Monday, April 29, 2013

Movie Review: The Pink Panther (1963)

Stars: 1 out of 5
Pros: One really good laugh very late in the movie
Cons: The other 2 hours
The Bottom Line:
Comedy? One laugh
Instead it just plods along
Until finally ends

This Movie Spawned a Franchise and a Remake...How?

When the remake of The Pink Panther came out a couple years back, there were the predictable comments about how stupid it was compared to the original.  Considering I enjoyed the remake, I figured that was a clue I'd love the original.  Nothing could have been further from the truth.

The Phantom is a notorious cat burglar who robs jewels from the rich.  He's become the passion of Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers), a bumbling detective in Paris.  He's the foremost expert on the man.

Which is why Clouseau takes a trip to a Swiss ski resort when Princess Dala (Claudia Cardinale) does.  The princess is the current owner of the renown Pink Panther Diamond, a jewel sure to be a target for The Phantom.

When Clouseau and his wife (Capucine) arrive at the resort, they meet Sir Charles Lytton (David Niven) and his nephew George (Robert Wagner).  But what Clouseau doesn't know is that plans to steal the diamond are already in motion.  Can he figure out what they are and who the villains truly are?

So, this movie is supposed to be part comedy and part caper.  And it works on neither level.

As a comedy, this movie provided me with one laugh and two chuckles.  One scene had the potential to be funny, but was too drawn out.  The other funny scene provided the funniest bits, but it came too late in the movie for me.  And Clouseau's mishaps were so short lived they hardly registered.

Then there's the caper plot.  It might have been interesting if it had gone somewhere.  It started out fine, but then it stalled about 45 minutes into the film.  I mean, nothing happened to advance the story.  Heck, there was a musical number, that left me wondering why it was there.  Things did pick up again in the last 30 minutes or so, but by then I didn't care.  Surely they could have found something to cut out of the 2 hour film to improve the pacing.

And I can't forget the ending.  Aside from the questions it left in my mind, it wasn't clever and it wasn't funny.  It was just plain stupid.

Speaking of stupid, the only thing I could think during the entire movie is, if The Phantom normally operates out of Rome, why is a police officer from Paris investigating him in Switzerland?  They never did explain this or why Clouseau is the officer in charge during the climax set in Rome.

Now I am not blaming the actors for their portrayals.  Everyone did a good job with what they were given.  I believed all the characters at all times.  Especially fun was a very young Robert Wagner.

I am glad I only wasted my time on this dud.  But I am left shaking my head how The Pink Panther has become the beloved classic it is.  Quite obviously, its charms were lost on me.

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