Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Revenge of the Pink Panther 1978A Movie A Day Day 9
This is the last Pink Panther Movie that Peter Sellars made while he was alive. As strange as it sounds, there were actually two more films featuring Sellars, that were made after his death. There was apparently enough material from the other 1970s Panther films that they could string some bits together and try to make it into a movie. I never saw any of the "FrankenPanthers" but you can tell from this one that the formula was getting tired. "Revenge" is not a good movie and it is only a mildly entertaining one. These films were the equivalent of the Bond films for United Artists during the 1970s. There was a new one every couple of years and they made a bundle. Also, like the Bond films, they got a little tired and needed some juice. I don't know if Peter Sellars had lived if he could have revived the series, but maybe it is a good thing that they never got the chance to disappoint us again. Take a look at the poster below to see how low they went for a joke that is not even funny. The image is not really intriguing at all and there is nothing in this that sells the movie and it's ideas or story. It is just a title.
It is odd to me that this film falls flat. I remember laughing more when I saw it thirty two years ago in theaters. This is one of the reasons that I enjoy working on this blog. I am refreshed when I get a chance to relive a good or great movie, and I am more centered when my nostalgia for the past is cleared away by the reality I am watching. There are still some slapstick laughs to be had here, but they all seem to be straining to achieve the light touch that was present in some of the other Panther films.The most amusing bits are still Sellar's outrageous accent. Since I have a terrible ear for language, you would think I might miss some of the jokes, but the quirky pronunciation made even a tone deaf person like me smile. The costume jokes are only funny for a second or two, they seem to be pushing too hard; and that comes from someone that thought the floating Hunchback outfit in an earlier film was hysterical. The fight scenes have the right Idea, but the timing is off especially on the set ups. In fact the whole movie's timing is off as you can tell from the pre-title set up that hasn't a single laugh or smile in it. I liked all the actors; Robert Webber is always welcome, and Robert Loggia is so young that I almost did not recognize him. Dyan Cannon plays the sexy comedy woman in the film, a part she did a million times in the seventies. Nothing seems to jell as the movie starts off so seriously that you don't even think of it as a comedy.
Another thing that makes me wonder what went wrong is the quality of the production. It was actually top notch for the kind of movie it was. The Animated title sequence is one of the best, and they don't scrimp on location. It is clear they went to Hong Kong to film the final act. So it is not just a backlot and the actors, there was a lot going for the movie that it does not live up to. Speaking of the title sequence, my daughter asked me as we were watching it today, if the cartoon or the movies came first. I am pretty sure that the animated sequence in the titles of the original Pink Panther back in 1964 were the inspiration for the cartoon that came along in the late sixties and early seventies. I don't remember the cartoon series as being anywhere as near as great as the movie titles were, but it was OK. Let's be honest, Henry Mancini should have been getting half the profits from both the films and the cartoon, because his iconic film score is what make the images memorable. Audiences can hear just a few notes, da dum, da, dum, and they are like Pavlov's dogs, ready to be fed some funny. Unfortunately, all we got here were some leftovers and they were a little stale.