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That famous jewel, The Pink Panther, has once again been stolen and Inspector Clouseau is called in to catch the thief. The Inspector is convinced that 'The Phantom' has returned and utilises all of his resources - himself and his oriental manservant - to reveal the true identity of 'The Phantom'. Written by
Graeme Roy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Although it's already Peter Sellers' third outing in the series, "The Return of the Pink Panther" sets the tone for all of the Pink Panther movies still to come. Fast, furious, wacky, and hilarious.
In fact, this movie is, in many respects, the movie the first should have been. The plot once again revolves around the Pink Panther diamond. The chief suspect is once again Sir Charles "The Phantom" Lytton. And, of course, Peter Sellers is once again on the case as the one-of-a-kind Jacques Clouseau.
Class act David Niven has been replaced by the equally classy Christopher Plummer ("Murder by Decree", "The Sound of Music", "Dragnet"). His portrayal of Sir Charles is more dashing and youthful than Niven's. In this film, his character is also more likable, simply because he's working alongside Clouseau rather than against him.
And Inspector Clouseau, the underdog, is now, finally, the hero. He's been demoted to bumbling Parisian street cop by his slightly crooked boss, Chief Inspector Dreyfus (played hilariously for the second time by Herbert Lom.) Then the president of Lugash specifically requests Clouseau be restated in order to find the Pink Panther diamond, which has been stolen from a museum. The return of the Pink Panther diamond is Clouseau's responsibility.
The film is divided between Clouseau's quest to find Sir Charles, whom he blames for the Panther's disappearance, and Sir Charles' quest to find the Panther and by doing so clear his name. Clouseau's adventure is filled with more slapstick than in either of the previous two films, and good slapstick, at that. Peter Sellers plays Clouseau in the way that only he could, with results that are guaranteed to make any comedy fan laugh. Meanwhile, Sir Charles' side of the story is filled with action and international intrigue, in a plot that's absurd and confusing, but to be expected from a Pink Panther film. Graham Stark, who played Clouseau's partner in "A Shot in the Dark", now appears as Sir Charles' put-upon underworld informant.
All is finally right with the Pink Panther universe. Sir Charles is finally likable. It's okay to empathize towards Clouseau. And there's humor in the romantic cat-and-mouse game between Sir Charles' new bride and Clouseau. Lady Lytton is played by Catherine Schell ("On Her Majesty's Secret Service"), and is, interestingly enough, not the ex-Mrs. Clouseau, one of the earliest cracks in the series' fragile continuity. However, it's amusing to see Lady Lytton take advantage of Clouseau and those around her, whereas in the first movie it just seemed unfair when Clouseau's wife treated him the same way.
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