF THE PINK PANTHER (1975)
Published at: Sept. 13, 2008, 2:51 a.m. CST by quint
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…