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While not as slapstick laden as the later entries in the series, THE PINK PANTHER ($25) remains a marvelous introduction to Peter Sellers' best known character- the bumbling French police Inspector Jacques Clouseau. Not knowing that he was going to create a cottage industry for himself and Peter Sellers, writer director Blake Edwards fashioned a film that is part caper comedy and part sex farce.

The plot of THE PINK PANTHER concerns the hunt for an infamous jewel thief known as The Phantom. Inspector Clouseau comes to suspect that The Phantom is international playboy Sir Charles Litton (David Niven). By using The Pink Panther (one of the world's largest and most valuable diamonds) as bait, Clouseau hopes to capture Sir Charles by dangling the irresistible prize in front of him. However, unbeknownst to Clouseau, his wife Simone (Capucine) has been having an affair with Sir Charles, and apprising him of her husband's every step. THE PINK PANTHER also stars Claudia Cardinale as Princess Dala, the owner of The Pink Panther, and Robert Wagner as Sir Charles' nephew George Litton, who just happens to take an interest in his uncle's mistress. THE PINK PANTHER lacks the laugh out loud hysterics of the later films in the series, but it is a charming introduction to Inspector Clouseau and Peter Sellers does provide a number of hilarious moments.

MGM Home Entertainment has made THE PINK PANTHER available on DVD in both wide screen and full screen presentations. The full screen version crops away so much of the film's Technirama 2.35:1 image that it isn't worth anyone's time, simply because director Blake Edwards uses the entire wide screen frame for sight gags. While the wide screen presentation lacks the 16:9 anamorphic component, it is a huge improvement over the horrendously cropped version. The Letterboxed transfer itself is nice, but I'm sure a new anamorphic enhanced one could have looked much better. Still, the image is sharp and detailed. Film grain is noticeable in a few places, but never becomes bothersome. Colors reproduction is quite good, giving one an inkling of the splendor of seeing an original Technicolor, Technirama print of THE PINK PANTHER. The well-saturated hues usually don’t display any traces of chroma noise, plus the hotter hues remain very stable in appearance. Blacks are true black and the image contains solid contrast.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is of the two-channel variety, offering clean and crisp sound within the limits of 1960's recording technology. Voices are always intelligible, but the music isn't what one would call high fidelity. It's too bad Henry Mancini's now classic theme music couldn't have been enhanced for this presentation, but I guess that is what compact discs are for. English and French subtitles have been encoded into the DVD.

The interactive menus contain a bit of animation, music and have a somewhat humorous style. Through the menus one can access the standard scene and language selection features, as well as a theatrical trailer.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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