THE PATH OF THE PINK PANTHER PT. DEUX

Did you know that Roberto Benigni played Inspector Clouseau in a Pink Panther movie you most likely never heard of? Or that Roger Moore played Clouseau who, it was explained, had undergone extensive plastic surgery to look like Roger Moore? Or that David Niven was brought back for the first Panther movie he’d done since the initial series entry twenty years early, only he was ill and his voice was shot which necessitated dubbing him with Rich Little? Or that there was a Panther movie made up of outtakes from the Sellers movies? I only knew this last fact though I’ve never seen ‘Trail Of The Pink Panther’. I do recall that, upon its release a year after Sellers death, it was derided as a crass attempt to keep the series going by director Blake Edwards but this seems a bit short sighted to me. Edwards must have known how much gold was in the outtakes and saw a way of increasing Sellers legacy as well as giving the Panther fans one more show. What is rather crass is that Edwards tried three more times to revive the series using different actors playing Clouseau, all to no avail. The series belonged to Sellers and even the later Steve Martin remakes, while nominally successful financially, are not on my playlist. Clouseau belongs to Sellers, Sellers owns Clouseau. To that end, enjoy the second part of the doc I posted yesterday which explores all of the above mysteries and machinations of the still-trying-to-be-kept-alive ‘Pink Panther’ series. This weekend I’m planning a Sellers-Panther binge. I’m not sure how well the actual filmmaking of the later Sellers/Edwards ‘Panther’ movies holds up (Sellers was quite mentally deranged by this point and Edwards often had to shoot scenes in flat one-take shots as Sellers couldn’t be counted upon to ever match his actions from shot to shot). But it probably doesn’t matter. My comic heroes as a kid were (in order of obsession) Laurel and Hardy, The Three Stooges and Peter Sellers. They all remain my heroes and define the course of my young development; innocent puzzlement at the world around me (L&H–me ages 4-8), manic embrace of energy, recklessness and bouts of frantic violence (Stooges–me ages 8-10) leading finally to utter confidence mixed with a sneaking suspicion that I might not be entirely correct all the time but will rarely admit to it (Clouseau/Sellers–me ever since).

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