A Shot in the Dark (1964)

<strong class="MovieTitle">A Shot in the Dark</strong> (1964)

(In French, On TV, February 2019) The original The Pink Panther was not designed to spawn a series of movies featuring Inspecteur Clouzeau, who was clearly a supporting player in a much broader farce. But Peter Sellers brought such a manic energy to the role that producers were quick to ditch the panther and keep the inspector. With A Shot in the Dark, you can see the progression of the series’ premise in featuring Clouzot at its centre, not even attempting to recapture the spirit of the original. It’s not yet perfect—the comedy is unusually dark for the series, with a high body count of innocents dying from being at the wrong place while villains were aiming for Clouzot. But there are still a few funny moments in the result—most notably toward the conclusion, as “the usual suspects” are brought together and nothing goes as planned. Sellers himself is quite good in pratfalls, but his bumbling does become tiresome when it’s the focus of the film, and A Shot in the Dark’s annoying repetitions of the same gags does mean that the film gets redundant after a while. Ironically enough, the French dub of the film is less annoying than the original English version … because it removes Clouzeau’s ridiculous accent, and makes Sellers about half as annoying as a result.

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