The Pink Panther (1964)

113 mins | Comedy | 20 March 1964

Director:

Blake Edwards

Producers:

Mirisch Company

Cinematographer:

Philip Lathrop

Production Designer:

Fernando Carrère

Production Company:

Mirisch--G-E Productions
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HISTORY

Opening credits contain the following inaccuracies: The last name of actress Meri Welles is misspelled “Wells,” while the last name of production supervisor Jack McEdwards is misspelled “McEdward.” McEdwards happened to be director Blake Edwards’ step-father, as noted in a 28 Nov 1962 DV news item.
       The 16 May 1962 Var announced that The Pink Panther would be the first feature film from the newly formed production company of Blake Edwards and producer Martin Jurow. The pair garnered additional production support from the Mirisch Company, which had a long-standing distribution arrangement with United Artists, and two months later, an 11 Jul 1962 Var news brief noted that their G–E Productions had allocated $3 million for The Pink Panther. Production was slated to begin sometime in Nov 1962 in Italy.
       Another item in the 11 Jul 1962 Var suggested that actress Audrey Hepburn would star in the role of “an Indian princess.” Edwards, who directed Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961, see entry), may have underestimated the star’s commitments to other projects. Two weeks later, a 27 Jul 1962 DV brief indicated that actress Nancy Kwan looked likely to play the role. Over the next month, various contemporary sources speculated that Cyd Charisse and Claudia Cardinale were being courted to appear in the film. By Sep 1962, Cardinale’s casting was confirmed. A 14 Sep 1962 DV production chart indicated that she would join the ensemble cast of Ava Gardner, Peter Ustinov, David Niven, and Robert Wagner.
       Less than a month before the start of production in Rome, Italy, the 30 Oct 1962 ... More Less

Opening credits contain the following inaccuracies: The last name of actress Meri Welles is misspelled “Wells,” while the last name of production supervisor Jack McEdwards is misspelled “McEdward.” McEdwards happened to be director Blake Edwards’ step-father, as noted in a 28 Nov 1962 DV news item.
       The 16 May 1962 Var announced that The Pink Panther would be the first feature film from the newly formed production company of Blake Edwards and producer Martin Jurow. The pair garnered additional production support from the Mirisch Company, which had a long-standing distribution arrangement with United Artists, and two months later, an 11 Jul 1962 Var news brief noted that their G–E Productions had allocated $3 million for The Pink Panther. Production was slated to begin sometime in Nov 1962 in Italy.
       Another item in the 11 Jul 1962 Var suggested that actress Audrey Hepburn would star in the role of “an Indian princess.” Edwards, who directed Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961, see entry), may have underestimated the star’s commitments to other projects. Two weeks later, a 27 Jul 1962 DV brief indicated that actress Nancy Kwan looked likely to play the role. Over the next month, various contemporary sources speculated that Cyd Charisse and Claudia Cardinale were being courted to appear in the film. By Sep 1962, Cardinale’s casting was confirmed. A 14 Sep 1962 DV production chart indicated that she would join the ensemble cast of Ava Gardner, Peter Ustinov, David Niven, and Robert Wagner.
       Less than a month before the start of production in Rome, Italy, the 30 Oct 1962 DV reported that Ava Gardner had been replaced by French supermodel-actress, Capucine. According to DV, Gardner and Edwards “could never reach terms.” Producer Jurow clarified, in a 28 Nov 1962 Var article, that he had dropped the Hollywood star because of her “excessive fringe demands,” including a weekly allowance for what amounted to a personal staff—a chauffeur, secretary, hairdresser, and makeup and wardrobe assistants.
       Soon after Gardner’s departure, Peter Ustinov dropped out of the production, leaving filmmakers scrambling to find a new “Inspector Jacques Clouseau.” Edwards later stated, in the 17 Jan 1964 LAT, that their desperation was short-lived: “The happy idea of Peter Sellers came up. [He] arrived on a weekend in Rome and we were scheduled to shoot on Monday. We went over the script together and out of our conference, the entire concept of the character was changed.” Clouseau, originally conceived as a “straight, sober-sided dignified cop,” became, at Sellers’s urging, a “funny, pathetic, bumbling, lovable” fellow.
       With Sellers in the revised role of Clouseau, casting had to be reconsidered “all the way down the line,” according to a 30 Nov 1962 ^DV news item. The 31 Oct 1962 DV reported that a “high society party-thrower” role had been offered to actress Kay Thompson. However, a conflicting report in the 20 Nov 1962 DV suggested that Hermione Gingold had been tapped to play the “Elsa Maxwell type” cameo. A 30 Nov 1962 DV production chart indicated that filming began 19 Nov 1962. Shortly thereafter, various sources confirmed that Brenda de Banzie had joined the cast as socialite “Angela Dunning.”
       Though pleased to have found Sellers, filmmakers filed a lawsuit against Peter Ustinov for his untimely departure from the project, claiming that their plan to begin filming 5 Nov 1962 had to be postponed while they “reorganized” the production schedule. On 26 Nov 1962, Army Archerd’s “Just for Variety” DV column reported that the Mirisch Company was seeking $200,000 in damages from the actor. The 10 Jan 1963 DV clarified that the actual amount sought was $175,000. President Harold J. Mirisch declared that commitments [to starring roles] needed to be honored, lest the motion picture industry become “seriously impaired” by actors’ whims.
       After several weeks filming at Cinecitta Studios, as well as in and around Rome, cast and crew traveled north in Jan 1963 to Cortina, a posh resort town in the Italian Alps. A news brief in the 22 Jan 1963 DV noted that the company was making the best of the below-freezing temperatures. One month later, the 20 Feb 1963 Var indicated that production in Italy was “winding up,” and that filmmakers planned to go to Paris, France, for “a day or so” of location shooting. Principal photography had concluded by mid-Mar 1963, as evidenced by reports in the 15 Mar 1963 DV, which noted that Jurow and Edwards, as well as actor Robert Wagner, had returned to Los Angeles, CA, and were tending to other industry obligations.
       News briefs in the 27 Aug 1963 and 16 Sep 1963 DV revealed that “sneak” screenings of The Pink Panther were held in Aug, in Los Angeles, and Sep, in New York City. However, the picture’s official theatrical release was pushed to “around” Mar 1964, as noted by an 11 Dec 1963 Var column. United Artists secured Radio City Music Hall for the New York opening, a coup for the studio considering they had not had a film in the prestigious theater since 1950’s The Men. A 27 Feb 1964 LAT news brief announced that the picture would open 20 Mar 1964 at the Hollywood Paramount. The New York opening followed on 23 Apr 1964.
       Reviews were mixed. The 16 Jan 1964 DV acknowledged the “jerky machinations of the plot” and “occasional lapses” of logic, but declared that Sellers’s “sharp performance” as the clumsy Clouseau would someday become a “vintage record of the farcical Sellers at his peak.” The 20 Mar 1964 LAT and 24 Apr 1964 NYT were more dismissive of the nonsensical onscreen antics, particularly when the slapstick elements seemed forced or labored.
       However, critics praised the opening title sequence, which featured an animated feline character, the “Pink Panther,” making mischief with the cast and production credits. The main title sequence was credited onscreen to DePatie–Freleng Enterprises, Inc., a production company recently formed by film editor David H. DePatie and animator Friz Freleng. According to 4 Aug 1964 and 24 Dec 1964 LAT articles, both men worked at Warner Bros. for many years, and had just taken over production of the studio’s commercial and animation divisions when Blake Edwards asked them to devise something for the opening of his film. The result was the sly, debonair Pink Panther. DePatie and Freleng speculated that their work on The Pink Panther added $1.5 million to the picture’s intake at the box office. In the wake of their cartoon character’s successful screen debut, DePatie and Freleng were offered a renewed contract with Warner Bros. and the opportunity to work out of their DePatie–Freleng studios in Burbank, CA, making six short films starring their animated ingénue. United Artists planned to pair each short with an upcoming theatrical release, reviving the trend of showing a stand-alone cartoon prior to the feature presentation.
       Three months after the Mar 1964 opening of The Pink Panther, the Blake Edwards-directed follow-up, A Shot in the Dark (see entry) was released. Edwards acknowledged, in the 17 Jun 1964 LAT, that Sellers’s reimagining of the role of Inspector Clouseau convinced him to incorporate the character into future films. The Pink Panther film franchise grew to include The Return of the Pink Panther (1975, see entry), The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976, see entry), Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978, see entry), Trail of the Pink Panther (1982, see entry), Curse of the Pink Panther (1983, see entry), and Son of the Pink Panther (1993, see entry). Edwards directed all eight of these films, and all feature an animated opening title sequence that, with the exception of A Shot in the Dark, star the animated feline. Composer Henri Mancini wrote the Pink Panther musical scores, retaining the jazz-inflected style he had introduced in the first film. Sellers reprised his role as Inspector Clouseau until his death in 1980. (He appears in Trail of the Pink Panther only because Edwards had enough footage from previous films to edit together a part.)
       Film enthusiasts disagree about whether or not the 1968 feature, Inspector Clouseau, is part of the Pink Panther canon, primarily because neither Edwards nor Sellers were involved in the project. In 2006 and 2009, The Pink Panther and The Pink Panther 2 were released (see entries). Considered a “reboot” of the franchise, the films starred Steve Martin as the bumbling detective.
       Henry Mancini’s music for The Pink Panther was ranked #20 on “One Hundred Years of Film Scores,” AFI’s 2005 list of the twenty-five greatest film scores of all time.
More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
27 Jul 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
24 Aug 1962
p. 12.
Daily Variety
4 Sep 1962
p. 1.
Daily Variety
14 Sep 1962
p. 6.
Daily Variety
30 Oct 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
31 Oct 1962
p. 14.
Daily Variety
13 Nov 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
20 Nov 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
26 Nov 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
28 Nov 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
30 Nov 1962
p. 6, 7.
Daily Variety
10 Jan 1963
p. 1, 4.
Daily Variety
22 Jan 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
15 Mar 1963
p. 2, 6.
Daily Variety
27 Aug 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
16 Sep 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
16 Jan 1964
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
6 Sep 1962
Section C, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
17 Jan 1964
Section C, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
27 Feb 1964
Section C, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
20 Mar 1964
Section D, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
12 Jun 1964
Section D, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
24 Dec 1964
Section C, p. 7.
New York Times
24 Apr 1964
p. 25.
New York Times
4 Aug 1964
p. 19.
Variety
16 May 1962
p. 17.
Variety
11 Jul 1962
p. 23, 36.
Variety
15 Aug 1962
p. 3.
Variety
21 Nov 1962
p. 16.
Variety
28 Nov 1962
p. 3, 16.
Variety
20 Feb 1963
p. 25.
Variety
13 Mar 1963
p. 25.
Variety
30 Oct 1963
p. 22.
Variety
11 Dec 1963
p. 3.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
the Mirisch Company presents
a Blake Edwards Production
A Mirisch--G-E Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Asst cam
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Claudia Cardinale and Capucine's ward principally
Ward consultant
Ward supv
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Hairdressing
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Prod supv
Scr supv
Dial coach
SOURCES
SONGS
"It Had Better Be Tonight" ("Meglio Stasera"), music by Henry Mancini, English lyrics by Johnny Mercer, Italian lyrics by Franco Migliacci, sung by Fran Jeffries, tenor sax solos, Plas Johnson.
DETAILS
Release Date:
20 March 1964
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 20 March 1964
New York opening: 23 April 1964
Production Date:
began 19 November 1962 in Rome, Italy
Copyright Claimant:
Mirisch--G-E Productions
Copyright Date:
18 March 1964
Copyright Number:
LP27578
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
Technicolor®
Widescreen/ratio
Technirama®
Duration(in mins):
113
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
20449
SYNOPSIS

Sir Charles Lytton, who is really the famous jewel thief, the Phantom, wants the Pink Panther, a priceless jewel owned by beautiful Princess Dala. Inspector Jacques Clouseau wants the Phantom, whom he has been chasing unsuccessfully for fifteen years. Clouseau also wants the Phantom's female accomplice, unaware that she is really his own wife, Simone, the Phantom's mistress. Princess Dala visits the ski resort of Cortina, and there Sir Charles, Clouseau, and Simone also appear. George, Sir Charles's nephew, who supposedly has been attending school in America at his uncle's expense but is actually an amateur in the same "profession" as his uncle, also arrives unexpectedly at Cortina. After many complications, Clouseau learns that Sir Charles is the Phantom, but he cannot capture him. Later, when Princess Dala plans a costume party at her villa in Rome, Clouseau warns her that the Phantom will undoubtedly attempt to steal the Panther from the library safe during the party. Sir Charles and George come to the party, both dressed as gorillas, and begin to work on the safe from opposite ends. They crack it simultaneously only to find it empty except for a white glove, the Phantom's trademark. The lights go out and when they come on again, it is announced that the Panther is missing. After a wild car chase, Clouseau apprehends Sir Charles and George. Simone goes to Princess Dala to ask help to free them. At their trial, Clouseau testifies that he was present at each of the Phantom's thefts. Suspicion is thrown on Clouseau as the actual Phantom, and Clouseau is arrested when he pulls a handkerchief from his pocket with the Panther attached to it--the work ... +


Sir Charles Lytton, who is really the famous jewel thief, the Phantom, wants the Pink Panther, a priceless jewel owned by beautiful Princess Dala. Inspector Jacques Clouseau wants the Phantom, whom he has been chasing unsuccessfully for fifteen years. Clouseau also wants the Phantom's female accomplice, unaware that she is really his own wife, Simone, the Phantom's mistress. Princess Dala visits the ski resort of Cortina, and there Sir Charles, Clouseau, and Simone also appear. George, Sir Charles's nephew, who supposedly has been attending school in America at his uncle's expense but is actually an amateur in the same "profession" as his uncle, also arrives unexpectedly at Cortina. After many complications, Clouseau learns that Sir Charles is the Phantom, but he cannot capture him. Later, when Princess Dala plans a costume party at her villa in Rome, Clouseau warns her that the Phantom will undoubtedly attempt to steal the Panther from the library safe during the party. Sir Charles and George come to the party, both dressed as gorillas, and begin to work on the safe from opposite ends. They crack it simultaneously only to find it empty except for a white glove, the Phantom's trademark. The lights go out and when they come on again, it is announced that the Panther is missing. After a wild car chase, Clouseau apprehends Sir Charles and George. Simone goes to Princess Dala to ask help to free them. At their trial, Clouseau testifies that he was present at each of the Phantom's thefts. Suspicion is thrown on Clouseau as the actual Phantom, and Clouseau is arrested when he pulls a handkerchief from his pocket with the Panther attached to it--the work of Simone and Dala. Sir Charles and George are freed and whisked off by Simone to South America. Clouseau, enveloped in the admiration of the crowd attending the trial and basking in the first adulation of his life, protests his innocence less vigorously as he is taken to prison. Sir Charles promises Simone that, as soon as they are safely in South America, he will send a letter to the Italian government clearing the innocent Clouseau. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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