The Pink Panther Collection

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7.8

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The Pink Panther Collection
The Pink Panther Collection
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Shout! Select is a collection of releases by Shout! Factory featuring some cult hits that don’t always get a chance in the spotlight. Films like Red Dawn, Nighthawks, Car Wash, some Bruce Lee classics, and now, The Pink Panther Collection, arriving on Blu-ray this week.

The Pink Panther franchise is a large one no matter how you slice it. In full scope, it spans decades and includes about eleven films and dozens of animated shorts and cartoons as well. For this Shout! set, it contains those specifically with director Blake Edwards and star actor Peter Sellers. I used to think that A Shot In the Dark was the first in this series, but it’s actually second. In 1963, The Pink Panther was released, starring David Niven and Peter Sellers. Both this and A Shot In the Dark are standout classic films with great replay value. The complete rest of the franchise is varying levels of basically forgettable beyond these two. With this Shout! set, A Shot In the Dark makes its Blu-ray debut, along with 1976’s The Pink Panther Strikes Again, both presented in new 4K scans of the interpositives.

The Pink Panther is, as I would venture to guess that most do not know, a fictitious precious gemstone that is a religious symbol in a fictitious country known as Lugash. This gem has a flaw, that when viewed in certain light, creates the image of a leaping, pink panther. The stone is owned by Princess Dala (Claudia Cardinale), who is on vacation at a ski resort in Cortina d’Ampezzo. David Niven’s character, Sir Charles Lytton, and his partner in crime, Simone Clouseau (Capucine), descend on the resort in an attempt to steal the Pink Panther. The foolish, but persistent and confident Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Peter Sellers) manages to stop the theft, often in spite of himself. Like A Shot In the Dark, this film has a lot going for it — a great cast, beautiful sets, a captivating story, and comedy that works and has aged pretty well with time (things that are much harder to say for the other movies in this set, and in the franchise).

A year later, the Edwards and Sellers duo would release A Shot In the Dark, which does not specifically have anything to do with the Pink Panther stone, which is an interesting factoid about most of the movies in this set — the actual stone is not even a part of the story. Instead, Clouseau is called in to investigate a high profile murder at a wealthy estate; he continues to insist that the most obvious suspect is innocent, and his misadventures ultimately prove this to be true. While having nothing to do with the Pink Panther, we do however see the introduction of Herbert Lom as Chief Inspector Dreyfus, who goes increasingly mad with the incredible success of Clouseau despite Clouseau being a complete fool. This dynamic runs throughout all of the remaining films, with Lom’s character providing not only additional comic relief, but actually posing as they key villain in The Pink Panther Strikes Again.

The Return of the Pink Panther was released in 1975, more than a decade after the last showing of Sellers as Clouseau. The difference in age is apparent, and the charm of the comedy is not as potent as it used to be, instead resorting to some raunchiness and re-used gimmicks, a problem that grows worse as the series continues. In this film, the diamond is stolen again and Sir Charles Lytton, now played by Christopher Plummer, is suspected. A year later, The Pink Panther Strikes Again sees Chief Inspector Dreyfus going completely mad and intent on destroying the world if the world does not kill Clouseau — plenty of goofy comedy and hijinks ensue. 1978’s Revenge of the Pink Panther is the last time Sellers would play Clouseau before his death in 1980; in this film, he stops a massive drug deal involving the French Connection. You then also have 1982’s Trail of the Pink Panther, a strange film which uses previously released and some unreleased footage of Peter Sellers as Clouseau. Here, the Pink Panther is stolen again, but the plane carrying Clouseau to Lugash disappears and it’s unknown if he is alive or dead. A reporter travels to visit several characters from the previous films, including Sir Charles Lytton (played by David Niven) to talk about Clouseau, and this sets the stage for clips from the previous movies to be played. It’s an odd film and rather unsettling overall. Generally speaking though, other than The Pink Panther and A Shot In the Dark, the other four films are worth watching once anyway, but they’re not particularly great.

The Pink Panther Collection is packaged in a standard sized case with a removable cardboard cover and a nice twenty-eight page booklet that I’ll detail shortly. All films are in 1080p, 2:35:1 and include (only) English subtitles, with audio tracks being DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Image quality for the most part is very good. I noted that Return of the Pink Panther had some grain in the image, but overall the image quality for all films is great. The booklet contains summaries of the films, the movie posters, and still images from the films. This is the first of many extra features in this complete set — a good number of which are brand new. For the sake of completeness and convenience, I will copy the list of extra features in a disc-by-disc list, taken directly from the Shout! product page:

DISC 1: THE PINK PANTHER
• NEW An Italian Indian: The Pink Panther Princess – an interview with actress Claudia Cardinale
• Audio Commentary by writer/director Blake Edwards
• 2003 Featurette – The Pink Panther Story
• 2003 Featurette – Behind the Feline: The Cartoon Phenomenon
• 2008 Featurette – A Conversation with Robert Wagner: Coolest Cat in Cortina
• 2008 Featurette – Diamonds: Beyond the Sparkle
• 2008 Featurette – The Tip-Toe Life of a Cat Burglar: A Conversation with Former Jewel Thief Bill Mason
• Theatrical Trailer
• Photo Galleries (studio stills, production candids, theatrical release posters, and vintage lobby cards)

DISC 2: A SHOT IN THE DARK
• NEW 4K scan of the interpositive
• NEW Featurette – Back to the Start: The Origin of the Pink Panther – an interview with production company chief Walter Mirisch
• NEW Audio Commentary by Jason Simos of the Peter Sellers Appreciation Society
• Blake Edwards and Julie Andrews on The Dick Cavett Show
• Theatrical Trailers
• The Pink Panther/A Shot in the Dark 1966 reissue Theatrical Trailer
• Photo Galleries (studio stills, production candids, theatrical release posters, and vintage lobby cards)

DISC 3: THE RETURN OF THE PINK PANTHER
• NEW Featurette – A Bit of Passion and Lots of Laughs: an interview with actress Catherine Schell
• NEW Featurette: an interview with production designer Peter Mullins
• NEW Audio Commentary by Jason Simos of the Peter Sellers Appreciation Society
• 1975 Featurette: The Return of Laughter (The Making of The Return of the Pink Panther)
• Theatrical Trailers
• TV Spots
• Radio Spots
• Photo Galleries (studio stills, production candids, theatrical release posters, and vintage lobby cards)

DISC 4: THE PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN
• NEW 4K scan of the interpositive
• NEW Featurette – Panther Musings: an interview with actress Lesley-Anne Down
• NEW Featurette – A Cut Above: Editing the Pink Panther Films – an interview with editor Alan Jones
• NEW Audio Commentary by Jason Simos of the Peter Sellers Appreciation Society
• 1976 Featurette – Clouseau: The Greatest Fumbler in the World (The Making of The Pink Panther Strikes Again)
• Rare Teaser Trailers
• Theatrical Trailers
• TV Spots
• Radio Spots
• Photographer Colin Cadle’s on-set gallery
• Photo Galleries (studio stills, production candids, theatrical release posters, and vintage lobby cards)

DISC 5: REVENGE OF THE PINK PANTHER
• NEW Audio Commentary by author and film historian William Patrick Maynard
• Rare Teaser Trailer
• Theatrical Trailer
• TV Spots
• Radio Spots
• Photo Galleries (studio stills, production candids, theatrical release posters, and vintage lobby cards)

DISC 6: TRAIL OF THE PINK PANTHER
• NEW Audio Commentary by author and film historian William Patrick Maynard
• Rare Teaser Trailer
• Theatrical Trailer
• Photo Galleries (studio stills, production candids, theatrical release posters, and vintage lobby cards)

Overall, this is a compelling box set for fans of the Pink Panther. Personally, it was nice to revisit these films as I had not watched any of them in probably fifteen years, and some of them (Revenge, Return, Trail) I had never seen at all. While I don’t care much for four of the six films in this set, Shout! has done a good job compiling them and including new extra features for those that are passionate Pink Panther fans.
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7.8

Good