THE PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN
With The Pink Panther Strikes Again here, director Blake Edwards seems determined to let loose all restraints on the series, sending its already whacked-out level of absurdity totally into orbit at times. The Quasimodo disguise sequence half of which has been set up to allow Peter Sellers to conduct an outrageous pun, moaning the bells, the bells as the phone starts to ring and which ends with Sellers floating out a window on the end of his overinflated blow-up hump while hanging onto the telephone cord is one such moment. Sellers does his bumbling totally unaware routine over again with great deadpan panache. There is an hysterical sequence with him trying to conduct an investigation after getting his hand stuck inside the gauntlet and ball of a suit of armour; or his various attempts to enter the castle; and the sequence with he and Herbert Lom getting high on laughing gas. This time Herbert Lom is determined to have as much fun as Sellers. His role is the only one that has actually developed throughout the series here he becomes a demented parody of a James Bond super-villain.
Yet for all the fun that everybody clearly has, The Pink Panther Strikes Again never quite succeeds in scaling the slapstick heights of pieces like the lightbulb sequence in Return of the Pink Panther. Most of the Oktoberfest sequences and certainly all of the sequences with Lesley-Anne Down and Jarvis the butler could have been trimmed down, while the film peters out at the climax.
The series for the first time engages in some real world satire the US Secretary of State looks suspiciously like Henry Kissinger and the President is modelled on then US President Gerald Ford. The credits sequence is playfully amusing with the animated Pink Panther turning into a Hitchcock silhouette, Count Dracula, Batman, King Kong, Julie Andrews swirling across the hills in The Sound of Music (1965), and appearing in a Keystone Kops-like number and a Singin in the Rain sequence. (For the Batman and silent film pastiches, the familiar Pink Panther theme amusingly parodies the theme for the Batman tv series (1966-8) and switches to the speeded-up music associated with silent films). At the end of the film when Sellers, Lesley-Anne Down and Burt Kwouk are blown into the river, an animated Clouseau makes his way to the surface and a giant Pink Panther shark appears beneath him in a parody of the Jaws (1975) poster.
Blake Edwards had a long career directing comedies, including the likes of Breakfast at Tiffanys (1962), The Great Race (1965), 10 (1979) and Victor/Victoria (1982). His only other genre film was the bodyswap comedy Switch (1991). He did however appear during his earlier career as an actor in the supernatural revenant film Strangler of the Swamp (1946).