The world's favorite "Pink Panther" super-sleuth is back and at it again in this outrageous comedy caper, starring Alan Arkin as the beloved but brainless Inspector Clouseau. When a nation is in trouble, criminal masterminds don't stand a chance against the French detective with a knack for reckless investigation.
Tension is building at Number Ten Downing Street when it's discovered that the money stolen in the great train robbery is merely operating capital for a bigger criminal plan. Never to fear, Clouseau is here! The bumbling detective sets out on a clumsy crusade to catch the crooks. But the case takes a riotous twist when Clouseau's "face" is seen masquerading from Swiss bank to Swiss bank for the heist of the century. Will Clouseau manage to save the day, or will the case of mistaken identity end his crime fighting forever?
If you're a producer with a couple hit films featuring the same character, it's understandable that you would want to keep the franchise rolling - no matter the costs. Even if that means that your lead actor along with your director and writers don't return. Such is the case with 1968's Inspector Clouseau. After back-to-back hits with The Pink Panther and A Shot In The Dark, audiences wanted more wild and crazy antics from their favorite bumbling French detective - the only problem was star Peter Sellers and writer/director Blake Edwards were too busy. The solution; hire Bud Yorkin to direct and get Alan Arkin to deliver his best Sellers impression.
England's government is in a terrible spot of trouble. A train has been robbed carrying a massive amount of cash. While this heist would be bad enough, Commissioner Braithwaite (Patrick Cargill) and Superintendent Weaver (Frank Finlay) of Scotland Yard believe this heist was merely intended to fund an even bigger scheme. Believing Scotland Yard inept at finding the culprits, the government has turned to France to send them their best detective from Paris Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Alan Arkin). While the world may believe Clouseau to be an eccentric but brilliant detective, Braithwaite and Finlay know better and with Clouseau on the case, the United Kingdom may not survive the detective's bumbling antics.
When the 2006 reboot The Pink Panther rolled around, all you needed to do was watch Inspector Clouseau to know that picking up this franchise without the combination of Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers was a less than brilliant idea. It doesn't matter who you cast as the dimwit detective. It doesn't matter what otherwise successful director you hire to direct. The results would always be an unfortunate uninspired imitation of a better film. That is the trap that Inspector Clouseau falls into. The deck was stacked against director Bud Yorkin and new star Alan Arkin from the very beginning. While Yorkin does his best to keep the pace fluid and jaunty while Arkin dials up his manic comedic energy, the endeavor just doesn't work. It's almost like watching a community theater troop's performance of Sweeney Todd, they hit some of the right notes, they put on a good show, but it's just not the same.
That isn't to say that Inspector Clouseau isn't without its share of laughs. Arkin does pull off a natural ineptitude and there are many gags that stick the landing. Unfortunately, there are also long stretches without any laughs of any kind. Part of the issue at hand is Yorkin just didn't know when to cut the joke off. Often a lot of the gags found within Inspector Clouseau last entirely too long without any genuine setup so things feel just like manic silliness. However, the one gag that had me rolling involves Alan Arkin's Clouseau and Frank Finlay's Weaver playing a game of jacks on a train. The setup and payoff are perfect. Had this film entertained a few more scenes like the one I described, the film would probably be held in better esteem than it currently is.
Of all of the Sellers-free Clouseau films, Inspector Clouseau fares the best. There is a decent plot and some good laughs spread throughout the film. I appreciated Arkin's take on Clouseau by doing his best to play things similarly to Seller's take while also giving the inept detective a little bit of confidence by acting like he's ten steps ahead when in reality he's about twenty paces behind. It was a good effort, but it comes under the strain of following someone else's successful footsteps. Inspector Clouseau doesn't always work, but when it does, it's pretty funny stuff.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Inspector Clouseau sleuths it's way onto Blu-ray thanks to Kino Lorber through their Studio Classics label. Pressed onto a Region A BD-25 disc, the disc is housed in a standard sturdy Blu-ray case. Also included is a blooklet containing cover artwork for Kino Lorber Studio Classics releases. The disc loads directly to a static image main menu with traditional navigation options.
The packaging for this release of Inspector Clouseau doesn't indicate the vintage of the HD master, but it must have been fairly recent as this 1080p 2.35:1 transfer looks pretty damn impressive. Finer details are apparent throughout facial features, clothing, and production design is up for inspection. The makeup work for Arkin later in the film during several key plot points is particularly impressive. Colors are solid all around with primaries enjoying a nice amount of pop - reds are especially prominent without pushing things into the pink. Flesh tones are nice and healthy throughout. Black levels are strong with a nice inky presence that gives the image a notable sense of depth. Print condition is on point for a film of this vintage with only negligible amounts of speckling throughout the film's run.
Inspector Clouseau comes packaged with a decent but uninspired English DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio track. Pretty much everything is on the nose. Dialogue comes through crystal clear as its given prominence over everything else in the mix. Background noise and atmospherics are minimal - just enough to set the scene without much depth. Sound effects, in general, tend to favor the cartoonish side of the film with gags getting dialed up a notch or two above normal to heighten the effect. Bits involving a laser and another scene with a tape recorder are key examples of this. Hiss is present throughout, most notable during quieter scenes, but it doesn't distract from the rest of the presentation.
Aside from an informative and engaging audio commentary from film historian William Patrick Maynard, this disc's bonus features package is made up of Kino Lorber Studio Classics standard trailer gallery.
Audio Commentary featuring film historian William Patrick Maynard
Theatrical Trailer (SD 2:12)
Son of the Pink Panther (SD 1:09)
Curse of the Pink Panther (HD 1:32)
After the Fox (HD 2:49)
The Russians Are Coming The Russians Are Coming (SD 4:29)
Taken as a whole, Inspector Clouseau isn't a bad movie, it's just not necessary. Had this been its own thing and not tried to piggyback on the success of the previous two Black Edwards and Peter Sellers films, Alan Arkin's version of a bumbling dimwit detective might have proved to be something special. As it stands, it only draws comparisons to the previous films and the better films that would follow in the franchise. It's a watchable movie, there are some laughs to be enjoyed. Kino Lorber Studio Classics has done a fine job of bringing this film to Blu-ray with a strong video transfer, a solid audio mix, and an audio commentary to round out the bonus features. It's tough to recommend Inspector Clouseau for a blind buy, but fans will appreciate this release. Worth a look.