If you could choose only one Pink Panther movie, your best bet would be A Shot in the Dark--ironic, since it's the only entry in the series that doesn't mention the Pink Panther or even feature the cartoon cat in its open... more »ing credits. The title and basic plot are taken from the play by Harry Kurnitz, which in turn was adapted from the French stage comedy L'Idiote, but those plays were completely reconceived by director Blake Edwards, who cowrote the screenplay with William Peter Blatty (yes, the writer of The Exorcist!) and turned the film into a showcase for Peter Sellers and a nonstop parade of slapstick gags and pratfalls. This time Inspector Clouseau is accidentally assigned to track a gorgeous, high-profile murder suspect (Elke Sommer), who is connected to several Parisian murders by circumstantial evidence. Believing her to be innocent when all clues indicate otherwise, Clouseau captures his suspect and releases her several times, to the dismay of Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Herbert Lom), but the plot here is arguably beside the point. As a bumbling variation of Hercule Poirot, Sellers steals the show, refining Clouseau's persona--including his outrageous karate duels with his tenacious valet, Cato (Bert Kwouk)--and nonchalantly waltzing through a plot involving numerous disguises and at least a dozen murders. Some scenes are so funny that you could swear the actors are about to crack up laughing, so you laugh even harder when supporting players such as Graham Stark (as Clouseau's tolerant assistant, Hercule) hold a perfectly deadpan expression. Of all the Pink Panther movies, this is the one that fires on all pistons, with Edwards and Sellers in peak form, servicing a traditional farce that brought out the best in their inspired collaboration. --Jeff Shannon« less
A Shot in the Dark -- One of the Funniest Films of All Time
Michael K. Beusch | San Mateo, California United States | 12/06/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Peter Sellers was a comic genius, and nowhere is this more evident than in A Shot in the Dark, the first of the Pink Panther series to exclusively feature Sellers' Inspector Clouseau. It's one case where the sequel is superior to the original! This film can only be described as gaspingly funny. I've seen this move several dozen times, but it still makes me howl with laughter every time I see it. It's amazing to think that Sellers also made The Pink Panther, Dr. Stangelove, and The World of Henry Orient the same year (all titles I would highly recommend as well). The fact that "Shot" is now on DVD in widescreen makes it that much more special. The supporting cast (Elke Sommer, Herbert Lom, George Sanders, and Bert Kwouk, among others) is perfect and provides a perfect ensemble foil to Sellers. The "Camp Sunshine" scene alone makes "Shot" worth seeing. This film is so funny, I can recommend that you purchase it without having seen it first -- it's that good!"
"I Seem To Have Stabbed Myself With A Letter Opener."
Robert I. Hedges | 07/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of the very rare films where the sequel is better than the original. This movie is absolutely a letter perfect comedy: suave yet silly; understated yet over the top; pompous yet reserved. You get the idea. A perfect film. I wouldn't change one thing about this movie, even if I could. Peter Sellers defines the bumbling Clouseau as an individual better here than in the original, and I think the supporting cast is stronger as well. Elke Sommer is perfect as the beautiful, naive murder suspect who Clouseau goes to any ends to defend, while George Sanders is wonderful as the great scoundrel millionaire, Benjamin Ballon. Introduced for the first time in the series are Bert Kwouk as Kato (later spelled 'Cato'), Graham Stark as Clouseau's (extremely) patient assistant, Hercule, and my favorite of all the Panther supporting characters, the great Herbert Lom as Inspector Dreyfus. Watching Lom go through the phases of psychosis in this film is one of the greatest experiences and delights a person can have as a movie viewer. (I particularly like his performance in the closing scene, and when reading the newspaper with trembling hands and twitching eye.)The plot concerns Clouseau's infatuation with a wrongly accused murder suspect, and the chaos that develops from that unlikely situation. The film is filled with a degree of nuance seldom seen in a comedy, and is probably the best crafted of all the Panther films (although I have to admit that the way over the top "Pink Panther Strikes Again" is my personal favorite.) The physical comedy that Sellers could make totally natural (watch the "spinning globe" scene for an excellent example) is still unrivalled, and the nuanced interplay with other cast members is better than in any other comedy that I can think of (to see what I mean watch the "curved pool cue" scene and the interaction of both Monsieur Ballon and the butler.)I highly recommend this film. The DVD print is good, though there are few extras (the original trailer is very amusing and a tad on the weird side.) It is slapstick, but it is very refined slapstick done by the master, Peter Sellers. If only they still made movies like this today. I give it five stars only because Amazon won't allow more!"
Inspector Clouseau Benchmark
hille2000 | USA | 11/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is by far the wittiest and amusingly the funniest of all the Inspector Clouseau and Pink Panther films. The last time we saw Inspector Clouseau he was on his way to jail as the convicted notorious "The Phantom" jewel thief at the close of THE PINK PANTHER. Happily he is out and reinstated. Besides the perseverance of Peter Sellers as Clouseau this films introduces the regular members of the series that thrived even after the loss of Sellers. Herbert Lom as Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus, Burt Kwouk as Kato, Andre Maranne as François and Graham Stark as Hercule Lajoy all acted as a counterpoint to Sellers' Clouseau which greatly bolstered and defined the various and curious qualities of the Inspector. It's interesting how Blake Edwards returned to the original format of THE PINK PANTHER for the rest of the series yet he retained these regular characters introduced here in A SHOT IN THE DARK. The other great contribution to the series is Henry Mancini's score once again present here and in all Pink Panther films directed by Blake Edwards. This is a great movie."
Bare bones DVD
Nobody | 02/03/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Why the four stars? Well 5 for the movie, about which nothing further needs to be said, surely. But let's knock off a star for this DVD package. There's nothing wrong with the film, looks fine, so far as I can see. But the extras are merely some stills and the trailer, there's not even a paper insert! That's a pity, I would have loved an hour of interviews from those still around (or maybe in the can already). Ah well, it's cheap, but it's like MGM figured this was just an oldy and didn't deserve any special handling. That's an insult for one the best comedies ever made, with every single scene a gem."
The finest of the PINK PANTHER films
Tom Benton | North Springfield, VT USA | 08/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Blake Edwards and William Peter Blatty, the latter of whom would eventually write THE EXORCIST (both the novel and the film), were working on adapting a stageplay by Marcel Achard and Harry Kurnitz when Edwards had the idea of turning it into a vehicle for the character of Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Peter Sellers), the bumbling French policeman with the thick accent from Edwards' caper comedy THE PINK PANTHER. The result is A SHOT IN THE DARK, released the same year as its predecessor (1964).
The film opens with a wonderful little sequence which culminates in a murder at the home of millionaire Benjamin Ballon (George Sanders). Inspector Jacques Clouseau is mistakenly assigned to the case. Though the evidence screams that the Ballon home's maid, Maria Gambrelli (Elke Sommer), is responsible for the murder, Clouseau is captivated by her beauty and refuses to believe it. He sets out to prove Gambrelli's innocence as more and more evidence against her piles up, all the while driving his superior, Chief Inspector Dreyfuss (Herbert Lom), farther and farther up the wall.
A SHOT IN THE DARK is most certainly the finest of the Inspector Clouseau adventures. It is at once a great comedy, a great PINK PANTHER film, and a great mystery. Edwards and Blatty know what to do and when to do it, be it slapstick comedy or plays on Clouseau's thick accent. The identity of the murderer remains completely unknown until the ending - you won't see it coming. The endlessly inventive script comes up with one outrageous scene after another, resulting in one of the most fun and funny "whodunnit"s ever made.
Henry Mancini's music has never been better. His score, including a delightfully shady theme, is magnificent, possibly the finest of his career. The film's original song, "The Shadows Of Paris", is great as well. Mancini's score isn't always funny, however; there is a montage of scenes in the film where Clouseau is targeted for murder by an assassin. The assassin's face is not revealed; we see only his gun and his gloved hand. The way that director Edwards filmed this scenes, combined with Mancini's inhuman score, is to me quite horrifying.
Sellers is at his finest as the completely unreasonable, constantly bumbling Inspector Clouseau. What would these films be without him? It is painful to imagine someone else in the world. It fits Sellers like his character's trademark coat. A SHOT IN THE DARK also marks the first appearance of Kato (Burt Kwouk), Clouseau's servant and frequent "attacker". Sommer and Lom are also great in their roles, particularly Lom as the increasingly loony Dreyfus.
If there is one PINK PANTHER film you must see, it's A SHOT IN THE DARK. The film has become a true comedy classic, and rightfully so. It's an immensely fun movie that will keep you guessing - and laughing - until the very end."