A Shot in the Dark

Movie Information

In Brief: Designed as a follow-up to the original The Pink Panther (1963), A Shot in the Dark (1964) finds Blake Edwards and co-author William Peter Blatty turning to Harry Kurnitz’ play of the same name as a basis for the sequel. Using the play as a springboard gave the film the kind of form and structure that’s lacking in so many of Edwards’ films. Giving the film more form than usual — not to mention an unusually worthy cast of comedic foils — also brought out the best in Sellers. His completely misplaced self-confidence and his mangling of the English language as Inspector Clouseau seem less forced here than they often do in later entries. Simply to watch the billiard game he has with George Sanders (one of the suspects in a murder case) is a testament to how well the film works. Rarely had Sellers such a worthy screen opponent, and no one but Sanders could have pulled off the scene with the kind of world-weary sangfroid he manages to display despite Seller’s stumbling antics. Sanders even manages to help set up at least one gag with no apparent attempt at being funny. (Admirers of Sellers’ work on the radio’s The Goon Show can’t help but revel in seeing Sellers play against Sanders, who served as the obvious model for Sellers’ villainous Hercules Grytpype-Thynne on the show.) All in all, it’s the jewel in the Pink Panther series.
Genre: Comedy
Director: Blake Edwards
Starring: Peter Sellers, Elke Sommer, Herbert Lom, George Sanders, Tracy Reed, Graham Stark
Rated: NR

The Hendersonville Film Society will show A Shot in the Dark Sunday, May 1, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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