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The Pink Panther (1963) - Plot Summary Poster

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Summaries

  • The trademark of The Phantom, a renowned jewel thief, is a glove left at the scene of the crime. Inspector Clouseau, an expert on The Phantom's exploits, feels sure that he knows where The Phantom will strike next and leaves Paris for Switzerland, where the famous Lugashi jewel 'The Pink Panther' is going to be. However, he does not know who The Phantom really is, or for that matter who anyone else really is...

  • A French detective, Inspector Clouseau, is obsessed with the capture of a glamourous jewel thief known only as "The Phantom". A lead takes Clouseau to Switzerland and to Sir Charles, a rich English playboy. During the course of his investigations the most unexpected of persons becomes a strong suspect.

  • The pink panther is a gem with an imperfection that looks like a pink panther. It is the goal of the Phantom, a jet set thief who has been terrorizing the European smart set. He is pursued by Inspector Clouseau, the most bumblng detective in Europe. Assisting the phantom are his nephew and the wife of Clouseau.

  • The bumbling Inspector Clouseau travels to Rome to catch a notorious jewel thief known as "The Phantom" before he conducts his most daring heist yet: a princess' priceless diamond with one slight imperfection, known as "The Pink Panther".


Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • As a child, Princess Dala receives a gift from her father, the Shah of Lugash: the Pink Panther, the largest diamond in the world. This huge pink gem has an unusual flaw: looking deeply into the stone, one perceives a tiny discoloration resembling a leaping pink panther hence the name. As the camera moves in, this image comes to life and participates in the credits. When Dala is a young woman, rebels seize power in Lugash and then demand possession of the jewel, but the exiled princess refuses to hand it over.

    Dala (Claudia Cardinale) relaxes on holiday at an exclusive skiing resort in Cortina d'Ampezzo, where noted British playboy Sir Charles Lytton (David Niven), who leads a secret life as a jewel thief called "The Phantom", has his eyes on the Pink Panther. His American playboy nephew, George (Robert Wagner), follows his uncle to the resort hoping to steal the jewel and blame it on the Phantom, not realizing that the Phantom is his uncle.

    On the Phantom's trail is the klutzy French police inspector Jacques Clouseau (Peter Sellers) of the Sûreté, whose wife Simone (Capucine) is unknown to him the paramour of Charles and helper in the Phantom's crimes. Clouseau tries to stop the theft attempts, but he is so clueless and clumsy that when several attempts are made at a fancy-dress party, he looks everywhere but the right place. Throughout the film, scenes at the skiing resort's hotel show Madame Clouseau dodging her husband while trying both to carry out Sir Charles' plans and to avoid George, who is enamoured of her.

    In spite of himself, the buffoonish inspector captures Sir Charles and his accomplice George when they both try to steal the diamond during a costume party. A long car chase though the streets ends with all of the vehicles colliding with one another.

    Later, Simone discovers that Dala herself stole the diamond from her own safe over her fears of being deported back to Lugash. Simone offers to help Dala by taking possession of the diamond and decides to help out Sir Charles and George when they are put on trial for the theft. Conviction looks inevitable until Princess Dala and Simone hatch a plan to frame Clouseau. The defense calls a surprised Clouseau to the stand as their lone witness. The barrister asks a series of questions that suggest Clouseau himself could be the Phantom. The unnerved Clouseau pulls his handkerchief out of his shirt pocket revealing the jewel planted there by Madame Clouseau.

    As Clouseau is being driven away to prison, a regretful Simone expresses fears that he will rot in prison. Sir Charles points out that "it takes years for people to rot; and when the Phantom strikes again, he'll be free as a bird." Sir Charles, Simone, and George drive away together as a united team to continue their life of crime elsewhere, and Dala leaves to go back to her country.

    In the police car, the officers tell Clouseau that as "The Phantom", he is a "national hero" and a sex idol for millions of young women, and add that they are very envious of him. When they ask him, with some deference, how he committed all those robberies, Clouseau, defeated and bewildered and apparently still unaware about his wife's betrayal (but happy to realize that in a few years, when he is released, he will have all the women in the world after him), sighs and smiles a little then replies, "Well you know... it wasn't easy."

    The film ends when the cartoon character of the Pink Panther (works as a police officer), gets run over by a police car, then gets back up and shows "The End" title but instead it's "ThEnd" but then fixes it to "The End" after a sound of the police car crashing into something then closes the film.

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