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Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Pink Panther (1964)

A gentleman thief (David Niven) known as "The Phantom" has committed a series of incredible robberies for years while the bumbling Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers) has been unable to capture and unmask him. Little does Clouseau know that his wife (Capucine) is The Phantom's mistress. Meanwhile, The Phantom sets his eyes on the fabulous "Pink Panther" diamond owned by a Middle Eastern princess (Claudia Cardinale). The passing of the great Blake Edwards today had me seeking out his classic stylish and sparkling farce. It's filled to the brim with clever sight gags and witty puns anchored by an inspired comedic tour de force by Peter Sellers. Niven does this sort of thing effortlessly but who knew Capucine's forte was deadpan comedy? It's difficult to choose the film's comedic highlight since there are so many of them but surely the Feydeau-ish bedroom set-piece with doors slamming, hiding under beds etc. remains an example of perfect farce. Capucine and Cardinale are elegantly dressed by Yves St. Laurent while Henry Mancini's score is both amusing, romantic and melodic. The snowy Italian landscapes have never looked so inviting. With Robert Wagner, Brenda De Banzie and Fran Jeffries.

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