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As a tribute to my memory you open this Chinese Nookie Factory?

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.] Today’s Panther flick follows one of my favorites of the series so far (THE PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN) and isn’t as great, but I found it enjoyable. First of all, they kept the theme of “everyone’s trying to kill Clouseau” going from yesterday’s AMAD, but this time tried to set it in a kind of Godfather-spoof world, which was far less entertaining that the international assassins plot of the last.

In fact, the first 6 minutes of the movie is a gangster flick, with a young Robert Loggia being pimp as hell, no less, as we find Loggia going to deliver a warning to Robert Webber (who was in our very first AMAD, HARPER) that the Godfather doesn’t have faith that Webber has any power anymore. In a bid to prove that he can run drugs with the best of ‘em, Webber holds a conference with his guys and the suggestion is made to kill Clouseau, now heavily respected and honored by France’s president. What I dug about this sequence was seeing how the legend of Clouseau had spread. There are a couple gangsters that say they heard he has thrwarted 16 previous assassination attempts and that he’s almost super-human. Others say they hear he’s a bumbling fool, but who can believe that with his track record of success?

The difference here is that one of the assassination attempts works… kind of. Clouseau had a mix-up on the way to an ambush and ended up being robbed by an infamous transvestite thief who takes his car and clothes, leaving him standing on the side of the road in high-heels and dress. Of course, this poor bastard is brutally shot down and everybody believes Clouseau is dead. That’s the charm of this movie, even if it’s not completely successful. We see what the world would be like if Clouseau was killed. The biggest beneficiary is our favorite Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) who is cured of his insanity the second he hears the news. Even though it completely betrays any sort of continuity, I loved that they didn’t bother trying to explain the ending of the last one where Dreyfus was essentially disappeared out of existence. He’s back in the asylum and is a new man now that Clouseau (he thinks) is gone.

In fact, he’s brought in to investigate Clouseau’s murder, completely reinstated in a publicity move by the French powers that be, a sort of public wrap-up of their feud. He admits to his psychiatrist that he feels only joy and elation, no guilt, over Clouseau’s “death” and is warned that point of view only invites guilt to sneak up on him, essentially that he’ll be haunted by Clouseau, which, obviously, opens the door for some awesome gags down the line. Lom is still the man. Dreyfus is my favorite character in these films, hands down. My absolute favorite scene in this movie is when Lom is forced to give a eulogy at Clouseau’s “funeral” and he has to read all these amazing testimonials to the man he hates so much. When he sputters through it, almost gagging at the words, everybody thinks he’s being overcome with emotion. God, what an awesome funny moment… The film is very smart, playing with the conventions of the franchise, but a little like RETURN there just seemed to be a lack of fire in the storytelling and Sellers’ performance. Both were better than adequate, but you know what I’m talking about, that tangible feeling when everything is just working and everybody’s pumped. Another benefit to this one is more Cato. When you see what he’s done to Clouseau’s apartment in the maybe 2 days he’s disappeared after supposedly dying you’ll lose your shit. I did, at least. And then he ends up actually being Clouseau’s sidekick as they travel to the events in the final act, in Hong Kong, where racial stereotypes are thrown out fast and furious. Dyan Cannon plays the love interest in the movie, Webber’s ex-secretary and mistress who joins up with Clouseau to bring her old boss/lover down. I never really got her sex appeal, but from a performance stand-point, she does a good job with a rather uninteresting character. Final Thoughts: A lesser entry to the series, but Herbert Lom Herbert Lom Herbert Lom. I wouldn’t say the series has lost its way, but you can clearly tell the comedy isn’t coming as naturally as it was in yesterday’s STRIKES AGAIN and the first two brilliant entries. The last bit with Clouseau and the pigeon on his head is pretty damn great, though. Same goes for his Swedish Seaman with an inflatable parrot. There just needed to be better villains than random Italian gangsters and more Lom!

The schedule for the next 7 days is: 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) Sunday, September 21st: INDISCRETION OF AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE/TERMINAL STATION (1954) Tomorrow’s the last of our Blake Edwards/Peter Sellers Clouseau movies, even though today’s was the last one Sellers was alive to film. Tomorrow’s movie apparently places unused takes and footage from previous Panther movies to hang the plot around, but I’m interested in it if only to see David Niven’s return to the franchise. I have a feeling it’ll be a trainwreck, but hopefully an interesting one. -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
September 13th: The Pink Panther Strikes Again

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