The Pink Panther

I remember going to Fig’s with my dad as a child, when they were still on main street. We used to wander the dusty aisles of videotapes and pick out an assortment of movies, taking advantage of the x movies for x days for x dollars deal. Little did I know then that I would find myself briefly working for Figs, during one of the stranger periods of my life.

At any rate, my father at one point picked up The Pink Panther, because he remembered it being rather entertaining. I was instantly hooked on the series, and found myself watching the Pink Panther movies all the time with my father. The one and only time I have peed my pants outside of diapers is as a result of a scene in one of the Pink Panther movies.

For people who don’t know about the Pink Panther movies, or are thinking of the travesty of cinema released with Steve Martin, let me briefly acquaint you with them.

Although 10 films have been released with the Pink Panther branding, only five can be truly called Pink Panther movies. They feature Peter Sellers as the bumbling Inspector Clouseau, and are directed by Blake Edwards. They also have a distinctive score, written by Harry Mancini. My father used to play the theme from the Pink Panther on his alto sax as a warmup. At any rate, all of the movies involve Clouseau wreaking havoc while managing to solve a crime. He is, of course, surrounded by devastatingly attactive women the whole time, including his wife, who later turns out to be a jewel thief.

Numerous attempts to capitalize on the Pink Panther name have led to a motley assortment of terrible films without Sellers…don’t bother with them.

Recently I felt a nostalgia for the Pink Panther movies, and decided to see if I could track them down. It proved to be not much of a challenge, since I’m not the only one who apparently has fond memories of them. The only trouble I really had was finding all of the official Pink Panther movies and their proper order…after figuring that out, I could order them.

As I write, I am watching The Pink Panther, the first film in the series. It introduces the Pink Panther diamond, which plays an integral role in the series, and has a brief animated short with the Pink Panther character. Apparently he appeared in a bunch of animated shorts which have been collected somewhere…I’d love to track them down.

A Shot in the Dark is the second Pink Panther movie, and it introduces Inspector Dreyfus, who becomes Clouseau’s nemesis. It’s the only Pink Panther without the Pink Panther in the title or the panther character in the credits. Some people think it’s the finest Pink Panther film…I wouldn’t try to make such a distinction, myself. Cato also appears for the first time in this movie.

The third is Return of the Pink Panther, another romp through jewel thievery and slapstick comedy taking place on an international scale. The Phantom returns, and Dreyfus goes insane.

The Pink Panther Strikes Again documents Dreyfus’ slip into total insanity. He kidnaps a mad scientist and threatens to blow up the world unless Clouseau is killed. Naturally, Clouseau survives numerous attempts on his life and manages to take a girl home to boot.

The final Pink Panther is Revenge of the Pink Panther, includes the French Connection, a trip to Hong Kong, and an attempt by Cato to turn Clouseau’s house into a Chinese bordello. Good times for all, and it may be my favourite.

I’m quite excited about getting to watch all the Pink Panthers again. So far, they’ve been every bit as fabulous as I remember…too few things from childhood are like that. And I still want a pet Pink Panther. Maybe I’ll dye Mr. Bell pink.

[Pink Panther]