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

'Son 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

In many ways you are like your father; fool-hardy, accident prone, pig-headed, courageous, accident-prone...
- Maria Gambrelli to her son Jacques.


Princess Yasmin of Lugash has been kidnapped! Her father, King Haroak, this week's ruler of Lugash, is told that in addition to $100 million in ransom money he must abdicate.

The only witness, and thus the princess's only hope, is Gendarme Jacques Gambrelli. He saw the semi-conscious princess being kidnapped but believed she was being taken to hospital, and that the reason her companions were carrying automatic weapons was because they had been hunting. Jacques had, of course, fallen head over heels in love with the princess at first sight. Commissioner Dreyfus is assigned to investigate the kidnapping and works closely with Gambrelli, who reminds him of Clouseau. The kidnappers attempt to kill Gambrelli, planting a bomb at his mother Maria's house, which puts Dreyfus in hospital.

In the hospital, while visiting Dreyfus, Gambrelli spots the kidnappers, overhears their conversation and learns that their leader has been injured. Gambrelli disguises himself as a doctor in order to be taken to where the princess has been held, but his incompetence and lack of medical knowledge eventually give him away. He is held in the same cell as the Princess before the kidnappers again attempt to kill him. They escape with the princess by helicopter to Darfur, which in the film is stated to be Lugash's neighbour.

Waking at the same hospital as Dreyfus, Gambrelli learns from Maria that his father was indeed Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau. Clouseau had saved Maria's life by proving that she did not kill the Ballons' chauffeur in A Shot in the Dark. Jacques Gambrelli is renamed Jacques Clouseau, promoted by Dreyfus to Inspector, and travels to Paris to meet his father's closest allies, Professor Balls and Cato. Accompanied by Cato he travels to Omar's Oasis in Darfur, where he learns the location of the kidnapped princess.

Will Gambrelli, assisted by forces loyal to King Haroak, be able to rescue the kidnapped princess? Who will Dreyfus marry? What other Gambrelli family secret will be revealed?


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

Gendarme Jacques GambrelliRoberto Benigni
Police Commissioner Charles DreyfusHerbert Lom
Maria GambrelliClaudia Cardinale
Princess YasminDebrah Farentino
YussaJennifer Edwards
Hans ZarbaRobert Davi
Police Chief Charles LazarAnton Rodgers
Cato FongBurt Kwouk
Professor Auguste BallsGraham Stark
King HaroakOliver Cotton
General JaffarAharon Ipalé
QueenShabana Azmi
Sergeant François DuvalDermot Crowley
Jean ClaudeHerb 'Sputare' Tanney
Marta BallsLiz Smith
Omar1Mozaffar Shafeie
Uncle IdrisArnold Yarrow
Jacqueline GambrelliNicoletta Braschi

Italian actor Roberto Benigni is best known now for his Academy Award-winning performance in 1997's Life Is Beautiful, a film which he wrote and directed. He would also appear in Asterix & Obelix Take On Cæsar. Claudia Cardinale, who was Princess Dala in The Pink Panther, returns to the series playing Maria Gambrelli, previously played by Elke Sommers. Debrah Farentino was an American actress famous for starring in Earth 2. Jennifer Edwards, daughter of director Blake Edwards, was famous for being Heidi in the 1968 television movie of that name and also appeared in many of her father's films.

Villain Robert Davi had been in The Goonies, Die Hard and in the James Bond film Licence to Kill. Anton Rodgers has also appeared in numerous films, singing the Oscar-nominated song 'Thank You Very Much' in Scrooge. He also appeared in The Day of the Jackal, The Fourth Protocol, and a similar role to his Son of the Pink Panther appearance in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Aharon Ipalé would later play Pharaoh Seti I in The Mummy and The Mummy Returns. Dermot Crowley replaced André Maranne as François, as Maranne had died in 1992. Crowley is most famous for being General Madine in Return of the Jedi. Nicoletta Braschi, who played Jacques Gambrelli's twin sister Jacqueline, is Roberto Benigni's wife and has appeared in many of his films, including Life is Beautiful where she played his wife, and Johnny Stecchino, also starring Roberto Benigni in dual roles, where she played love-interest Maria.

The Making of Son of the Pink Panther

Despite the failure of the previous two Pink Panther films, Blake Edwards was still enthusiastic and initially wished to cast talented Oscar-nominated actor Gérard Depardieu. However, MGM/UA were not interested in making another film. Blake Edwards made other films, including Skin Deep and Switch while waiting for MGM/UA to allow him the rights. After a while he grew tired of waiting.

In 1991 Blake Edwards sued MGM/UA2 for $25 million, charging them for breach of contract and fiduciary infractions, stating that the studio not only were not using his Pink Panther character, but were preventing him from developing a Pink Panther film with another studio. This was settled out of court when Alan Ladd Junior replaced Giancarlo Parretti as MGM/UA's chairman. Blake Edwards was given permission to make another Pink Panther film if he could find a company willing to finance it. Italian company Filmauro, founded by Luigi De Laurentiis3 and then run by his son Aurelio De Laurentiis, were willing to pay $14million to finance the film, provided an Italian actor was cast in the lead.

Italian actor Roberto Benigni was cast as Jacques Gambrelli, the illegitimate son of Inspector Clouseau. Although very famous within Italy (his previous film Johnny Stecchino was the most successful Italian film ever), he was not to find fame worldwide until Life Is Beautiful in 1997, for which he would win a Best Actor Oscar in 1999. Italian actress Claudia Cardinale replaced Elke Sommer as Maria Gambrelli. Appropriately enough, Blake Edwards' son Geoffrey Edwards was the second unit director and Blakes' daughter Jennifer Edwards played Yussa. Unfortunately, the film was a commercial and critical failure. It went straight to video in Britain, despite the ending being left open for a sequel. This was the penultimate film on which both Blake Edwards and composer Henry Mancini worked together (the last was Victor/Victoria).


This was the last film score to be composed by Henry Mancini. Most notable is Bobby McFerrin's scatting arrangement of the Pink Panther theme. The Gambrelli Theme pleasantly echoes the Clouseau Theme, with which it shares similarities.


  • The Pink Panther Theme (Bobby McFerrin)
  • Son of the Pink Panther
  • The Snatch
  • God Bless Clouseau
  • Samba De Jacques
  • The Gambrelli Theme
  • The Bike Chase
  • The Dreamy Princess
  • Riot at Omar's
  • Mama and Dreyfus
  • Rendez-vous with Cato
  • The King's Palace
  • The Showdown
  • The Pink Panther Theme (Henry Mancini)


Son of the Pink Panther is a film that Blake Edwards spent ten years fighting for the right to make. After a fierce battle with MGM executives, the question that has to be asked is was the fight worth it? There is no denying that this is the best of the Edwards Panther trilogy made after Peter Sellers' death. After a journalist investigator and a computer identikit Clouseau replacement, Edwards has concluded that there is no substitute for a genuine Clouseau.

Unlike Trail and Curse, this film has a coherent plot, identifiable villains and a clear beginning, middle and end. Villains kidnap the Princess, Gambrelli looks for her and at the end locates where she has been taken in time for the finale. Robert Davi as Hans Zarba is an effective villain who exudes a threatening presence, something which the previous two films lacked.

Edwards includes several Panther references and in-jokes which link the film with the best Panther films, particularly A Shot in the Dark. The casting of Claudia Cardinale as Maria Gambrelli works well and leads to the knowing in-joke where Claudia, who had been Princess Dala in The Pink Panther, pronounces a picture of Princess Yasmin to be 'not bad for a princess'. Another reference is to Omar's Oasis in Lugash, named after Omar Sharif who had briefly appeared in The Pink Panther Strikes Again.

The recurring Panther characters get something to do, but without detracting from this being Roberto Benigni's film. Cato is finally allowed out of the confines of the Clouseau apartment, and he seems happier than in previous films as a result, volunteering to join in the adventure and travel to Lugash, helping to save the day at the end.

The film also sees the end of the Dreyfus/Clouseau rivalry, with Dreyfus deciding that if he cannot beat the Clouseaus, he can join them by marrying into the family. Although he had previously had a wife and mistress with children in A Shot in the Dark and was still unhappily married in Curse of the Pink Panther, we finally feel that Dreyfus has been granted a chance of happiness. His reaction to Jacques Gambrelli remains fondly paternal, despite Jacques resemblance to Clouseau. Dreyfus warns Gambrelli that the kidnappers may be after him, promotes him to Inspector and tells Chief Lazar that he is glad he has been assigned Gambrelli to work with. In a scene reminiscent of The Pink Panther Strikes Again where Dreyfus fell in a duck pond and was rescued by Clouseau, making him mad, Dreyfus even jumps into the sea to try to save Gambrelli, despite being unable to swim himself. This leads to Dreyfus giving Gambrelli a lift home: the start of his finding domestic happiness. Finally, after seven films, every day and in every way Dreyfus is getting better and better.

Gambrelli is not identical to Clouseau; he is allowed his own interests, including poetry and opera. Like Edwards and Sellers, Gambrelli is a fan of early slapstick comedy, having figurines of Laurel and Hardy in his room. He attempts to turn up the volume on a television in order to watch classic Marx brothers film A Day at the Races, causing hilarity with the wrong remote control. In this sequence, on television Groucho impersonates a doctor and causes pain with a problematic bed on a patient, while Gambrelli is unknowingly doing exactly the same to Dreyfus by controlling the hospital bed, not the television. Later, like Groucho, he would disguise himself as a doctor in order to infiltrate the kidnappers' lair. In this ploy he successfully gains entry to the headquarters before being discovered.

Again there are several James Bond themes interwoven in the plot. There are helicopters, jumping out of the back of aircraft like The Living Daylights' opening sequence in Gibraltar, battles with the hero rescuing the girl against an evil force, and a villain, Robert Davi, who was straight out of Bond film Licence to Kill playing essentially the same character. This, coupled with the early comedies, shows Edwards' interest in the whole of the history of cinema.

Overall, this is a much better film than the previous two Pink Panther films and a far better way to end the series than Curse of the Pink Panther. In Son of the Pink Panther the name Clouseau and the heroic qualities it stands for live on, though this film marks the end of a series begun in 19644. It is true it was not a box office success and did not create new sequels5, but it ends happily with the case 'soul-ved'.

Animated Credit Sequence

This is the only film in the series to begin with the opening credits. The opening credit sequence cost $1 million and was directed by Geoffrey Edwards and animated by Desert Music Pictures. It is one of the best credit sequences in a Pink Panther film.

In it, a conductor on a cinema screen transforms into the Panther, who walks out of the screen and amongst a group of musicians in the cinema hall, headed by Bobby McFerrin6. McFerrrin scats with the cat until Henry Mancini himself appears, giving his baton to the Panther. Taking the baton from Mancini, the Panther starts conducting the scatting musicians as the credits appear on the screen in front of him.

The animated Gambrelli character's shadow appears on the screen, and soon the film is burning. The Panther rushes to the projector room to save the film while Gambrelli ends up buried beneath the film spool. The Panther's tail is trapped in the projector, and he is shot through the projector and onto the screen, which turns pink. The musicians continue scatting, but the Panther has lost his baton. This is found by Gambrelli, who catapults Panther out of the screen and back into the real world. Gambrelli rushes by on his motor-assisted bicycle, leaving everything he passes in chaos. The Panther recovers the baton and uses it to cue the beginning of the film.

Connections with other films

  • Disguises
    All films in the series feature disguises:
    • Hans Zarba disguises himself as a man from a sinking ship.
    • Princess Yasmin is disguised as the kidnap driver's sister being taken to hospital.
    • Maria Gambrelli disguises Jacques' father's true identity, initially telling him that his father was a French horn player.
    • Gambrelli disguises himself as a doctor, reminiscent of how Clouseau disguised himself as a dentist in The Pink Panther Strikes Again.
    • Cato is disguised as a Rabbi when travelling to the Muslim countries of Lugash and Darfur.
    • Gambrelli disguises himself as a Bedouin beggar.
  • Clouseau Clumsiness:
    As the son of Inspector Clouseau, Jacques 'Clouseau Junior' Gambrelli has inherited his father's clumsiness:
    • Gambrelli crashes into Dreyfus' car, which crashed into the kidnapper's van.
    • He traps his hand in the kidnapper's van door.
    • When Gambrelli visits the hospital he parks his bicycle in wet cement and his handlebars come off.
    • He cycles off the quayside into the sea.
    • He inflicts pain upon Dreyfus, confusing the bed remote for a television control.
    • When disguised as a doctor he stabs himself with a needle twice, reminiscent of a scene in The Pink Panther Strikes Again.
    • Gambrelli falls out of a van full of explosives.
    • In hospital he knocks Chief Lazar out the window twice, similar to a scene in Trail of the Pink Panther.
    • He falls down stairs of Omar's Oasis, knocking everyone there over. However his clumsiness saves him from death.
    • At the end of the film, when he has rescued the princess, Gambrelli falls down into the celebratory ceremony, accidentally stabs someone and cannot put his sword back in its scabbard, similar to the ending of Revenge of the Pink Panther.
  • Dreadful Dreyfus:
    Dreyfus remains accident prone:
    • When Gambrelli chases Dreyfus and François, Dreyfus crashes into the kidnapper's van.
    • When Gambrelli falls in the dock, Dreyfus jumps in to rescue him.
    • Dreyfus is humped by the Gambrelli family dog and bombed when he visits Gambrelli and his mother Maria.
    • Dreyfus attempts to change channels when in his hospital bed, picks up the bed's remote control, and is catapulted out of bed.
    • Jacques Gambrelli puts flowers on Dreyfus' feet and waters them.
    • Dreyfus has a heart attack.
    • Dreyfus is jumped on and tackled to the ground by Jacqueline Gambrelli, Jacques' twin sister.
  • Cato jumps out of a fridge, just as he did in The Return of the Pink Panther.
  • In a scene reminiscent of Clouseau's trouble with taxi drivers and his asking for directions to a hotel in The Return of the Pink Panther, Gambrelli asks a passing camel driver, 'Do you know which way is north?' getting only the answer 'Yes' and no directions.
  • Lugash has had another regime change. In The Pink Panther Princess Dala's monarchy was replaced by a military coup. By The Return of the Pink Panther Lugash was ruled by a Shah, although Colonel Sharki had political ambitions. In Trail of the Pink Panther there had been another military coup led by Colonel, thereafter President, Sandover Haleesh. Now King Haroak rules Lugash, despite the ransom note demanding his abdication. Ruling Lugash is not for someone requiring job security.
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

1Named after Omar Sharif who had appeared in The Pink Panther Strikes Again.2Now renamed MGM-Pathé.3Brother of Agostino 'Dino' De Laurentiis, who produced over a hundred films, including Dune.4The Pink Panther series was not rebooted until 2006, and then featured a completely new Clouseau.5It has been speculated that the next film would have been Daughter of the Pink Panther and more Lugash politics would have been involved.6Famous for composing and singing 'Don't Worry, Be Happy' in 1988 and for the music in Pixar's short film Knick Knack.

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