A Shot in the Dark

With the immense success of “The Pink Panther,” writer-director Blake Edwards immediately went to work on a sequel, adapting a French stage farce into a workable screenplay (co-written with William Peter Blatty) that would feature Peter Sellers as the clumsy Inspector Jacques Clouseau. Even though Sellers co- starred with David Niven in the first film, his Inspector Clouseau was obviously the real star, and this film took full advantage of Sellers’ unique talents.

Unlike the other films in “The Pink Panther” series, “A Shot in the Dark” was the only one that failed to feature the priceless diamond that inspired the name, or his cartoon namesake at the beginning of the film. shot in the darkA Shot in the Dark” is a murder mystery set in the countryside of France, where poor maid Maria Gambrelli (Elke Sommer at her most delightful) has been framed for the murder of her boss’ chauffeur. Unaware of the delicacies of the case, Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus (Herbert Lom making his debut in the signature role) assigns Clouseau to the case. Arriving at the posh country estate of Benjamin Ballon (George Sanders), Clouseau immediately smells a rat. Even though he’s smitten with Maria, he also believes that she’s just a patsy for someone more powerful. It’s not long before Clouseau starts fumbling the case, forcing Dreyfus to take him off it. Working in disguise, Clouseau continues his attempt to help clear Maria, but with each attempt comes another dead body. It’s not long before the bodies start piling up, forcing Clouseau to make some drastic choices. One includes following Maria to a nudist colony where he gets more than he bargained for, and then some. Another involves a night on the town with Maria with the hopes of drawing out the killer. Through it all, Clouseau perseveres. Even when he is at the end of his rope, he always manages to pull himself out of dire straits. That’s what I love about Sellers’ Clouseau. He means well, and he is actually a very good detective. There’s just his problems with coordination and mangling the English language. Set in and just outside of France, the film has that distinctive Hollywood look, and it suits the film just fine. “A Shot in the Dark” was the film that also introduced Clouseau’s assistant Cato (Burt Kwouk), who has been trained in the fine art of surprise attacks. The film has all of the trademark “Pink Panther” elements in place, including the outrageous slapstick, the bouncy Henry Mancini score and the animated opening. “A Shot in the Dark” is one of the funniest films in the series, and leave it to Blake Edwards to make such an outrageous comedy with a high body count (more people die in this film than any Shakespeare tragedy). Even though it’s thirty-five years old, the film and the laughs still hold up after all this time. Highly recommended.


VISION: [ ] 20/20 [ X ] Good [ ] Cataracts [ ] Blind

Nice but not spectacular digital transfer in the film’s original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio, enhanced at 16:9 for widescreen televisions. While the overall print looks okay, there are some signs of aging on the negative that dot the transfer with the occasional line or glitch. The colors are handsome and strong, but not as tight as one would like. The saturation is fine, but there is a pasty look that permeates several scenes. The blacks are decent, as are the shadows and whites. Extremely little digital artifacts visible, while the flesh tones (and there’s a lot of flesh in this film) are very flattering.

HEARING: [ X ] Excellent [ ] Minor Hearing Loss [ ] Needs Hearing Aid [ ] Deaf

The Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack is functional and virtually free from any sort of distortion. There’s also an French language mono soundtrack.

ORAL: [ ] Excellent [ X ] Good [ ] Poor

Closed captions in English for the hard of hearing, subtitles in French.

COORDINATION: [ ] Excellent [ X ] Good [ ] Clumsy [ ] Weak

Excellent, animated main menu, plus the film’s original theatrical trailer and an 8-page booklet with fascinating facts from the film.

PROGNOSIS: [ X ] Excellent [ ] Fit [ ] Will Live [ ] Resuscitate [ ] Terminal

Despite the less than stellar picture and sound, I couldn’t recommend the film more. It’s a comedy gem that will make any DVD collection sparkle.

VITALS: $24.99/Rated PG/102 Minutes/Color/32 Chapter Stops/Keepcase/#907501




HMO: MGM Home Entertainment

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