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  Curse of the Pink Panther The Replacement ClouseauBuy this film here.
Year: 1983
Director: Blake Edwards
Stars: David Niven, Robert Wagner, Herbert Lom, Joanna Lumley, Capucine, Robert Loggia, Harvey Korman, Burt Kwouk, Ted Wass, Roger Moore, Leslie Ash, Graham Stark, André Maranne, Peter Arne, Michael Elphick, William Hootkins, Denise Crosby, Liz Smith, Bill Nighy
Genre: Comedy
Rating:  3 (from 2 votes)
Review: The priceless Pink Panther diamond has been stolen yet again, and nobody has a clue as to where it may have gone - nobody except Inspector Clouseau who is on its trail, but now he himself has disappeared as well, leading to international interest as to his whereabouts. Back in Paris, Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) is secretly delighted that his old adversary has apparently gone, but has to conceal this and spearhead the operation to track Clouseau down. A supercomputer is employed to pick the best detective for the job, but Dreyfus has ideas of how to sabotage it and guarantee he is never found...

Well, it shouldn't have been too difficult to do that because Peter Sellers, the man who brought Clouseau to the screen, had died three years before this film was released so the chances of him returning were doubtful to say the least. Not that this stopped writer and director Blake Edwards, who either wanted to give Sellers a decent send off or wished to sustain his own career by flogging a dead horse for as long as possible, depending on how charitable you are towards the Pink Panther movies that arrived post-Sellers. This wasn't even the first of them, as two of these were shot back to back without checking if anyone was interested in seeing any more.

As it turned out, not too many were, yet after a few years went by Curse and its predecessor Trail of the Pink Panther began to attract what could best be described as morbid interest, with some comparing this double bill to Plan 9 from Outer Space thanks to the fact that its star was no longer with us, never mind around to reap its dubious benefits. In truth, Trail is the more disturbing of the two as outtakes of Sellers were used to make it look as if Clouseau was still going strong, but Curse has its moments of unintentional bad taste as well. It was plainly set out to create a new Clouseau-like bumbling investigator, a bid that notably failed.

The man stepping into the deceased's shoes was sitcom star Ted Wass, who had made a name for himself as the handsome but hapless Danny on cult sensation Soap, and he did his best to establish himself as a movie star with this, but it was clearly a dog of a role for anyone, even someone who had enjoyed more success in that arena. Wass stumbles and fumbles his way through the part as expected of him, but it's merely stating the obvious to say he was no substitute for the real thing and you find yourself comparing him unfavourably to his predecessor in every scene he appears. Surrounding him is a list of stars who come across as either needing the work or are doing Edwards a favour by showing up.

That's not to say that there isn't anything of interest here, it's just that you'd be hard pressed to find many who would admit it. Clouseau has meant to have had plastic surgery so is played by a double in bandages until the big reveal and he's transformed into a big star of another series, a surprise guest who shows little aptitude for pratfalls. Before that, you can sit there and wonder "what were they thinking?" as Lom is physically assaulted in the name of comedy, Joanna Lumley treats us to a topless shot as she gets out of a mud bath, and Leslie Ash demonstrates her karate skills in a scene which bizarrely does not feature Burt Kwouk (although he does appear elsewhere). Of course, the whole thing is bizarre from start to finish, with even the customary cartoon titles offputting, and Sellers making an appearance as a succession of waxworks. But for connoisseurs of the plain misguided, Curse has an awful fascination - and this wasn't the last of them, either. Music by Henry Mancini.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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