Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. United Kingdom/USA, 1963. Mirisch G-E Productions. Screenplay by Blake Edwards, Maurice Richlin. Cinematography by Philip H. Lathrop. Produced by Martin Jurow. Music by Henry Mancini. Production Design by Fernando Carrere. Costume Design by Annalisa Nasalli-Rocca, Yves Saint-Laurent. Film Editing by Ralph E. Winters. Academy Awards 1964. Golden Globe Awards 1964.
Henry Mancini’s cool-as-ice jazz score is just the beginning of enjoying this witty comedy, the first to feature the antics of the bumbling Inspector Clouseau. Peter Sellers is a scream as Clouseau, a French detective who is visiting a posh Swiss resort with his gorgeous wife (Capucine) on the trail of a stolen diamond known as the Pink Panther. Complicating the matter is a romance between the Princess (Claudia Cardinale) suspected of having the diamond in her possession, and the possibility of a master thief who has arrived to take it from her. David Niven is also a riot as an aristocrat who has a shy romance with the Princess, while Robert Wagner plays his nephew who has his sights on all the ladies he can get his hands on. Hilariously enough, this film is such a great big party that it constantly forgets to stay on target; the acquisition of the diamond seems to be more incidental than anything else, but the endless amounts of sight gags and funky shindigs (because what Blake Edwards film doesn’t have a classic party scene?) make this an asset rather than a liability. The performances are all delightful, none more sparkling than the adorable and ever so beautiful Cardinale.