Ring a Ding Ding
I thought I was watching the Pink Panther movies in sequence, but my powers of deduction have fooled me into thinking The Pink Panther Strikes Again was the third in the series, when in fact I’ve missed The Return of the Pink Panther that was released the year prior. Nevertheless, I did not notice I’d missed anything and was thoroughly able to enjoy the latest of my viewings without hindrance while still noticing jokes that point back to previous films.
The now-familiar former Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) is about to be released from the mental institution where doctors believe he’s been cured of the insanity and urge to kill caused by the troublesome Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Peter Sellers). When now-Chief Inspector Clouseau visits Dreyfus on his day of release, the patient reverts to his murderous desire after interaction with his nemesis lands him wet and with a “bemp” on the head.
Dreyfus escapes from his imprisonment hell-bent on destroying the world lest Clouseau is assassinated. He kidnaps a scientist and his daughter to gain the technology to remotely zap buildings into nonexistence. The scientist resists until his daughter is subjected to torture via nails on a chalkboard. Not only is Clouseau investigating the kidnapping, but he soon must evade assassins from every country on the earth, who are out to win his head and save the world.
Naturally, along the way a female assassin falls in love with Clouseau after she thinks she makes love to him in a darkened room, when in fact she has bedded a Greek assassin played by an uncredited Omar Sharif. The inspector’s manservant/sparing partner (if you will) Cato (Burt Kwouk) also reappears in an extended battle sequence near the film’s start, but is injured by a bomb (“the exploding kind”) and is out until the film’s end when in familiar fashion he jumps into bed with the lovers.
The sequence with the female assassin (Lesley-Anne Down) might be my favorite in this picture. One assassin dressed as Clouseau enters the chief inspector’s hotel room. Sharif follows and kills him in the bathtub, thinking it is Clouseau himself. When the female assassin, Olga, enters, she declares her love for Clouseau and seduces Sharif in a dimly lit room. Sharif leaves and now the actual Clouseau arrives. He moves throughout several rooms turning on lights and turning off others while Olga is doing the same. He’s befuddled as to what is happening with the lighting and even more surprised when he gets into bed with some “cold hands.” Olga thinks she is with the same man, and a confused Clouseau escapes to the bathroom, where he now finds the body. He calls the front desk and declares “Hello?… Yes. There is a beautiful woman in my bed, and a dead man in my bath.”
I have truly only discovered Blake Edwards after starting this blog and have managed to herald a handful of his movies in that time (Victor/Victoria, The Great Race). This movie was as enjoyable as I expected but I would not declare it the director’s best (although the opening credits might be). TCM’s Robert Osborne says most people consider The Pink Panther Strikes Again to be the best in the series, but although highly amusing, I am sticking with A Shot in the Dark as my favorite.