- Movie Rating -

Trail of the Pink Panther (1982)

| December 17, 1982

The Trail of the Pink Panther can be read one of two ways, as either (a.) a tribute to the late Peter Sellers’ mastery of physical comedy or (b.) a crass attempt to ring a few more dollars out of this series even with its star now gone.  For me, it’s really both.  Since the movie uses outtakes that we haven’t seen before, I might like to think that there were good intentions here.  We want to see the fullness of his genius as a comedian and to bask in it one last time.  But at the same time, since the movie has been constructed as a story of an investigative journalist looking for the missing Inspector Clouseau, it does come of as rather crass.

I admit, when the movie stayed with the unseen footage and the recycle stuff from the earlier Panther movies, I did enjoy it.  There is something about Sellers flying through the air that I found instantly funny.  And I admit that I loved the scene the Inspector and his manservant Kato (Burt Kwouk) fall through the floor of their apartment and stop fighting long enough for Kato, covered in dust and plaster, to answer the phone.  The fact that Clouseau has him in a headlock as he answers the phone just puts a cherry on top.  I also laughed hard at a bit in which Clouseau gets trapped in an airplane bathroom while wearing a cast on his leg.

I hadn’t seen this stuff before and I appreciated a lot of it, but then the movie slows down so that we can get back to the interviews being conducted by that journalist.  I didn’t care what she had to say.  Her scenes were slow and repetative and just seemed to drain the energy from the rest of the picture.  Worse is when the movie tries to be funny with new material, especially during a boring comedy bit involving Clouseau’s drunken father (Richard Mulligan).

I don’t know if I needed this movie or not.  I’m glad I saw the unseen footage.  I’m glad that I got some reminders of some of the funniest bits from this series and I’m glad that I got to spend one last trip with the great Peter Sellers.  I wish the movie would cut out all of the new stuff and just settle on Sellers.  That’s what we came for, isn’t it?

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1982) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy