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Jacques Clouseau proved to be such an amusing character (with untapped potential) in his screen debut, that prior to the theatrical release of THE PINK PANTHER, writer/director Blake Edwards immediately devised another adventure for the inept inspector. However, where THE PINK PANTHER is a bedroom farce mixed with elements of a caper movie, A SHOT IN THE DARK ($25) is a pure slapstick comedy that showcases the talents of Peter Sellers as the bumbling Inspector Clouseau. Without a doubt, A SHOT IN THE DARK is finest and funniest of all of Inspector Clouseau’s theatrical outings.

Instead of chasing an infamous jewel thief, the plot of A SHOT IN THE DARK finds Clouseau (accidentally) assigned to a high profile murder investigation. The case seems so simple, that even an idiot could solve it. Well, almost any idiot would be able to solve the case, especially since all of the evidence points to a single suspect who was discovered standing over the body with the smoking pistol still in her hands. But then again, Inspector Clouseau isn’t your average idiot. A SHOT IN THE DARK also stars Elke Sommer as Maria Gambrelli, the beautiful murder suspect whom Clouseau releases from jail, because he is sure that she will lead him to the real culprit. Of course, Clouseau’s actions in the investigation only sever to convince his superiors that he is an even bigger idiot than they initially suspected. A SHOT IN THE DARK marks the first appearance of Herbert Lom Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus, the character that became Clouseau's arch nemesis across the rest the PINK PANTHER series. Lom's performance in A SHOT IN THE DARK rivals that of Peter Sellers for its moments of unbridled hilarity. A SHOT IN THE DARK also introduces the character of Kato (Burt Kwouk), Clouseau's manservant and (unfortunate) sparring partner in the martial arts. George Sanders, Tracy Reed and Graham Stark help to flesh out the cast of A SHOT IN THE DARK.

MGM Home Entertainment have made A SHOT IN THE DARK available in both wide screen and full screen presentations on opposite sides of the DVD. Since Blake Edwards is a master of utilizing the entire 2.35:1 Panavision frame to tell a joke, avoid the horribly cropped full screen version at all costs. Fortunately, A SHOT IN THE DARK has been given a 16:9 enhanced presentation, something that THE PINK PANTHER lacked. So much for consistency. The transfer provides a sharp, pleasing image with good detail. Color reproduction is good considering that DeLuxe film elements from this period usually appear horribly faded. However, saturation is nowhere as intense as it would have been if A SHOT IN THE DARK had been released in Technicolor. The black level is very accurate and the image has consistently good contrast. Digital compression artifacts never really made the presence known.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is very clean and worth amplifying for Henry Mancini’s enchanting score. A French language soundtrack has also been provided on the DVD, along with English and French subtitles. The interactive menus are amusingly designed and feature animation, music and full motion video. Through the menus, one can access all the standard scene and language selection features. A very funny theatrical trailer is provided as the DVD’s only supplement.




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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