Pink Panther [2005]

The history of film comedy would have been much altered if Peter Ustinov had stayed in the role of Jacques Clouseau, the bumbling French police inspector in The Pink Panther. But Ustinov dropped out, the role went to Peter Sellers, and a classic character was born: suspicious, blundering, with a pompous little mustache and a sometimes impenetrable accent, Clouseau was always one step behind everybody else in the room. The Pink Panther introduced Clouseau hot on the trail of a famous jewel thief (David Niven), who may be planning to make off with an expensive gem known as the Pink Panther. Set in a European ski resort, this bubbly comedy is a wonderful dose of '60s style, from the famous Henry Mancini theme music to the presence of two of Europe's top sex symbols of the era, Claudia Cardinale and Capucine. The film also introduced the popular cartoon Pink Panther, slinking around to Mancini's music in an animated credits sequence. The film's success brought a follow-up, A Shot in the Dark, also released in 1964; after 11 years, Sellers and top comedy director Blake Edwards (10) returned with three more sequels. --Robert Horton

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