A Shot In The Dark – 1964
The second installment of the original Pink Panther series of films and possibly the funniest. The great Peter Sellers reprises his role as legendary comic figure Inspector Jacques Clouseau of the French Sûreté.
Whilst Clouseau’s bumbling personality is unchanged, it was in this film that Sellers began to give him the idiosyncratically exaggerated French accent that was to become a hallmark of the character. The film also introduces Herbert Lom as his boss, Commissioner Dreyfus, and Burt Kwouk as his long-suffering servant, Cato, who would both become series regulars.
The film was originally not written to to include Clouseau, but was an adaptation of a stage play by Harry Kurnitz adapted from the French play L’Idiote by Marcel Achard. As Blake Edwards and future The Exorcist creator William Peter Blatty began work on the script, they decided the story would be a good vehicle for the Clouseau character, and rewrote the script around the new premise.
Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers) is called to the country home of a Paris plutocrat, Benjamin Ballon (George Sanders), to investigate the murder of his Spanish chauffeur, Miguel. The chauffeur was having an affair with the maid, Maria Gambrelli (Elke Sommer), who claims that he often beat her. Although all the evidence points to Gambrelli as the killer, Clouseau stubbornly refuses to admit that she is guilty, having fallen madly in love with her.
As the real murderers attempt to hide their tracks they commit more murders with each murder the finger once again points to Maria Gambrelli. She is arrested and each time Clouseau sets her free.
As Clouseau bumbles his way through the investigation chaos ensues and for one Chief Inspector Dreyfus it’s almost all too much as he’s driven towards insanity.
Peter Sellers – Inspector Jacques Clouseau
Elke Sommer – Maria Gambrelli
Burt Kwouk – Kato
Herbert Lom – Charles Dreyfus
Directed By: Blake Edwards
Produced By: Blake Edwards
Screenplay By: Blake Edwards and William Peter Blatty
Story By: Marcel Achard and Harry Kurnitz
UK Cinema Release Date: 29th January 1965