Premiere - 04/01/2004
"[A] gem of madcap mayhem..."
The first in Blake Edwards's series of enormously successful Pink Panther films, it introduced Peter Sellers in the role of epic bumbler Inspector Jacques Clouseau. Ultrasuave jewel thief Sir Charles Lytton (David Niven), aka the Phantom, is in hot pursuit of the Pink Panther, one of the world's most precious jewels, now in the possession of Princess Dala (Claudia Cardinale). Clouseau, a detective who has raised bungling incompetence to an art form, is in hot pursuit of Sir Charles, who has successfully eluded him for the past 15 years. He also seeks the Phantom's female accomplice, little realizing that she's actually his own wife, Simone (Capucine), who naturally prefers to sleep with the dashing thief. To complicate matters, Lytton's nephew George (Robert Wagner) arrives on the scene, dismaying his uncle with his desire to follow in his footsteps. When, during a costume party at the princess's Roman villa, the safe containing the Pink Panther is opened, it contains only a white glove--the signature of the Phantom. Sellers, playing a character part with relatively little screen time, stole the film so completely that he went on to star in the series' subsequent installments. The marriage of his comic brilliance with Edwards's mastery of farce made THE PINK PANTHER a huge worldwide hit. The suavely amusing pink cartoon panther featured in the opening and closing credits went on to became the star of his own cartoon show.
Peter Sellers introduces Inspector Clouseau, a role he repeated in many sequels. Here the bungling French policeman is assigned to catch a jewel thief known as the Phantom. Academy Award Nominations: Best (Original) Score (Henry Mancini).