'Curse of the Pink Panther' - the Film Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

'Curse of the Pink Panther' - the Film

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The Pink Panther Films
The Pink Panther (1964) | A Shot In The Dark | Inspector Clouseau
The Return of the Pink Panther | The Pink Panther Strikes Again | Revenge of the Pink Panther
Trail of the Pink Panther | Curse of the Pink Panther | Son of the Pink Panther

Valencia Police Chief: Is that Slay as in to kill?
Sergeant Clifton Sleigh: No. That's Sleigh as in one horse open...'


Previously in Trail of the Pink Panther the Pink Panther was stolen and Inspector Clouseau disappeared while flying from London to Lugash, on the orders of General Bufoni. Now, one year later, the French President has decided to invite the world's greatest detective to find Clouseau, and orders Dreyfus to use Aldous, an advanced computer, to discover who the world's best detective is.

Dreyfus, fearing that Clouseau could return and drive him insane, hacks the computer and instead programs it to choose the world's worst detective. New York's Detective Sergeant Sleigh is named; he flies to France and promptly demonstrates to Dreyfus that he is just as accident prone as Clouseau by sending Dreyfus directly to hospital.

Sleigh interviews Clouseau's closest friends and acquaintances, including Cato and Balls, visits the scene of the Pink Panther theft in Lugash and follows advice from the Lytton family to fly first to Valencia and later to Majorca to investigate a Countess Chandra. Meanwhile the French criminal underworld decide that they do not want to have Clouseau back and so attempt to kill Sleigh. The Lugash secret police also decide to kill Sleigh in order to ensure that they do not have to return the Pink Panther's insurance money.

Who is the mysterious Countess Chandra? Why are the Lyttons being so helpful? For how long will Dreyfus remain sane? Who is the mysterious figure with an ice-bucket on his head? Desperate for a chance to finally prove himself, what conclusions will Sleigh draw?


Characters and actors in Bold appeared in other films in the series.

Chief Inspector Charles LaRousse DreyfusHerbert Lom
Sir Charles LyttonDavid Niven1
Lady Simone LyttonCapucine
George LyttonRobert Wagner
Countess ChandraJoanna Lumley
Bruno LangoisRobert Loggia
Professor Auguste BallsHarvey Korman
Cato FongBurt Kwouk
Sergeant Clifton SleighTed Wass
Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau Turk Thrust II2
Sergeant François DuvalAndré Maranne
Julie 'Juleta Shane' MorganLeslie Ash
WaiterGraham Stark
Mr ChongEd Parker
Taxi DriverWilliam Hootkins
DeniseDenise Crosby
Lugash Secret PolicemanHerb 'Sidi Bin' Tanney
General BufoniPeter Arne
Marta BallsLiz Smith
CunnyDanny Schiller
ENT3 DoctorBill Nighy
Lieutenant PalmyraPat Corley
CharlieJoseph Morton
French PresidentLawrence Davidson
Huxley Aldous 6000 Computer (voice)Geoffrey Edwards
DaveDonald Sumpter
Michelle ChauvinPatti Davis
Gino RossiChristopher Reich

As this film was made at the same time as Trail of the Pink Panther, many characters appear in both films, even down to minor characters such as Taxi Driver and Denise.

Joanna Lumley, best known as Purdey in The New Avengers and Sapphire in Sapphire and Steel as well as appearing in sitcom Absolutely Fabulous and championing Gurkha rights, had bizarrely been a different character in Trail of the Pink Panther. Once again as David Niven had lost his voice due to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Rich Little dubbed Niven's lines.

Leslie Ash is most famous for her starring role in British sitcom Men Behaving Badly. Bill Nighy, famous for films such as Love, Actually, and his appearances as Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean films and Slartibartfast in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy has a 'blink and you'll miss him' part. Pat Corley had frequently appeared in American sitcom Cheers. Patti Davis is most famous for being the daughter of American President and former actor Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy Davis. Peter Arne, who had been Colonel Sharki of the Lugash Secret Police in The Return of the Pink Panther, returns as the similar General Bufoni for the second time. This was his last film, with Arne dying shortly before its release.

As in previous Pink Panther films, the female characters turn up when needed and then promptly disappear, never to be mentioned again – these films don't even attempt to pass the Bechdel Test!

The Making of Curse of the Pink Panther

At the same time as making Trail of the Pink Panther Blake Edwards made this film. The name, Curse of the Pink Panther had previously been used as a working title for Revenge of the Pink Panther. This was intended to reboot the series with a new incompetent detective, American Sergeant Clifton Sleigh, who was to be as accident prone as Inspector Clouseau. This would take the Pink Panther series into America, especially New York, where a team of replacements for Dreyfus and François would be waiting in the wings for some adventures set in America. The first choice for the role of Sleigh, Dudley Moore, declined. The second choice was rumoured to be Rowan Atkinson, although he was largely unknown in America. The film's small budget did not attract any big names to the role and so Ted Wass, who had appeared in an American television series called Soap, was cast. The script was written by Blake and his son Geoffrey Edwards, and as previously mentioned many of the cast for Trail were used in Curse.

Despite the presence of The Pink Panther's supporting cast, the film was a critical and financial failure. Blake Edwards claimed that this was because MGM/UA did not properly advertise the film. In an example of far more drama being off-screen than on, Edwards sued MGM/UA for $180 million for 'wilfully sabotaging the film', claiming that there had been a verbal agreement that at least $3.5 million would be spent promoting the film. MGM/UA, arguing that as Trail had not been successful they did not throw good money after bad with an expensive advertising campaign, in response countersued Blake Edwards for $350 million. This was because Trail and Curse between them had gone over budget, as had his film Victor/Victoria. MGM/UA claimed that therefore Edwards was guilty of fraud, having spent some of the budget on chauffeurs and extravagant items. In return Blake Edwards counter-countersued for $400 million, accusing MGM/UA of libel. In the end the lawsuit claims on both sides added up to almost $1.5 billion, and were eventually settled out of court. This drama delayed the making of another Pink Panther film, and was far more intense, dramatic and silly than any Pink Panther film made since Peter Sellers had died.


Another modernised version of the Pink Panther theme by Henry Mancini begins this film, which also has new themes running through it to emphasise that it no longer centres on Clouseau. No soundtrack album was released.

One point worth noting is that the computer Aldous hums 'Moon River' backwards.


This is a film which raises multiple questions, prominent among which is 'why?' a question second only to 'why oh why?' Another question is 'did anyone really think this was a good idea?', not to forget 'why why why why why why why?'

This was to be the first of a proposed series of six new Pink Panther films starring Ted Wass4. 'Curse' is an apt name for the film, as a curse, with its connotations of grave-robbing the holiest of holies and being punished for it, would seem to apply.

There is no denying that Curse of the Pink Panther is a poor film. This is partly due to a lack of its own identity, being the sequel to Trail of the Pink Panther. It comes across as Part Two, only making sense following Part One. This reduces the impact of the characters introduced in this film, particularly the new star, Ted Wass as Clifton Sleigh. Ted Wass does a reasonable job with the material he has been given, but he cannot rise to the impossible task of filling Sellers' shoes. The trouble is Wass never dominates the film; in every scene containing David Niven, Robert Wagner, Capucine or Roger Moore the film is stolen from him.

Similarities with the previous film include the character of Michelle Chauvin, who is an identical character to Trail's Marie Jouvet, which highlights the fact that Joanna Lumley, who had played Jouvet in that film is now playing a completely different character by wearing a truly awful wig. The film opens in Lugash with the same theft of the Pink Panther sequence seen in Trail. There is a virtually identical scene shown between Lugash's General and President and Sleigh's investigation seems at first to be a re-tread of Jouvet's investigation. Like Jouvet in Trail, Sleigh breaks into Cato's apartment, which is now the Clouseau museum displaying the Clouseau costumes. Once again there is a short Cato fight sequence, ended when Cato answers the phone. Yet Cato has now changed his accent and is no longer loyal or fond of Clouseau, appearing once in a scene confined within the apartment. Sleigh travels to visit Professor Balls simply to get the Instant Diversion Kit and thus set up a joke for later on, and then Sleigh travels with the same taxi driver that Jouvet had to visit the Lytton family.

While there is no denying that the Sellers' Pink Panther films involved a lot of repetition, on the whole the audience's expectations were diverted, keeping the set pieces fresh each time. In this film the repetitions simply feel like this is a film that has been seen countless times before, going through the motions that are expected of it.

It is not just the Pink Panther films that this borrows from. Other films include 2001: A Space Odyssey. Curse of the Pink Panther contains a computer called Huxley Aldous, similar to the computer HAL in 2001, and its programmer is called Dave just as HAL interacts with Dave Bowman in 2001. Once again To Catch a Thief is referenced, this time the plot being to 'set a detective to find a detective'. Other parts, especially the end, resemble Rough Cut, a film Blake Edwards considered but did not in the end direct. The closest film it resembles is Moonraker. Like Moonraker it stars Roger Moore. In Moonraker there was a fight in an alley where the hero and a girl (Manuela) faced a recurring villain (Jaws) while a carnival festival (the Rio de Janeiro Mardi Gras) featuring big-headed costumes takes place. In Curse, these elements are all present, with the villain Mr Chong and the Fallas festival taking place in Valencia. The main difference is that the fight sequence in Curse involves over-the-top Thwack! Pow! Bumff! sound effects.

There are some good moments. A highlight is the chase sequence where Sleigh is in an upside-down taxi pursued by the French underworld and Lugash secret police with a bomb attached, which detonates outside a theatre performing the 1812 Overture. Dreyfus is allowed to come out and play again, which is a joy to see, although sadly once again Burt Kwouk's Cato has been grounded. Curiously Cato claims that Balls was the last one to see Clouseau alive, which is not true. No reason for why Cato would lie is given, it is merely a statement to get Sleigh to a scene involving Professor Balls. Similarly no real reason for the scenes set in Valencia are provided, nor why Countess Chandra, living in Majorca, should be so worried about Sleigh's presence in Valencia to the extent that she sends someone to first protect him from the crime world and Lugash Secret Police and then poison him.

Edwards had a small budget of $16million to make both Trail and Curse. Curse had been intended to be an international film with scenes set in America, France, Spain, Lugash and Majorca. In comparison, his simpler, studio-bound popular 1982 film Victor/Victoria had cost $18.6million to make. In many ways Curse of the Pink Panther is too ambitious for its budget, and a simpler film would have worked better. Although most of the Pink Panther films have involved travelling the globe, A Shot In The Dark was set entirely around Paris. Would the film have been better with a bigger budget, as Edwards has claimed? Would the film have been more successful if the rumoured Rowan Atkinson actually had been cast? Comparing the scene of Sergeant Sleigh's discovery of the theft of the Pink Panther in Lugash to the scene of Johnny English's discovery of the theft of the Crown Jewels in the film Johnny English perhaps shows how Rowan Atkinson might have approached the role.

Animated Credit Sequence

Like in Curse of the Pink Panther, the title animation was written and directed by Arthur Leonardi of Marvel Productions Ltd, based on the David H DePatie and Friz Freland animated characters. In the sequence the Inspector is replaced by an animated Sergeant Sleigh character, who is faceless, perhaps reflecting Sleigh's fairly forgettable character. Or possibly symbolising that Blake Edwards, by making this film, has lost his mind.

The sequence begins with searchlights that discover Clouseau's hat and coat, but the trousers are missing. A sinister figure tries to kill the Panther, who opens a letter and finds a giant jewel which the he sweeps up. Panther then cleans up a smelly mess made by a defecating elephant. He then sees a computer, adds the Inspector's coat and hat in the computer's washing machine section and draws a pair of trousers. The Panther then deposits 25 cents into a slot, a message on the screen states 'Tilt', but the Panther is kicked into the computer by Clouseau's trousers.

Inside the computer the Panther chases after his 25 cent coin, but the inside of the computer looks like a funfair, and so he buys an ice lolly. The panther spots two coins, which turn into a pair of glasses. A butterfly becomes a bow tie, and from the glasses and bow tie, Sergeant Sleigh is created, only without a head. The Panther listens to a jukebox while Sleigh becomes a swing and, when the Panther swings on it, the swing transforms into a guillotine, decapitating the Panther. Fortunately Sleigh pulls the Panther's tail and the head is restored. They then go in a photo booth, where Sleigh has no head, and when the Panther goes into the booth, his head is replaced with a bomb. This explodes, creating lots of little Panthers. Sleigh tries to handcuff them but traps his own legs. Sleigh shows his police badge, the Panther and sleigh fall out of the computer and end up chained together by Sleigh's handcuffs at the leg.

Connections with other films

  • Disguises
    All films in the series feature disguises:
    • Clifton Sleigh, when first met, is disguised as a woman.
    • Clouseau disguised himself as film star Roger Moore, wearing an ice bucket on his head.
    • Julie Morgan claims to be 'Juleta Shane'.
    • Balls' Instant Diversion Kit disguises the fact that someone is really alone by providing an inflatable female companion and dog.
  • Dreadful Dreyfus:
    Dreyfus remains accident prone:
    • When Sleigh meets Dreyfus he pushes him into a fountain through a high window. Dreyfus almost chokes on a goldfish.
    • When Sleigh visits him in hospital he trips onto Dreyfus' bed, pulling levers attached to his injured limbs, inflicting further torture on him.
    • Dreyfus is deafened by the gas explosion.
    • When Dreyfus fires the bazooka, the recoil sends his wheelchair backwards off a cliff.
    • Dreyfus accidentally sets fire to his desk and falls out of his window into the fountain, again.
  • Sleighed in the Aisles:
    In addition to the Dreyfus disasters, Sleigh causes havoc:
    • Is chatted up by a drunk when trying to discover a mugger of old ladies.
    • When Sleigh visits the Lytton house, he is trapped in an inflatable duck, falls off a chair, breaks his glasses and falls in the swimming pool.
    • He sets fire to his inflatable Instant Diversion Kit woman outside a cafe.
    • He inflates his Instant Diversion Kit woman with gas, accidentally leaves the gas running which explodes.
    • Sleigh falls into the mud at Countess Chandra's villa in Majorca.
  • The French underworld try to kill Sleigh just as they had tried to kill Clouseau in Revenge of the Pink Panther.
  • Cato is seen in bed with two girls – has he re-opened the brothel seen in Revenge of the Pink Panther?
  • Sleigh survives numerous assassination attempts, similar to Clouseau in A Shot in the Dark, Inspector Clouseau, and The Pink Panther Strikes Again.
  • There is a lift scene similar to the one in Revenge of the Pink Panther.
  • Sleigh's hotel room is spied on by Dreyfus, just as he had spied on Clouseau in The Return of the Pink Panther.
  • Sleigh is almost drugged by Julie Morgan in the same way that Lady Lytton drugged Clouseau in The Return of the Pink Panther.
  • Sleigh is arrested after being set up by Dreyfus; Clouseau was frequently arrested in previous Pink Panther films.
The Pink Panther Films
The Pink Panther (1964) | A Shot In The Dark | Inspector Clouseau
The Return of the Pink Panther | The Pink Panther Strikes Again | Revenge of the Pink Panther
Trail of the Pink Panther | Curse of the Pink Panther | Son of the Pink Panther

1Voice by Rich Little.2Roger Moore, as an in-joke for his friend Bryan Forbes3Ear Nose & Throat, not a wooden doctor like the Ents in The Lord of the Rings.4The remaining five probably would not have been titled Sacrilege of the Pink Panther, Grave Robbing the Pink Panther, Desecration of the Pink Panther, Disrespecting the Pink Panther and Scraping the Bottom of the Pink Panther.

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