The Pink Panther (1963)

For most of my life, the Pink Panther was only a cartoon character from an animated series. Then, quite recently, I learnt that that character originated from Blake Edward's crime comedy The Pink Panther, and being a fan of crime movies and having heard good things about it, I decided to check it out. 

The story follows a French detective, Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Peter Sellers), who is obsessively trying to catch a jewel thief known as "The Phantom". A lead takes him to Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, at a ski resort where English playboy Sir Charles Lytton (David Niven) and bored Princess Dala (Claudia Cardinale), who has with her the Pink Panther diamond, are also staying. 

For most of its running time, The Pink Panther doesn't really a plot nor a real focus and relies on a silly and pointless scene after another. In addition, with all the subplots being revelled at the beginning —Clouseau's wife (Capucine) having an affair with Lytton and Lytton being "The Phantom"—, there's very little mystery and, after a while, the story becomes dull, uninteresting and unengaging, and it takes some turns that make no sense whatsoever.

The characters are the reason why not much happens for the majority of the film. There are a lot of them and apparently all of their backstories need to be unveiled before the story moves any further. I wouldn't normally consider this a flaw but this time I do since this doesn't add much to the story. Also, most of them are annoying and unlikeable.

United Artists
All of that being said, The Pink Panther is not the kind of film you watch for a complex story or characters as it's more about the comedy. While it occasionally falls flat, whether it's physical or verbal, the humour is quite delightful and there are many laughs spread throughout the film.

The cast is also a pleasure to watch. Although he's underused —his was supposed to be only a minor character, after all—, Peter Sellers does a very good job as the clumsy Inspector Clouseau and provides most of the film's humour. David Niven is equally good as Sir Charles but he's given way too much screen time with his uninteresting subplots. As for the actresses, both Claudia Cardinale and Capucine are here just for eye-candy purposes.

The highlight of the film? The amusing animated opening credits featuring the Pink Panther and Henry Mancini's iconic theme song.


  1. Aghhh...I love this film and consider it a classic farce which is what it is. David Niven was the big star at that time so it’s natural that he would be in most scenes and Wagner was also quite big. Sellers was more known in Britain than here but he made it his own and, due to this film, he made the Pink Panther famous. This is where one realizes how comedy is a personal preference and very personal. I loved every bit of it including the great costume party at the end with the very fun chase

  2. I admit to being an absolute sucker for the sequels that followed this one. I like The Pink Panther, but the sequels get so nutty and I love them for that. Hope you'll give them a shot.

    1. I will, sooner or later. Thanks for the suggestion!