When “The Return of the Pink Panther” premiered in 1975 Vincent Canby wrote in NYT:
‘Clouseau is the very special slapstick triumph of Mr. Sellers and Mr. Edwards. He's not stupid in any ordinary sense. He simply allows himself to be too easily distracted by details of secondary importance. He's like a child who has just learned to read. No set of instructions on an aspirin botle would be without interest to him.When Clouseau is at hand, innocent objects become potential weapons of destruction, often his own. It has something to do with the intensity of his distraction.’
‘Somewhat complicating matters are the presences of Clouseau's superior, Chief Inspector Dreyfus, hilariously played by Herbert Lom with the fury of the demonically possessed; Sir Charles's wife, Claudine (Catherine Schell), who seems to be enjoying herself no matter how outrageous the circumstances of the slapstick, and Cato (Burt Kwouk). Clouseau's Oriental servant, who sometimes hides in the refrigerator, the better to surprise his employer with an unexpected karate chop.The screenplay is funny but even better are the sight gags that are a kind of inventory of everything Clouseau has been unable to master in his long, irrelevant career — monkeys, magnifying glasses, vacuum cleaners, sauna baths, door bells, dance floors, false mustaches, kneehole desks and four-wheeled vehicles, all kinds and models.’
Read the review here.
The other night I was watching this with my companion and she mildly disagreed with Mr. Canby.
After approximately one hour she said: ‘I’m going to bed.’
Honestly, the movie didn’t live up to expectations, based on fond memories of Mr. Sellars as inspector Clouseau.
And I still love old-fashioned slapstick.
The scene with the vacuum cleaner in Gstaad Palace, ah Gstaad Palace, is still rather perfect slapstick.
And the check in (‘Do you have a “reum”?) remains unforgettable.
I didn’t convert my companion to Mr. Sellars as Clouseau, but the intensity of distraction remains a crucial aspect, of life, of writing, of slapstick.