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The Pink Panther Strikes Again [1976)

This is a brilliant film. And though I doubt the Quasimodo disguise kit which Clouseau just happened to have on hand prior to learning of Dreyfus’ escape was spun-off into a product tie-in, it should have been.

The problem with the prior film (The Return of the Pink Panther) is remedied here in spades with liberal experimentation. Having Dreyfus form a S.P.E.C.T.R.E.-like crime organization is as ingenious as it is utterly ridiculous. Students of German cinema may be left wondering whether Professor Fassbender is actually a reference to Rainer Werner Fassbinder. No matter: the joy of this film is how little it takes itself seriously.

Clouseau once again is buoyed by his charmed existence: like Charlie Chaplin meets Forrest Gump. The world’s top assassins (assigned to kill our beloved Inspector) are no match for Clouseau’s fateful luck–stumbling over each other like a bunch of amateurs in his wake–and he is none-the-wiser (being both detached and oblivious).  Peter Sellers was pure nitrous oxide when he was at his best. His visual humor has been near-unparalleled in the history of cinema. His performance in this film ranks with The Party as among his best.

Awkward men everywhere can exult in the clumsy attempt Clouseau makes near the end of the movie to simply get undressed (similar to his misadventures with Capucine in the original installment of the series).

Director Blake Edwards expanded on the “psychedelic” touches of The Return of the Pink Panther by having more outrageous slow-motion scream-groans in the primary karate skirmish between Cato and Clouseau. It is a truly masterful instance of surrealism.

In short, it is a viewing experience not to be missed. This is your dossier.

-PD

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