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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.] Now this is what I’m talking about. I can’t pass full judgment on THE RETURN OF THE PINK PANTHER until I see the full flick (thanks Scratchy McScratchalot DVD), but the first half showed me a movie where Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers were struggling to find the right tone and pace, rusty after years of being away from the universe of Inspector Clouseau. They still came up with some funny stuff, particularly in the Cato fight scene, but something was just off and I felt it as a viewer. It’s like Sellers wasn’t fully invested. But not with THE PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN. It’s like THE RETURN OF THE PINK PANTHER was their warm up and when Sellers and Edwards followed it up they knew what kind of movie to do and were firing on all cylinders. Of course, Herbert Lom was my favorite surprise of the series and they had the brilliant idea to involve him a ton more here.

We open in an insanitorium where Dreyfus is meeting with his psychiatrist and convincing him that his furious hatred of Clouseau is now under control and he’s ready to be released into the world again. The psychiatrist tries to psych him out, but Lom just laughs him off. He’s cured. A time is set for Lom to go before a committee, but that’s just a formality before he’s released. Lom takes a nice stroll around the grounds and guess who pops up. After sending Dreyfus into a pond a few times, Clouseau and he have a chat. Clouseau is now holding down Dreyfus’ old job and Dreyfus has some trouble with it, but he struggles to keep his composure. Afterall, Clouseau is there to speak on his behalf, which is what really sets Dreyfus off when he finds out, seeing his freedom now in jeopardy by the man he hates the most in this world. Of course, by the end of the opening, Dreyfus is once again raging and trying to kill Clouseau, his freedom now taken from him. Then we get what is probably my favorite so far of the Pink Panther animated credits sequences set to Henry Mancini’s awesome music. I loved this sequence because a great majority of it is set in a movie theater as the cartoon Clouseau watches various film clips of The Pink Panther in different movies. We get Frankenpanther, Singin’ In The Rain Panther, Buster Keaton Panther… for a movie geek, it was definitely the most fun opening (and we get a Jaws reference in the closing credits!). And to my great surprise the next scene opens with Lom, now escaped from the asylum, shadowing Clouseau, trying to kill him. What a brilliant idea for a Pink Panther movie. Seriously, it’s a great way to break the formula of the previous movies. Clouseau bumbles his way into discovering this thief or uncovering that mystery. Not here. Here it’s Clouseau bumbling his way into avoiding death at every turn, stalked by a crazy man. Lom’s first attempt at assassination is being stringed up in the apartment underneath Clouseau’s as he returns home and suspects Cato is waiting in ambush. He karate-stances his way though the apartment, making a mess of things, of course, but there’s no Cato. When Cato does jump out of his hiding place it is my absolute favorite Cato fight. Nunchakus comes out of nowhere, the men creep around the apartment, barely missing each other and when they fight it’s hilarious. The slow motion screams of fury as Clouseau jump kicks and misses is so ridiculously over-dramatic and goes on for so long that I was rolling.

Then when Dreyfus falls in the apartment below them they do the same effect and I was crying. They do sound humor! While still upstairs we hear the muffled version of the slow-motion screaming as Dreyfus falls below Clouseau and Cato. Brilliant. Dreyfus ultimately decides it’s foolish trying to kill Clouseau himself and ends up masterminding a team of robbers and killers to do the job for him. He also hedges his bet by kidnapping a scientist and his daughter to build him a doomsday machine that can disintegrate anything and he makes an announcement to the world that he will use it on a large city if Clouseau isn’t killed. Suddenly Clouseau is being hunted by the world’s best assassins, each country hoping to be the one who kills him so they can get control of the awesome power of the Doomsday Machine. Of course that leads to one of the best sequences of any of the Panther films as these assassins converge on Clouseau at an Oktoberfest in Germany, taking out each other and failing miserably at getting Clouseau. One of the assassins is noneother than Deep Roy, who was all the Oompa Loompas in the Tim Burton Wonka remake.

Leslie-Anne Down, of all people also makes an appearance as a Russian hit-woman who falls in love with Clouseau… the reasons for her love are hilarious, but I won’t spoil it. Of the series so far, this film and the original two are great examples of how this series works. And maybe the end of RETURN makes up for what I felt was a lackluster and a little hollow beginning, but I can’t say until I can see the whole thing. STRIKES AGAIN goes into some ridiculous-ass territory. The Doomsday Machine is straight out of the Batman TV show as a ridiculously unreal weapon or threat and Lom is a cartoon character, but goddamnit if you can’t tell that everybody’s have a good time here. And the parallel bars moment with Clouseau is one of the hands down funniest slapstick moments of the entire series. Final Thoughts: A pleasant upswing from the downward trend of (the first half) RETURN OF THE PINK PANTHER. Everybody’s enjoying themselves again and it pays off. It might cross that line and go a little too ridiculous, but if you’re at all like me you’re enjoying yourself too much to care. Seller’s hunchback disguise is awesome and Herbert Lom is my goddamn hero. Tomorrow takes us to our second to last PANTHER flick, REVENGE OF THE PINK PANTHER. Looking forward to seeing the series out, even if I am a little nervous about TRAIL…

The schedule for the next 7 days is: 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) Saturday, September 20th: RED RIVER (1948) -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
September 12th: The Return of the Pink Panther

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