Curse of the Pink Panther (1983)

PG | 111 mins | Comedy, Mystery | 12 August 1983

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HISTORY

       The 17 Nov 1981 HR announced that writer-director-producer Blake Edwards would begin production on Curse of the Pink Panther at Pinewood Studios in England, sometime in spring 1982. Ted Wass, a “virtually unknown American actor,” was cast in the lead role. British comedian Dudley Moore had also been considered for the part. On 25 Jan 1982, HR reported that principal photography would begin Feb 1982, with actors Robert Wagner and David Niven reprising their characters from the The Pink Panther (1964, see entry). British actress Joanna Lumley joined the cast, receiving “her first star billing” in a theatrical release. The 24 Feb 1982 Var announced that Edwards was directing another “Pink Panther” sequel, Trail of the Pink Panther, concurrently with Curse of the Pink Panther. The former was scheduled for a 10 Dec 1982 release, the latter for summer 1983.
       According to the 25 Apr 1982 LAT, Edwards was offered the opportunity to continue the series, and decided to introduce the blundering detective “Officer Clifton Sleigh,” as its new protagonist, rather than recast “Inspector Clouseau,” the character created by the late actor, Peter Sellers. Although Edwards considered British actor Rowan Atkinson, as well as Dudley Moore, he chose Wass based on his performances in the television comedy series, Soap (ABC, 1977-1981). Edwards collaborated with his son, Geoffrey, on the screenplay, which was written at the same time as Trail of the Pink Panther, to create a seamless transition between “Clouseau” and “Sleigh.” The two films were made ... More Less

       The 17 Nov 1981 HR announced that writer-director-producer Blake Edwards would begin production on Curse of the Pink Panther at Pinewood Studios in England, sometime in spring 1982. Ted Wass, a “virtually unknown American actor,” was cast in the lead role. British comedian Dudley Moore had also been considered for the part. On 25 Jan 1982, HR reported that principal photography would begin Feb 1982, with actors Robert Wagner and David Niven reprising their characters from the The Pink Panther (1964, see entry). British actress Joanna Lumley joined the cast, receiving “her first star billing” in a theatrical release. The 24 Feb 1982 Var announced that Edwards was directing another “Pink Panther” sequel, Trail of the Pink Panther, concurrently with Curse of the Pink Panther. The former was scheduled for a 10 Dec 1982 release, the latter for summer 1983.
       According to the 25 Apr 1982 LAT, Edwards was offered the opportunity to continue the series, and decided to introduce the blundering detective “Officer Clifton Sleigh,” as its new protagonist, rather than recast “Inspector Clouseau,” the character created by the late actor, Peter Sellers. Although Edwards considered British actor Rowan Atkinson, as well as Dudley Moore, he chose Wass based on his performances in the television comedy series, Soap (ABC, 1977-1981). Edwards collaborated with his son, Geoffrey, on the screenplay, which was written at the same time as Trail of the Pink Panther, to create a seamless transition between “Clouseau” and “Sleigh.” The two films were made on a $17 million budget, sharing many of the same sets, the same locations, and several cast members, in an effort to contain expenses. The sets were to be placed in storage for future “Pink Panther” sequels, which Edwards intended to make “every three years.”
       The 3 Mar 1982 HR reported that American actress Patricia Davis, daughter of then-President Ronald Reagan, was barred from entering England due to British Equity’s quota on foreign actors. According to the 13 Apr 1982 HR, she joined the production in Valencia during the festival known as “Las Fallas,” accompanied by a security force of twenty U.S. Treasury Department agents and members of the Spanish Policia Nacional. No reporters were allowed on set, nor were any interviews granted. Once Valencia photography was completed, the production returned to Pinewood Studios while the second unit filmed on the Spanish island of Ibiza. The twenty-two-week schedule also included locations in Nice, France, and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. Production notes in AMPAS library files stated that the city of Nice cordoned off “about 10 percent of the town” to accommodate a car chase sequence.
       The 3 Jun 1982 DV reported that principal photography was completed 2 Jun 1982 in Brooklyn Heights, NY. The final scenes on the schedule introduced Wass as “Officer Clifton Sleigh,” whom the actor was expected to play in five ensuing films. Also in the cast was Edwards’ physician, Herb Tanney, credited as “Sidi Bin Tanney.”
       Articles in the 10 Aug 1983 DV and the 13 Aug 1983 LAT revealed that impressionist Rich Little supplied much of Niven’s dialogue for both Curse of the Pink Panther and Trail of the Pink Panther. Niven’s speech was impaired by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. In order to prevent a lapse in demand for the actor’s services, Little’s participation was kept secret until after Niven’s death on 29 Jul 1983.
       The 17 Aug 1983 Var review stated that the character, “Inspector Clouseau,” was played by actor Roger Moore, but he was credited onscreen with the pseudonym “Turk Thrust II.” The alias was a reference to the first “Pink Panther” sequel, A Shot in the Dark (1964, see entry), in which actor Bryan Forbes was credited onscreen as “Turk Thrust.” The 14 Jul 1982 DV stated that Henry Bricusse was to write lyrics for composer Henry Mancini’s film score, but his name does not appear in onscreen credits.
       Advertising campaigns for Curse of the Pink Panther included a promotional contest sponsored by Whoppers candy and the Los Angeles, CA, radio station KROQ FM, advertised in the 23 Jun 1983 LAT. Prizes consisted of a five-day trip to New York City for two, and tickets to a special preview screening. Another promotion, reported in the 18 Jun 1983 LAHExam, was sponsored by the 7-Eleven convenience store chain, which introduced “Pink Panther ice cream on a stick.” A news item in the 29 Mar 1983 HR announced the picture’s “Royal Premiere” in London, England, on 21 Jul 1983.
       Critics were divided on Curse of the Pink Panther. Although the 13 Aug 1983 LAT called the film “simple, unadulterated fun,” the 13 Aug 1983 NYT suggested that it had “very little reason to exist.” However, several reviews favorably compared Wass to the late comedian, Harold Lloyd. The review in the Oct 1983 Box blamed the film’s modest opening weekend on producer-distributor MGM/UA Entertainment Company, citing an inadequate advertising campaign.
       On 28 Sep 1983, DV reported that Edwards filed a $180 million lawsuit against MGM/UA and its chairman-chief executive officer, Frank Rothman, for conspiring to “frustrate and prevent” the film’s commercial success. The suit was filed through Britain’s Jewel Productions and Edwards’ Geoffrey Productions. The suit charged the defendants with violating a verbal agreement to allot $3.5 million for advertising after Edwards “and agents of his related companies” gave testimony in a contested arbitration between MGM/UA and its former chief executive officer, David Begelman, that contradicted testimony given by Rothman. Edwards alleged that the advertising budget was reduced by half as an act of retribution by the studio. The plaintiffs sought a new distributor after learning of the smaller budget, but MGM/UA would not relinquish its distribution rights. The studio was also charged with not advertising the picture during “the final two or three weeks of release,” in addition to issuing it as a second feature on a double bill at some venues, and removing it entirely from others. According to the article, the picture earned $1,641,182 from 812 theaters in its opening weekend. By the following weekend, seventy theaters had cancelled the film, and gross earnings were reduced by almost fifty percent. No further effort was made by the studio to track receipts by the third week.
       In the 29 Sep 1983 HR, Rothman described the charges as “ludicrous,” asserting that MGM/UA would never sabotage the success of a film that it financed. The 30 Sep 1983 LAT stated that Rothman considered the promotion and distribution of the picture to be suited to its “anticipated level of performance.” The article suggested that this was a reference to the disappointing receipts generated by Trail of the Pink Panther, and concluded that the studio had little faith in the production from the outset.
       On 18 May 1984, LAT reported that Edwards filed a $400 million libel suit against MGM/UA, in response to an action filed by the studio on 16 Apr 1983. MGM/UA brought a $340 million suit against the filmmaker, which alleged “fraudulent overspending” on the production of the last two “Pink Panther” films, and on Victor/Victoria (1982, see entry). The details of the suit appeared in the 17 Apr 1983 NYT, triggering the allegation of libel from Edwards. The outcome of this case has not been determined.
      End credits conclude with the statements: “The producers wish to thank the following companies and organizations for their collaboration in the making of this film: Trans World Airlines, Hitachi Corporation, Renault/American Motors, Paris-Sheraton Hotel, Hyatt Regency Hotel-Nice, H. Stern Jewelry, Budget Rent-A-Car, Aeroport de Paris, Mairie de Nice, Mairie d'Antibes, Animal Action”; “Home video games starring the Pink Panther are now available in stores everywhere"; and, “Made by Jewel Productions Limited at Pinewood Studios, Iver, Bucks, England, and on location in New York; Ibiza and Valencia, Spain; Paris and the South of France.”
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Oct 1983
pp. 51-52.
Daily Variety
24 Nov 1981.
---
Daily Variety
11 Feb 1982.
---
Daily Variety
14 Jul 1982.
---
Daily Variety
10 Aug 1983.
---
Daily Variety
28 Sep 1983
p. 1, 17.
Daily Variety
29 Sep 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Nov 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jan 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Mar 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Mar 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Apr 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Mar 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Aug 1983
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Sep 1983
p. 1, 17.
LAHExam
18 Jun 1983.
---
LAHExam
29 Sep 1983.
---
Los Angeles Times
25 Apr 1982
Part VI, p. 24, 25.
Los Angeles Times
23 Jun 1983.
---
Los Angeles Times
13 Aug 1983
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
30 Sep 1983
Part VI, p. 1, 18.
Los Angeles Times
18 May 1984
Part VI, p. 1, 8.
New York Times
17 Apr 1983.
---
New York Times
13 Aug 1983
p. 13.
Variety
24 Feb 1982.
---
Variety
19 May 1982.
---
Variety
17 Aug 1983
p. 23, 28.
Variety
25 Oct 1983
p. 6, 26.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
and introducing
as
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
United Artists Presents
Blake Edwards Presents
A Titan Productions Feature
From B.E.E.
from MGM/UA Entertainment Co.
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
Dir, 2d unit
1st asst dir, 2d unit
Prod mgr, 2d unit
Prod mgr, French unit
1st asst dir, French unit
Prod mgr, Spanish unit
1st asst dir, Spanish unit
Prod mgr, U.S. unit
Prod mgr, U.S. unit
Prod mgr, U.S. unit
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Focus puller
Clapper/Loader
Cam grip
Stills photog
Elec supv
Cam, 2d unit
Cam op, 2d unit
Focus puller, 2d unit
Clapper/Loader, 2d unit
Cam grip, 2d unit
Stills photog, 2d unit
Elec supv, 2d unit
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Supv art dir
Art dir
Art dir
Art dept, French unit
FILM EDITORS
Ed (English)
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Const mgr
Const mgr
Prop master
Standby props
Chargehand propman, 2d unit
Propman, 2d unit
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Ward mistress
Ward master, 2d unit
MUSIC
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Sd eng
Sd eff des by
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Chief dubbing mixer
Dubbing mixer
Dubbing mixer
Sd mixer, 2d unit
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Spec eff supv, 2d unit
MAKEUP
Hair des consultant
of Michaeljohn
Chief hairdresser
Chief hairdresser
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairdresser, 2d unit
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Asst casting dir
Casting consultation
Casting consultation
Prod supv
Dir of pub
Prod buyer
Prod accountant
Cont asst
Prod asst
Asst to Mr. Edwards
Asst to Mr. Adams
Prod assoc
Loc mgr, 2d unit
Cont, 2d unit
Casting dir, French unit
Pub relations, Spanish unit
Prod supv, U.S. unit
STAND INS
Stunt arranger
Stunt asst
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Parascender
Parascender
Parascender
Karate scenes choreog by
ANIMATION
Title anim wrt and dir by
Title anim wrt and dir by
SOURCES
MUSIC
"You Do Something To Me," by Cole Porter
"Moon River," by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer.
DETAILS
Release Date:
12 August 1983
Premiere Information:
London premiere: 21 July 1983
Los Angeles opening: 12 August 1983
New York opening: week of 13 August 1983
Production Date:
February--2 June 1982
Copyright Claimant:
Titan Productions
Copyright Date:
7 October 1983
Copyright Number:
PA196421
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Color by Technicolor®
Lenses/Prints
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
111
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26804
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Thief Gino Rossi steals the “Pink Panther” diamond from a museum in the Middle Eastern country of Lugash and offers it to Countess Chandra at her private spa on the island of Majorca. However, the sale is interrupted by Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau of the Sûreté, France’s national police force. When Rossi takes aim at the inspector, Chandra shoots the thief dead and holds Clouseau prisoner. The French government is shaken by the disappearance of its greatest detective, and assigns Chief Inspector Dreyfus, aided by “Aldous,” the Huxley 600 super computer, to find a suitable candidate to solve the mystery. However, Dreyfus is overjoyed to be free of the dimwitted Clouseau and sabotages the computer, programming it to determine the world’s least capable detective. Aldous selects Officer Clifton Sleigh, a well-meaning but inept New York City policeman. Clifton’s beleaguered commander, Lieutenant Palmyra, is incredulous, but gladly consigns the city’s worst detective to the Sûreté. Meanwhile, a group of Mafia bosses celebrate their improved fortunes since Clouseau’s disappearance, and their leader, Bruno, assures the inspector’s permanent absence by hiring an assassin to kill Clifton before he leaves the U.S. However, Clifton proves to be a difficult target, and the gunman falls to his death while taking aim. Another killer awaits Clifton at the airport in Paris, but he trips and falls on his own knife. When Clifton enters Dreyfus’s office, he bumps into the desk, which pushes the inspector through the open window and into the concrete fishpond below. While Dreyfus recovers from his injuries, Clifton breaks into Clouseau’s apartment, now a museum dedicated to the detective, and is ... +


Thief Gino Rossi steals the “Pink Panther” diamond from a museum in the Middle Eastern country of Lugash and offers it to Countess Chandra at her private spa on the island of Majorca. However, the sale is interrupted by Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau of the Sûreté, France’s national police force. When Rossi takes aim at the inspector, Chandra shoots the thief dead and holds Clouseau prisoner. The French government is shaken by the disappearance of its greatest detective, and assigns Chief Inspector Dreyfus, aided by “Aldous,” the Huxley 600 super computer, to find a suitable candidate to solve the mystery. However, Dreyfus is overjoyed to be free of the dimwitted Clouseau and sabotages the computer, programming it to determine the world’s least capable detective. Aldous selects Officer Clifton Sleigh, a well-meaning but inept New York City policeman. Clifton’s beleaguered commander, Lieutenant Palmyra, is incredulous, but gladly consigns the city’s worst detective to the Sûreté. Meanwhile, a group of Mafia bosses celebrate their improved fortunes since Clouseau’s disappearance, and their leader, Bruno, assures the inspector’s permanent absence by hiring an assassin to kill Clifton before he leaves the U.S. However, Clifton proves to be a difficult target, and the gunman falls to his death while taking aim. Another killer awaits Clifton at the airport in Paris, but he trips and falls on his own knife. When Clifton enters Dreyfus’s office, he bumps into the desk, which pushes the inspector through the open window and into the concrete fishpond below. While Dreyfus recovers from his injuries, Clifton breaks into Clouseau’s apartment, now a museum dedicated to the detective, and is attacked by Cato, Clouseau’s manservant. Clifton defeats Cato, who refers the detective to Professor Auguste Balls, the creator of Clouseau’s disguises and the last known person to see him alive. Clifton goes to the professor’s shop, and though Balls has no information on Clouseau, he does offer the detective his latest invention, the Instant Companion, an inflatable, lifelike female doll. Another attempt on Clifton’s life only stiffens his resolve, and he notifies Dreyfus that he will begin his investigation at the theft scene in Lugash. The President of Lugash, who has already spent the insurance money from the stolen diamond, is forewarned of Clifton’s arrival and instructs his Secret Police to send the detective back to France before he can collect any evidence. From her private spa on the island of Majorca, Chandra follows Clifton’s progress with amusement, and shares the news with Clouseau, whose face is obscured by bandages following plastic surgery. Clifton’s next destination is Nice on the French Riviera, where he meets Sir Charles Litton, his wife, Lady Simone Litton, and their son, George. The detective’s clumsiness prompts the Littons to ask if he is related to Clouseau. Clifton denies any relation, recalling that the President of Lugash posed the same question. Sir Charles admits to being interrogated by Clouseau shortly after the robbery, but denies any guilt, along with the rumor that he is the brilliant jewel thief known as “The Phantom,” and that George is his successor. He then advises Clifton to continue his investigation in Valencia, Spain. Clifton hires a taxicab to bring him to his hotel, but soon discovers Bruno’s henchmen in pursuit. After barely escaping with his life, Clifton evades the gangsters with the help of his Instant Companion, which creates the illusion of a young couple on vacation. However, a misplaced cigarette causes an air leak in the doll, and Clifton returns to his hotel to reinflate his “companion” with a gas pipe, while he updates Dreyfus by telephone. Clifton survives the resulting explosion and travels to Valencia, where a fiesta is underway. Bruno’s men continue their pursuit, but Clifton eludes them in the crowded streets and takes refuge in a nightclub, where he meets Juleta Shane, a young Englishwoman with an aptitude for martial arts. Together they subdue the gangsters and make their way back to the hotel, where Juleta tries to seduce Clifton. Meanwhile, Dreyfus observes the couple from a nearby window and telephones Valencia police chief Vichila, saying that Clifton is an imposter. Juleta is shot with a tranquilizer dart by an unseen assailant, and Vichila arrives moments later to arrest Clifton. The police chief informs Clifton that his companion is actually Julie Morgan, Countess Chandra’s personal secretary. As Clifton escapes into a crowd of revelers, George drives past and offers the detective a ride to the Litton yacht. The next morning, Clifton joins the Littons as they sail to Majorca, while Chief Vichila advises Chandra to expect a visit from the detective. Unable to reach the spa from the coast, Clifton parascends over the structure, but is shot down by the wheelchair-bound Dreyfus, who is driven over a cliff by the gun’s recoil. Unfazed by Clifton’s crash-landing through her stained-glass ceiling, Chandra invites the detective to join her and her “lover” for a drink. Clifton is awe-struck by Clouseau’s resemblance to actor Roger Moore, and overlooks the inspector’s French accent and profound stupidity. Chandra convinces Clifton that Clouseau, under the alias of the late "Gino Rossi," visited the spa a year earlier before traveling to Madrid for plastic surgery. Clifton notifies the Sûreté of his findings and returns to Paris. Meanwhile, Chandra and Clouseau open their safe to gaze at the Pink Panther, but find only a white glove in its place. At Sûreté headquarters, Dreyfus declares the case closed after determining that Clouseau, posing as Rossi, stole the diamond. Relieved to have Clouseau out of his life, Dreyfus sets fire to the inspector’s dossier, but the flames quickly engulf his desk, and Clifton comes to the rescue with a fire hose. The force of the water blasts the inspector through the open window and into the concrete fishpond below. On the Litton yacht, George admires the Pink Panther, while Sir Charles comments on the disappearance of his one white glove. Simone hints that she is continuing the legacy of “The Phantom.” +

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.