It’s time to look at the first Pink Panther film. This one surprisingly doesn’t actually have the famous Pink Panther in the movie though which was definitely an odd decision. I don’t think it ultimately worked out well and really you could have called this movie anything else in that case. There is really no connection to the show outside of the credits and such. The movie can be pretty fun and quite a lot happens here. The humor has aged well and it’s a blast and a half, but I do think some of the jokes ultimately cut too deep for some of the characters with all of the cheating going on.
The movie starts with explaining that Princess Dala now has a legendary jewel known as the Pink Panther. The government wants it, but she believes that it is hers and refuses to relinquish it. She has gone on vacation for a while to relax and take her mind off of this. Charles is a world famous thief and he’s decided to take that jewel away from her. To do this he’ll have someone kidnap her dog and when he manages to save it he’ll become her friend and get close enough to snatch the jewel. His girlfriend Simone is also here because her husband Jacques is a big detective and that guy is here to stop the Phantom (Charles) from stealing this gem. He has never succeeded in the past but there’s a first time for everything right?
Let’s start off with the positives. For starters, the film is definitely a lot of fun. Pretty much any scene with Jacques fumbling around is a blast. The guy definitely means well so you do feel bad for him when things just don’t go his way. It’s downright tragic at times. Then you’ve also got the extended car chases which are pretty neat and the party mixups with everyone having the same costume. There’s a lot of snappy dialogue and banter to be found here as well which is always a positive thing. The movie moves at a very quick pace and it isn’t afraid to go completely crazy at times. This isn’t a comedy that is trying to be super realistic.
This is just a fun movie and that’s important. Unfortunately the elements against it are just as strong. First we’ve got to get into the fact that the romance plots here are pretty iffy. So Jacques is married to Simone but she has actually been cheating on him for years with Charles. We don’t know how long this has been going on, but it’s been a very long time indeed. She’s effectively an undercover agent and the whole thing is pretty messed up. Then to make things even worse Charles’ nephew George shows up and he likes Simone too. I guess everyone just tends to like her a lot and she plays along at times to keep him distracted. All of these scenes are pretty bad and you’re just waiting for the film to resume again.
Not to be satisfied with 3 romance plots, the film throws in a 4th with Princess Dala. Charles decides to further the plan along he’ll get even closer to her so he pressures her into getting drunk and they have an affair. The scene takes forever and a day to get through and is definitely the worst scene in the film. It also makes Charles look especially bad since he intentionally got her drunk in order for her to lower her guard. There’s no way you could root for him after this. The cast is very charismatic and the characters are fun, but you just can’t get around the fact that they’re all total villains. These scenes/plotlines ultimately held the film back quite a bit.
So to recap the characters, here’s where they stand. George is one of the worst characters here and his only motivation is to cheat on his uncle with Simone. Simone’s pretty bad as she just wants to cheat on her husband with Charles. Meanwhile Charles is trying to get Dala drunk so he can cheat on Simone. The only reasonable character by the end of all this is Jacques who is just trying to catch a criminal and do the right thing. He’s a very nice guy who does everything Simone asks of him without complaint or hesitation. He’s pretty much portrayed as the perfect character but of course the film uses that against him here.
As I mentioned, it does make for a fun plot whenever Jacques acts like a klutz and messes up. He just can’t possibly hold the film on his own. At least he does get a bit of a happy ending. I’d argue that he’s still not in a great position but at least now his reputation will be improved quite a bit. Charles is even going to make sure that he gets out early by committing another robbery so it’s obvious that he’s innocent. It’s a nice thing to do, but then of course you remember that Charles is the reason he is being arrested in the first place so it ends up balancing out.
Overall, The Pink Panther is a pretty intense comedy. At times it can be a bit tragic for Jacques and the film does dwell on the various romance plots a bit too much. Throw out all of that cheating and the film would be many times better. It’s a film that is held back by all of this, but it’s still worth watching at least once. It’s too funny to pass up and they just don’t really make films like this anymore. I’m hoping the sequels can keep the humor and then improve upon the rest. I’m confident that they can do so because I don’t think the movies would be re-using these various plots so odds are that it would be a fresh start. Only time will tell though so we’ll see if that is the case.