A Shot in the Dark
Inspector Clouseau’s only murder case, well we hope!
Written By: Andrew Lowe
Date: 19th February, 2015
The only (proper) Inspector Clouseau film to not reference the Pink Panther in any way shape or form, and to be honest, will always be the best of the bunch. This is Peter Sellers at his comedic best.
This was made in 1964, and was a quick follow up to the original Pink Panther, which was a hit and to be honest was only watchable thanks to Peter Sellers stealing every scene even though he was only a supporting character.
Originally `A Shot In the Dark` was originally play a called `L'Idiote`, which was heavily re-written by Blake Edwards to make the star of the film, Inspector Clouseau.
The plot of the film is a maid of millionaire is accused of murder, and Inspector Clouseau has mistaken been assigned the case. Immediately he causes havoc throughout the entire household, by setting his own coat on fire and falling in the fountain. Then after meeting the prime suspect, Maria Gambrelli, Clouseau falls in with here on first sight. His boss, Commissioner Dreyfus, arrives and takes over the case.
Eventually Dreyfus gives the case back to Clouseau, after receiving influential phones calls with his superiors, as much as he hates the idea. Clouseau immediately goes about trying to prove her innocence, by releasing her on bail. Unfortunately by tracking her, it leads to her being found with as the prime suspect of another murder, George the Gardner, which causes her to get arrested again.
Clouseau releases her yet again maintaining her innocence. Maria ends going to a nudist colony, with Clouseau following her, hoping that she would lead him to whomever he believes Maria is protecting to be the real murderer. Unfortunately this leads to yet another murder, Dudu the maid.
Dreyfus finally has enough, kicks Clouseau off the case and transfers him. However after pondering the decision, he does yet another u-turn, all while accidently stabbing himself with a letter opener. This leads to Clouseau taking out Maria for the night. Dreufus, finally succumbing to madness with Clouseau’s antics, tried to kill Clouseau several times throughout the night, failing each time and killing an innocent bystander.
After this Clouseau comes up with a plan to expose the murderer once and for all, by bringing the entire household together. This works, but all of them try and escape in Clouseau’s car, which Dreyfus has planted a bomb in, and they all end up dead.
This film is the best of the Inspector Clouseau films. I don’t call them ‘Pink Panther’ films because most of them have no reference to the Pink Panther at all in any of the stories, this being the first.
I found the film entertaining at the upmost. It has a lot of very clever slapstick style humour without the entire film (the globe gag by saying ‘look I have Africa all over my hand’ is perfectly done). I must have watched this film hundreds of times since I was kid, but I still love and enjoy it. I know virtually every line but I still find the acting perfect.
This is Peter Sellers at his very best. His career has had some very questionable projects, but no one can argue that this is Sellers at his very best. His timing is perfect; it is very much his film unlike the original Pink Panther. One major thing good thing about this film is that we see Sellers in his prime. The problem with the later Inspector Clouseau films is that he is heavily made up and doesn’t look like Peter Sellers anymore.
The supporting cast is truly excellent too. Elke Sommer looks positively stunning in this film, and I could understand immediatey why Clouseau could instantly fall for her. Herbert Lom is at his finest playing the slowly maddening Dreyfus, even his opening line is truly fantastic and sets up his character perfectly. George Sanders, who has a superb throaty voice, is brillant as the upper class millionaire. In fact all of the cast have been perfectly selected and excellent comic timing.
Overall this is the best Inspector Clouseau film that has ever been made. Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers were at their very best and peak of their skills when making this film. It amazes me to this day that both of them could make this even though they bickered and argued through out the entire time making it. And who ever thought that Steve Martin could play Inspector Clouseau should be ashamed of themselves.