Revenge of the Pink Panther [1978]

The sixth Pink Panther comedy was the last to star Peter Sellers (the following film in the series incorporated previously unseen footage), and it was also the last in the series to show any signs of genuine inspiration. It's a weak entry in the Panther pantheon, involving a rather mundane plot about a "French Connection" drug deal that leads Inspector Clouseau--presumed murdered and now sleuthing incognito--to Hong Kong for a brash, slapstick finale that almost compensates for the routine gags that precede it. Sellers and director Blake Edwards are coasting along smoothly here, and some of the gags pay off in well-earned laughs--particularly with a clever nod to Dr. Strangelove when Clouseau dons a Toulouse-Lautrec costume. Another highlight finds Clouseau disguised as an old sea captain, complete with a leaky inflatable parrot (it looks more like a purple puffin) resting limply on his shoulder. But a later attempt to spoof Mafia kingpins is hardly up to snuff for a talent as original as Sellers, and Dyan Cannon lacks the comedic sensibility to make the most of her role as a druglord's vengeful ex-mistress. Some of the physical gags are amazingly elaborate, and it's still a riot to hear Sellers perfecting (or is that murdering?) his hilarious French accent, but while it's adequately enjoyable this movie makes you long for the glory days of the Pink Panther franchise. --Jeff Shannon

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