265. The Pink Panther

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Movie: The Pink Panther

Release Date: March 18, 1964

Director: Blake Edwards

Starring: David Niven, Peter Sellers, Robert Wagner, Capucine, Claudia Cardinale.

Tag Lines: “You only live once…so see the Pink Panther twice!!!”

“The star-studded international cast of the year sparkling in the wackiest, most wonderful sport – on the glamorous Italian Riviera where the jet-set swings, sways and plays…”

“A Madcap Frolic Of Crime and Fun.”

Relevance: Saturday morning cartoons were a big part of my life growing up. From the mid-1970’s to the early 1980’s, I would wake up by 8 am on a Saturday, eat my breakfast in front of the television and not move until noon. During that time I would watch shows like “Scooby Doo,” “The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show,” “Mighty Mouse,” “Super Friends,” “Laff-A-Lympics” as well as the “Schoolhouse Rock” animated musical short films. Those were hours well spent in front of the television.

Another show that I used to watch and enjoy was “The Pink Panther Show.” I not only loved the character, I loved the theme music. Anytime my dad would see the Pink Panther or hear the music he would tell the same joke over and over again. “What did the Pink Panther say when he stepped on a bug?” “Dead ant. Dead ant. Dead ant, dead ant, dead ant, dead ant, dead aaaaaaaant.” (You’re welcome for the theme song that is now stuck in your head.) I laughed every time. I get the silly gene from him.

Not only did my father always share that joke, he also always mentioned “those Pink Panther movies,” and he would tell me all about Inspector Jacques Clouseau. I probably didn’t see any of those movies until the 1980’s when we finally got HBO at our house. I am also pretty sure that I saw one of the sequels before watching ‘The Pink Panther.’ By the time that I did see the original, I was already a Peter Sellers and Inspector Clouseau fan. Big time.

As much as I did enjoy the sequels, the original film is far and away my favorite. The humor was exactly what my father and I liked best...silliness. And as much as I enjoyed the antics of Peter Sellers and company in the film, I think what I liked most about it was hearing my father laugh while watching it. And of course as soon as the theme song started, I heard that joke again.

Today’s Thoughts: “Take your filthy hands off my asp!”

I am thankful today’s movie was not a weepy drama with death and sorrow as I’m not sure I would have been able to get through it. Not today at least. The universe knew this and threw me a bone. And that bone was ‘The Pink Panther.’

I have seen every Pink Panther movie, including the remakes with Steve Martin, and have enjoyed them all. I own most of them too. It’s that silly gene. I am thankful for it. ‘The Pink Panther’ is still my favorite in the series. I have watched it numerous times throughout my life, but it has to have been at least ten years since my last viewing. It came at the perfect time.

There is no one better at slapstick comedy than Peter Sellers. He is pure genius in this role. But the role in this particular film is part of an ensemble. Everyone gets their fair share at the ridiculous. Prat falls, car chases, mistaken identities, silly stunts galore amidst “straight faces” will always make me at least smile. All of the actors are superb at it. Mr. Sellers, of course, but David Niven is equally perfect at this type of comedy. His deadpan delivery while in a ridiculous situation is priceless.

Blake Edwards is the best director for this type of humor and one whose films have been watched many, many times in my life. He has already appeared once on this list (see 278. 10) and will appear one more time later this year. ‘The Pink Panther’ is a classic and worthy of being recognized by the Library of Congress as “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant” in 2010. The combination of the story, Mr. Edwards’ direction and Mr. Sellers performance was the perfect escape for today.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Music, Substantially Original Score, Henry Mancini (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Actor – Comedy or Musical, Peter Sellers (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best British Actor, Peter Sellers (nomination), National Film Registry (2010), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Comedy, Maurice Richlin, Blake Edwards (nomination).

Ways to Watch: YouTube, Google Play, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Vudu, DVD Availability.

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