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The Pink Panther is a series of comedy films featuring an inept French police detective, Inspector Jacques Clouseau. The series began with the release of The Pink Panther (1963). The role was originated by, and is most closely associated with, Peter Sellers. Most of the films were directed and co-written by Blake Edwards, with theme music composed by Henry Mancini.

In the films, the Pink Panther is a large and valuable pink diamond which is first shown in the opening film in the series. The diamond is called the "Pink Panther", because the flaw at its center, when viewed closely, is said to resemble a leaping pink panther. The phrase reappears in the title of the fourth film, The Return of the Pink Panther, in which the theft of the diamond is again the center of the plot. The phrase was used for all the subsequent films in the series, even when the jewel did not figure in the plot. It ultimately appeared in six of the eleven films.

The first film in the series had an animated opening sequence, created by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises and set to the theme music by Mancini, which featured the Pink Panther character. This character, designed by Hawley Pratt and Friz Freleng, was subsequently the subject of its own series of animated cartoons, which gained its greatest fame when aired on Saturday mornings as The Pink Panther Show. The character would be featured in the opening of every film in the movie series except A Shot in the Dark and Inspector Clouseau.


Although the two most-recent Pink Panther films starred Steve Martin, most of the films in the series starred Sellers as Inspector Clouseau and were directed and co-written by Blake Edwards. The popular jazz-based theme music was composed by Henry Mancini. In addition to the credits sequences, the theme often accompanies any suspenseful sequence in the first film and in subsequent films using the character.

The Pink Panther of the title is a diamond supposedly containing a flaw which forms the image of a "leaping panther", which can be seen if held up to light in a certain way. This is explained in the beginning of the first film, and the camera zooms in on the diamond to reveal the blurry flaw, which focuses into the Panther (albeit not actually leaping) to start the opening credits sequence (this is also done in Return). The plot of the first film is based on the theft of this diamond. The diamond reappears in several later films in the series (The Return of the Pink Panther, Trail of the Pink Panther and Curse of the Pink Panther). It also comes in the 2006 reintroduction of Inspector Clouseau also called The Pink Panther and its sequel The Pink Panther 2). The name "the Pink Panther" became attached to Inspector Clouseau, in much the same way that Frankenstein has been used in film titles to refer to Dr. Frankenstein's creation or The Thin Man was used in a series of detective films.

A Shot in the Dark, a film which was not originally intended to feature Clouseau, is the first of two films in the series (the other being Inspector Clouseau) that features neither the diamond nor the distinctive animated Pink Panther in the opening credits and ending. Many critics, including Leonard Maltin, regard this film as the best in the series.

In the original film, the main focus was on David Niven's role as Sir Charles Litton, the infamous jewel thief nicknamed "the Phantom", and his plan to steal the Pink Panther. The Inspector Clouseau character plays only a supporting role as Litton's incompetent antagonist, and provided slapstick comic relief to a film that was otherwise a subtle, lighthearted crime drama, a somewhat jarring contrast of styles which is typical of Edwards' films. The popularity of Clouseau caused him to become the main character in subsequent Pink Panther films, which were more straightforward slapstick comedies.

Mancini's theme, with variations in arrangement, is used at the start of all but the first two of the subsequent films. Mancini's other themes for the first film include an Italian-language set-piece called "Meglio Stasera" whose purpose seems primarily to introduce young actress Fran Jeffries. Portions of an instrumental version also appear in the film's musical score several times. Other segments include "Shades of Sennett", a "honky tonk" piano number introducing the film's climactic chase scene through the streets of Rome. Most of the remaining tracks on the soundtrack album are early 1960s orchestral jazz pieces, matching the style of the era. Although variations of the main theme would reprise for many of the Pink Panther series entries, as well as the cartoon series, Mancini composed a different theme for A Shot in the Dark that was later adopted by the animated spin-off series, The Inspector.

The first five Sellers–Edwards films were released by United Artists. Trail, Curse, and Son were released by MGM/United Artists. DVD rights to The Return of the Pink Panther are now controlled by Universal Pictures' Focus Features division, in partnership with British production company ITC Entertainment and successor-in-interest ITV Global Entertainment Ltd. Focus Features issued this film on DVD for Region 1.

ITC originally intended to make an Inspector Clouseau television series, but Blake Edwards convinced the production company to back a feature film first, and later a series if the film should prove successful. The film exceeded expectations by becoming the most profitable film of 1975. United Artists quickly bought out ITC's investment and work immediately started on the next feature film.

Although official, the 1968 film Inspector Clouseau is generally not considered by fans to be part of the series canon since it did not involve Sellers or Edwards. Some elements of Arkin's performance and costuming, however, were retained when Peter Sellers took back the role for Return in 1975. Despite speculation, Alan Arkin does not appear in Trail of the Pink Panther.

The film that launched the second Pink Panther series, The Pink Panther, starring Martin as Clouseau, directed by Shawn Levy, and produced by Robert Simonds, was released in February 2006. This is the first Panther film to be released by Columbia Pictures, which co-produced the film with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It is set in the present day and introduces different main characters, therefore belonging to a different continuity. Martin also stars in the sequel, The Pink Panther 2, released in 2009.


On March 31, 2014 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has announced to develop a new live-action/animated Pink Panther film, David Silverman will direct the film, Walter Mirisch will produce with Julie Andrews.[1]


Film Year Clouseau Actor Notes Budget Gross
The Pink Panther 1963 Peter Sellers Although the film was centered on David Niven, Peter Sellers was so popular that the resulting series would be built on Clouseau rather than the Phantom/Sir Charles Lytton. N/A $10,878,107
A Shot in the Dark 1964 Peter Sellers Released less than a year after The Pink Panther. Clouseau returns to bumble his way through a murder investigation. This also marks the first appearance of both Herbert Lom's Charles Dreyfus and Burt Kwouk's Cato. N/A $12,368,234
Inspector Clouseau 1968 Alan Arkin This film stars Alan Arkin as Clouseau, and does not have any other recurring characters (Dreyfus, Cato, the Phantom, etc.) from the rest of the series. Although it was produced by the Mirisch Corporation, Peter Sellers, Blake Edwards, and Henry Mancini were not involved in the making of this film. N/A N/A
The Return of the Pink Panther 1975 Peter Sellers This not only marks the return of the famous "Pink Panther" diamond but also that of Peter Sellers as Clouseau, along with Edwards, Mancini, Dreyfus and Cato. Sir Charles Litton is portrayed by Christopher Plummer. $5 million $41,833,347
The Pink Panther Strikes Again 1976 Peter Sellers Dreyfus' insanity reaches a pinnacle, as he tries to intimidate the rest of the world into killing Clouseau. $6 million $33,833,201
Revenge of the Pink Panther 1978 Peter Sellers This film pits Clouseau against the French Connection. It is the last in which Sellers played Clouseau. He died two years after its release. N/A $49,579,259
Trail of the Pink Panther 1982 Peter Sellers/Stand-ins Features Peter Sellers as Clouseau using unused material from Strikes Again as well as scenes from previously released Pink Panther films. This was intended as a tribute to Sellers, but after its release Sellers' widow Lynne Frederick successfully sued Edwards and the studio for tarnishing her late husband's memory. David Niven and Capucine reprise their original roles. The film was a critical and commercial failure. N/A $9,056,073
Curse of the Pink Panther 1983 Roger Moore Inspector Clouseau and the Pink Panther diamond, both of which had gone missing in Trail, are pursued by the bumbling American detective, Clifton Sleigh (Ted Wass). Clouseau returns in a cameo played by Roger Moore (who is credited as Turk Thrust II) after having plastic surgery to disguise his identity. Although intended to spawn a new series of misadventures for Sergeant Sleigh, the film's dismal box office performance and critical drubbing led to a decade-long hiatus of the series. N/A $3,374,312
Son of the Pink Panther 1993 Roberto Benigni Blake Edwards tried to revive the series by casting Roberto Benigni as Gendarme Jacques Gambrelli, Inspector Clouseau's illegitimate son by Maria Gambrelli (the murder suspect from A Shot in the Dark). Once again, many former Panther co-stars return - Herbert Lom, Burt Kwouk, and Graham Stark, and a star of the original 1964 film, Claudia Cardinale. Although intended to relaunch the series with a new lovable bumbling hero, Son became the final installment in the original series. $28 million $2,438,031
The Pink Panther 2006 Steve Martin This reboot launches a new series starring Steve Martin as Inspector Clouseau and Kevin Kline as Chief Inspector Dreyfus. Not a remake of the original film, it forms a new starting point for a contemporary series, introducing the Clouseau and Dreyfus characters along with the famous diamond to a new generation. $80 million $158,851,357
The Pink Panther 2 2009 Steve Martin The sequel to Steve Martin's 2006 film. Martin reprises his role, but John Cleese replaces Kevin Kline as Chief Inspector Dreyfus. $70 million $75,946,615


The Pink Panther cartoon character

Main article: Pink Panther

The opening title sequence of the original 1963 The Pink Panther film was such a success with the United Artists executives that they decided to adapt the title sequence into a series of theatrical animated shorts. DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, run by former Warner Bros. Cartoons creators David H. DePatie and Friz Freleng produced the opening sequences, with Freleng as director. United Artists commissioned a long series of The Pink Panther shorts, the first of which, 1964's The Pink Phink, won the 1964 Academy Award for Animated Short Film. This was the first- and to date only time- a studio's first work won an Oscar.[2]

By autumn 1969, the shorts were being broadcast on NBC stations[3] during Saturday mornings on The Pink Panther Show; after 1969, new shorts were produced for both television broadcast and theatrical release. The animated Pink Panther character has also appeared in computer and console video games, as well as advertising campaigns for several companies. There has also been a short-lived animated series called Pink Panther and Pals (2010) which is aimed at younger children. MGM is planning an animation/live action hybrid film rebooting the franchise.[4] The hybrid film will be directed by David Silverman and produced by Walter Mirisch and Julie Andrews.[5]



  1. "MGM To Make New Live-Action/CG ‘Pink Panther’ Movie". 
  2. "The Pink Phink"., April 13, 2013
  3. "The Pink Panther Show"., April 14, 2014
  5. Koch, Dave (April 14, 2014). "Pink Turns 50! Let’s Celebrate!". Big Cartoon News. Retrieved on April 14, 2014. 

External links[]

The Pink Panther
Films The Pink Panther (1963) • A Shot in the Dark (1964) • Inspector Clouseau (1968) • The Return of the Pink Panther (1975) • The Pink Panther Strikes Strikes Again (1976) • Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978) • Trail of the Pink Panther (1982) • Curse of the Pink Panther (1983) • Son of the Pink Panther (1993) • The Pink Panther (2006) • The Pink Panther 2 (2009)
Animated shorts Original Pink Panther shorts (1964–1980) • Original Inspector shorts (1965-1969) • Driving Mr. Pink (1995)
Animated TV shows The Pink Panther Show (1969–1980) • Pink Panther and Sons (1984–1985) • The Pink Panther (1993–1995) • Pink Panther and Pals (2010)
Animated TV specials A Pink Christmas (1978) • Olym-Pinks (1980) • Pink at First Sight (1981)
Characters Pink PantherInspector ClouseauLittle ManThe InspectorAntAardvarkCrazylegs CraneBlue RacerMisterjawDogfatherRolandRattfinkTijuana ToadsHoot Kloot
Video games The Pink Panther: Passport to Peril (1996)
Music The Pink Panther Theme
Other Romance of the Pink Panther