The funny thing, as you look over the 18 (!) discs of The Ultimate Pink Panther Collection--nine devoted to Inspector Clouseau, nine to the animated Pink Panther cartoon character and his friends--is that neither of them were supposed to be the star. When Blake Edwards' original film, The Pink Panther, was released in 1963, it was intended as a vehicle for star David Niven and a showcase for the kind of light, elegant, sophisticated comedy that Edwards had done so well two years before with Breakfast at Tiffany's. But then Edwards cast brilliant comedian Peter Sellers in the supporting role of police inspector Jacques Clouseau, which developed into his most iconic character--a comically stupid, stunningly clutzy, yet supremely confident French investigator who mangles the English language with his ridiculously overblown French accent.
Clouseau is brought in to investigate the theft of the enormous Pink Panther diamond, which has been stolen by British aristocrat Sir Charles Lytton (Niven), who is secretly a renowned jewel thief known only as "The Phantom." Lytton's American nephew (Robert Wagner) is himself attempting to the steal the diamond, while Clouseau's wife (Capucine) is secretly in cahoots with Lytton, her lover.
This first incarnation of Clouseau, and the film that surrounds it, is much more subtle than in the series that it spawned. Sellers' mangled French accent is less pronounced in this first outing, and while there are moments of slapstick, the film is much more interested in the comings-and-goings of Niven and Capucine than Sellers' antics. As a result, The Pink Panther can be a bit of a listless viewing experience; if you've seen any of the other films (or even clips of them), you keep waiting for this one to cut loose, which it never really does.
The supporting characters that would so enliven the series (Dreyfus, Cato, Francois, etc.) are also nowhere to be found, though we do have the first of the famed cartoon opening credits sequences by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises. Overall, The Pink Pantheris enjoyable, particularly for Sellers' restrained but still funny performance and Henry Mancini's immortal score. But as far as the series goes, it's rather a bumpy take-off.
Edwards moved immediately from The Pink Panther into his next project, a film version of the Broadway comedy A Shot In The Dark (adapted from a French farce). The Pink Panther had not yet been released, but Edwards felt that the Clouseau character had more mileage, so he and co-screenwriter William Peter Blatty (later of The Exorcist) re-wrote the text as a Clouseau vehicle. The film was ultimately released just a few months after Panther, but the contrast is astonishing: this film is faster, sharper, and far funnier--arguably the best of the series.
Clouseau is called to a country home to investigate a murder, which becomes a series of murders--perhaps due to Clouseau's reluctance to arrest the lovely Maria Gambrelli (Elke Sommer). Clouseau's investigative incompetence--and now monumental clumsiness--constantly exasperates his high-strung superior, Commissioner Charles Dreyfus (Herbert Lom), who would become his regular foil in the series; his manservant Cato (Bert Kwouk), whose primary job is to attack Clouseau at unexpected moments so that the Frenchman is always ready for an attack, makes his first appearance here as well.
A Shot In The Dark is the boilerplate Clouseau film (though, due to the story's stage roots, the action is a little more concentrated to one location than usual): the dialogue is sharp and clever (much of it based on misunderstandings of Clouseau's outrageous accent), the plotting is surprisingly tight, the pace is breezy but never sags, and the slapstick is well-conceived and beautifully executed by Sellers (and Lom and Kwouk). Laugh-out-loud funny and relentlessly entertaining, A Shot In The Dark is the crown jewel (or Pink Panther diamond) of this collection.
The next film in the set is a bit of an oddity: the rarely discussed (and even more seldom seen) Inspector Clouseau. Pressure was on Edwards and Sellers to follow up Shot with another Panther film, but they (and composer Mancini) chose to make The Party instead. Producers The Mirisch Company decided that they would make the film without them, hiring Bud Yorkin to direct and Alan Arkin to play Clouseau. With the supporting characters established in the previous picture also missing, Inspector Clouseau is a bit of an oddity--it just doesn't feel like a Panther film, or at least it feels like one from some kind of parallel movie universe.
Arkin isn't quite right for the role (as is made painfully clear throughout this set, no one is right for it but Peter Sellers), but Clouseau is better than its reputation. There are some real laughs to be found here, particularly early in the film; there's a very funny debriefing sequence (in which Clouseau keeps changing positions and seats in an office), and his (silent) introductory sequence is very funny in a very Buster Keaton kind of way. The plot (a crime wave across Europe, culminating in several simultaneous bank robberies) is fairly ingenious, though it takes over the film to some degree by the climax (the proper balance of plot and comedy is a running problem throughout the series). Inspector Clouseau is a little too loosely paced, and Arkin never makes the part is own, but it's not a terrible film.
The Yorkin-Arkin reboot didn't really take, and the series lay dormant until 1975, when Edwards and Sellers (among others) reunited for The Return of the Pink Panther. And here is where things get sticky, as Return's home video rights, through a series of legal machinations too labyrinth to dive into here, belong to Universal (who have released it twice on DVD); apparently, MGM and Universal have not been able to reconcile their issues and put the film into the set, and they reportedly never will (though I'm not sure why this is such an impossibility; The Ultimate Oliver Stone Collection, for example, includes not only films from MGM and Universal, but Warner Brothers, Touchstone, and Sony as well). This exclusion is problematic; not only does it make the box set's "Ultimate Pink Panther Collection" title a bit of a misnomer, but Return is many a Clouseu fan's favorite film in the series. On top of that, skipping it leaves a rather large hole in the series' ongoing story arc, though that is apparently not of great concern to the filmmakers (more on that later).
Return was a box-office smash, so Edwards and Sellers hurried back into the saddle and released The Pink Panther Strikes Again the following year. This one starts very strong, with an aces pre-title sequence of Clouseau visiting Dreyfus in a sanitarium (where he has landed after repeated attempts to kill the inspector), followed by the best of the animated credit sequences (placing the Panther and the animated Inspector in a movie theatre, where they pop into on-screen re-creations of classic movie scenes). The rest of the film is solid, but definitely flawed; there's a great Cato fight, the now-classic "parallel bars" gag, and an uproariously funny interrogation of a kidnapped scientist's staff.
The emphasis is squarely on the slapstick this time around, with far less attention paid to the wacky wordplay of earlier installments. Its plot is grounded in no discernible reality; I'm not sure if Edwards was trying to send up the "mad genius" villains of the Bond films, but the story (Dreyfus has gone so insane that he enlists a crew of criminals and then kidnaps a scientist and his daughter in order to create a "doomsday weapon") is just plain nutty (and ends strangely, which I'll return to). Edwards attempts to be topical by inserting thinly-veiled versions of then-President Ford and his staff into the proceedings, but it comes off as ham-handed and desperate, besides dating the film in a way that the series usually avoids. The picture also stumbles with an extended, unfunny, and passť scene in a gay bar, and Clouseau's "yellow" cracks at Cato begin to increase, each one more cringe-inducing than the last. Oh, and the third act includes the tired old "laughing gas" bit.
This is not to imply that Strikes Again isn't funny--there are some terrific comic sequences, and the film is fairly entertaining overall. But the series is starting to get a little creaky.
Sellers and Edwards' never-cozy relationship had reportedly grown even more strained on the Strikes Again shoot, but that film's box office success lured the pair back together for 1978's Revenge of the Pink Panther. The laughs are fewer and further between this go-round, mainly due to Edwards (and his screenwriters) taking a 180 degree turn from the previous film and taking this one's plot absolutely seriously. It concerns French mobster Philippe Douvier (Robert Webber) who hatches a plot to have his organization kill Clouseau (by now an international crime-solving celebrity) in order to prove their mettle to the New York mafia (and make a lucrative drug smuggling deal). An inordinate amount of time is spent with the villains (including Robert Loggia, who would appear in two more Panther movies), and a befuddling share of the screen time is handed over to the subplot of Douvier's extra-marital affair--it's as if they went to the trouble of hiring lovely and funny Dyan Cannon to play his mistress, and then had to give her something to do.
Sellers shines through in some sequences; there is a cleaver beat when his clothes are stolen by a transvestite and he has to go drag, and his "Godfather" disguise late in the film is unquestionably the comic highlight. The film's most head-scratching quirk, however, is the inclusion of Dreyfus, who, in addition to becoming a super-villain in the previous film, (minor spoiler) is literally vaporized at the end of it. In bringing him back with no explanation, not only intact but to rejoin the force, Edwards apparently decided to pretend like Strikes Back never happened.
As with most mid-budget comedies of the late 70s and early 80s, Revenge of the Pink Panther ends with a bunch of car crashes and explosions, scored by Mancini cues that try way too hard to sound wacky. That's not his finest moment in the series, nor is the disco-tinged version of the title theme that opens the film--suffice it to say, it has not aged well.
Personal problems aside, Edwards and Sellers were working on a new film (Romance of the Pink Panther) at the time of Sellers' untimely death in 1980. Edwards apparently didn't want to let go of his cash cow, and came up with an idea: why not write a new film around existing footage of Sellers--deleted scenes and recycled sequences--and put that out into the marketplace? And thus we have 1982's Trail of the Pink Panther.
I guess it's understandable, in that pre-DVD, pre-deleted scenes age, that Edwards would want to use the cut sequences somewhere, because some of them are very funny (Clouseau's attempts to use a car "peup-out" cigarette lighter; his adventures in and out of an open window in his hotel room). But some were clearly cut for a reason, and some are too obviously connected (via costumes and crossover moments) to the films they came from, making it impossible to buy them as part of this new story.
Then, at the 42-minute mark, Clouseau goes missing in the midst of his search for the Pink Panther diamond, and that's the end of the previously unseen stuff; the rest of the film is just recycled clips, like it's a flashback episode of Friends or something. A reporter (Joanna Lumley) investigates his disappearance, visiting those whom he was involved with over the years, and cueing the old clips; David Niven and Cappucine return for a brief appearance, and it's good to see them again, though Niven is looking mighty frail (his dialogue, in this and the next film, was reportedly dubbed in by impressionist Rich Little). The reporter is also in some kind of danger from Loggia's returning Mafia don or something, but that subplot is just dull as toast. Edwards regular Richard Mulligan clearly has a good time (in heavy makeup) playing Clouseau's father, and his sequence includes scenes of the Inspector in his youth (the Clouseau "origin story," if you will) that are fairly clever, though they mostly feel like Edwards is marking time. In some ways, though, that applies to the whole move.
Edwards opens Trail with a dedication: "To Peter, the one and only Inspector Clouseau." The sentiment might seem more genuine if he hadn't proceeded, the next year, to replace him. Curse of the Pink Panther was shot concurrently with Trail (hence the reappearance of many supporting players, including Niven, Cappucine, Loggia, and Lumley--this time in a different role) and continued its story, with a super-computer searching the world for a Clouseau match, with the logic that it would take a great detective to find the great detective. Of course, since Clouseau is a clutzy moron who only stumbles upon his deductions and solutions, a similarly imbecilic detective is found: New York cop, Det. Clifton Sleigh (Ted Wass).
The problem (again) is that Sellers is Clouseau, and any attempt to replace him is foolhardy at best. Wass is pretty good at taking a fall, but he doesn't bring any personality to the role--he's a vanilla cipher, going through the paces. The script (by Edwards and son Geoffrey) doesn't do him any favors; we spend a good chunk of the first act revisiting all of the returning regulars (didn't we just do this?), occasionally checking in with the real Clouseau, who is seen occasionally in shadows, with doubles, and recovering from plastic surgery (what is this, Plan 9 From Outer Space?). This second, more egregious attempt to put Sellers into a movie made after his death borders on exploitation (though the surgery angle does have a nice payoff, when his new face is revealed).
There are scattered laughs (Dreyfus and Sleigh's first meeting is just right, and he is the recipient of some pretty funny abuse this time around), but long stretches that just don't play--an extended sequence with a blow-up doll, for example, or an long fight scene where Sleigh is assisted by (apparently) a female martial artist. Either way, Edwards' pacing pretty much kills whatever comic momentum the film musters; the film runs a staggering 109 minutes (a good 20 too long) and feels even longer. Curse died a quick death, with both critics and filmgoers, and the series lay dormant for a full decade.
Edwards made his final attempt to revive the series in 1993 with Son of the Pink Panther (an inaccurate title, as the film concerns Clouseau's son, not the son of the titular diamond), casting Roberto Begnini (five years away from the inexplicably successful Life Is Beautiful) as Clouseu's illegitimate son, Gendarme Jacques Gambrelli (his offspring with Maria Gambrelli, the character played by Elke Sommer in A Shot In The Dark and here by Claudia Cardinale, who played a different role in the original Pink Panther. Confused?)
Gambrelli/Clouseau stumbles into a kidnapping investigation being head up by Dreyfus (Lom is in fine form here, making his final appearance in the series), who finds something familiar (and twitch-worthy) in the young detective's clutziness and accent. Begnini is actually pretty good here (probably the best of the Clouseau substitutes, and I'm no fan of his other work), but he's still no Sellers. That said, he pulls of the stunts and the accent with aplomb, even when he's trapped in some dead scenes.
The film starts well (with a wonderful opening credit sequence, inventively shot and utilizing a terrific performance of the theme by Bobby McFerrin), but the kidnapping sequence (again, played utterly straight) is a little ridiculous, particularly in the bloodless, A Team-syle machine gun deaths. The scenes introducing Begnini are pretty good, but the film goes slack in its second act, with an unfortunate scene of hospital slapstick unwisely accompanied by the "examination scene" from A Day At The Races on a television set (nothing like cutting in some Marx Brothers to invite unflattering comparisons). Begnini's attempt to masquerade as a doctor in order to get to the kidnappers falls flat (he doesn't wear a disguise, but the scene is so poorly directed, we can't tell if the kidnapper recognizes him), as do the perfunctory appearances of disguise master Dr. Balls and Cato. Son isn't terribly good, but it's more enjoyable than Trail or Curse--forgettable, but forgiveable.
Son made no noise, and it marked not only Edwards' retirement from the series, but from film directing. Most folks assumed that was the end of the Pink Panther series, but the following decade found Hollywood desperately financing remakes of any film that had ever turned a profit, and soon a Pink Panther remake/reboot/whatever was in the works, with Steve Martin as Clouseau and Sean Levy (who helmed Night at the Museum and the Cheaper By The Dozen remake) directing. Why? Who knows. Even Edwards couldn't make the films work with anyone other than Sellers, and, to put it mildly, Levy is no Edwards.
But there is a bigger problem, the problem that plagues all of the non-Sellers films, but nowhere more than here: as Roger Ebert notes in his review of The Pink Panther (2006), "The character isn't bigger than the actor, as Batman and maybe James Bond are. The character is the actor, and I had rather not see Steve Martin, who is himself inimitable, imitating Sellers." Martin isn't Clouseau--no one is but Sellers, as four of these films make very clear. But doing his own thing, Martin can be very, very funny (not so much lately, but still). That said, he is not funny here, and he has no one to blame but himself, since he co-wrote the screenplay.
Clouseau begins the film as a humble village policeman, brought in by Chief Inspector Dreyfuss (Kevin Kline, not bad) as part of an elaborate ruse. The coach of the French national soccer team has been murdered and a Pink Panther diamond ring has been stolen from his finger. Dreyfus puts the stumblebum detective in charge of the investigation, making him the public face while his crack team of investigators works in the shadows.
Fans of the series will probably be outraged by the blasphemy of including this reviled remake in the set, and rightfully so: there's not a laugh to be found in it, not one. Martin and Len Blum's script is mostly listless, with countless comic scenes just lying there, and even when they write something funny, Levy can't execute it. He knows the mechanics of slapstick, but doesn't get the musicality--there's no rhythm or style in the pratfalls, and that's one thing Edwards always got right (even without Sellers).
What's more, the performances are adrift; part of the charm of Sellers' French accent was that it was so inaccurate, but when everyone else in the film (Emily Mortimer, Kristen Chenoweth, even Kline) has a bad French accent, it blows the joke. Beyonce looks pretty and says her words in the right order, and that's about it.
Everyone tries very hard to make it work, but scene after scene lands with a thud, and then (most improbably), they try to get sentimental and serious as the film goes into the third act, as if they've earned that. About the only scene that works is Clive Owen's brief, unbilled appearance as a Bond-esque British agent, but that's a fleeting scene, and by the time Martin and Jean Reno (as his Cato stand-in) end up sharing a hotel bed, all we can think of is Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, and how much we'd rather be watching that film than this one.
The animated opening sequence of the original Pink Panther movie was so widely praised and enjoyed that the cartoon Panther enjoyed an entire life of his own outside of his regular opening-credit appearances. That first sequence was created by producer David DePatie and director Friz Freleng, veteran of countless classic Warner Brothers "Looney Tunes" cartoon shorts. After that first sequence, they continued the franchise with a series of animated cartoons, each running about six minutes long, which played theatrically and then on television throughout the sixties and seventies.
Freleng's "Looney Tunes" roots are present throughout the series; most combine the cool, aloof nature of the Bugs Bunny shorts with the antagonistic (and frequently explosive) slapstick of his encounters with Elmer Fudd or the Coyote/Road Runner cartoons. All 124 of the Pink Panther shorts are collected on the next five discs of this collection, all under the title of "The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection."
These cartoons are frequently funny, if a tad uneven. The best ones come early (discs one and two, particularly), finding our cool Panther antagonizing a squat, mustached man in white through various endeavors. Some of the best cartoons are "The Pink Phink," (the very first short, which won an Academy Award), "Dial 'P' For Pink," (in which the Panther fools a rather stupid robber), "Pink of the Litter," (which finds the Panther charged with cleaning up the considerable litter of a small town), "G.I. Pink," (a predictably funny enlistment comedy) and "Pink Pest Control" (where the Panther battles a resilient termite).
It's interesting to watch the style of these cartoons evolve over the course of the five discs. In the beginning, they are minimalist to the extreme; entire rooms are represented by a simple line drawing of a window or a door, while the backgrounds get more intricate (though prone to cost-cutting measures like repetition during chases) as the series progresses.
(Oh, and a side note: if you plan on watching a lot of these shorts consecutively, as I did, I sure hope you like Mancini's Pink Panther theme, since that song and arrangements of it make up the bulk of the music here. It begins to wear out its welcome.)
Somewhere around the middle of disc three, the cartoons start to lose their luster; there are fewer laughs and the premises start to get a little thin (I'm looking at you, "Pink Da Vinci"). Somewhere around the same time, there's a subtle shift in the dynamic of the shorts--the Panther is more frequently the victim in the later years, rather than the victimizer. Instead of foiling the little white guy, he is more frequently foiled himself by animals and other forces of nature. Again, this may have been an attempt to spin some new ideas, but it doesn't play as well.
When the Pink Panther cartoons began airing on television, they were frequently shown with other creations of the DePatie-Freleng studios. One of those was the "Ant and the Aardvark" series, released theatrically between 1969 and 1971; those 17 shorts are collected on the next disc, "The Ant & The Aardvark Cartoon Collection." Voiced by John Byner (doing his best Dean Martin and Jackie Mason impressions), these cartoons focused on the antagonistic relationship of the titular characters; it's all very Coyote/Road Runner, but far less funny. Burdened by endless unfunny dialogue, repetitive Laugh-In style music, and occasional laugh tracks from the TV airings, these shorts aren't nearly as funny as the Pink Panther shorts; this is a disc to skip, unless you're feeding some leftover nostalgia from their TV days.
More successful is "The Inspector Cartoon Collection," which takes up the next two discs. DePatie and Freleng created a Clouseau-like cartoon for A Shot In The Dark, which was then spun off into this series (much as the Panther was from the first film's opening credits). "The Inspector" also appears in the opening credits of Inspector Clouseau.
The 34 "Inspector" shorts are a lot of fun, mirroring the films to some degree and doing their own riffs on the character as well. The Inspector is voiced by Pat Herrington, who plays down the accent but otherwise does a respectable job; Herrington also voices the Inspector's faithful sidekick, St. Deux-Deux (something of a Cato stand-in). A Dreyfus-like character is also included, usually referred to as the Commissioner or the Chief, and he slow-burns nearly as well as Lom.
The final cartoon disc is "The Roland and Rattfink Cartoon Collection," compiling the 17 shorts of DePatie-Freleng's 1968-1971 series (another regular standby on the Pink Panther Show). These cartoons focus on the polar opposite characters of Roland (a handsome, bland good guy) and Rattfink (a mustachioed evil villain). Each short places the pair on either side of a conflict (Roland is a pacifist, Rattfink a warmonger; Roland is a cowboy, Rattfink an evil cattle rustler; Roland is a museum guard, Rattfink a jewel thief, and so on) and lets the chips fall. This series is modestly amusing--not as strong as the Pink Panther or Inspector shorts, but much better than the Ant and the Aardvark cartoons.
MGM is apparently going for some kind of double-dipping record with the Pink Panther films and cartoons. Many of the films were originally released separately on DVD in 1999. The Pink Panther, A Shot In The Dark, The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Revenge of the Pink Panther, and Trail of the Pink Panther were then re-mastered and re-released as the six-disc Pink Panther Film Collection in spring of 2004. Those five films, plus Inspector Clouseau, Curse of the Pink Panther, and Son of the Pink Panther, were then released individually in January of 2006 to coincide with the theatrical release of the remake. Now they've been recollected for another release in this package, along with the cartoon discs. Most of those were released individually, with the first five then collected into the Pink Panther Classic Cartoon Collection set.
But wait, there's more. This January will see the release of a different Pink Panther Film Collection, this one compiling the seven Edwards-directed efforts, and The Pink Panther and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection, which will be comprised of the nine cartoon discs in this collection. Many of the Edwards features will be individually re-released yet again. All of this is presumably to tie in to the theatrical release of the imaginatively-titled Steve Martin sequel The Pink Panther 2; we'll presumably see a new round of re-releases when that film hits video.
So really, the only thing that's exclusive to this particular incarnation of the Pink Panther collection is the packaging--though I must say, they've done an admirable job there. The set comes in a big, coffee-table-book size case, covered in fuzzy pink plastic with an elegant line drawing of the Pink Panther on the front. Inside this case you'll find two hardbound volumes. The first holds the discs on its thick, cardboard pages--three to a page, six pages total (three for the nine film discs, three for the nine cartoon discs). The second volume is an excellent hardbound collectible book, "The Pink Panther: The Ultimate Guide to the Coolest Cat In Town!" by Jerry Beck, with a forward by Blake Edwards and an introduction by David DePatie. Overall, a fine, handsome piece of packaging.
Video quality varies from disc to disc. Of the feature films, all but the remake are shot in 2.35:1 widescreen (the remake is 1.85:1). The five previously collected Edwards-Sellers films were clearly cleaned up for the 2004 release, and look very good for their age; the transfers are crisp and sharp, though some of the outtakes that provided source material for Trail look a bit more beat-up. Less care was lavished on Inspector Clouseau, Curse, and Son (what with their low-box office returns and all), so they show a bit more in the way of visible grain and dirt in the image. The 2006 version of The Pink Panther looks quite good, but that's to be expected for such a recent outing.
The cartoons show a bit more wear, but again, these are very old cartoons and were probably not particularly well-preserved. Some dirt and grain is evident, but not enough to distract.
Audio quality for the feature films matches up roughly to the video quality, with the more successful early films giving the viewer the choice of the original 2.0 stereo mix or a remastered 5.1 surround mix. The 5.1 track isn't terribly vibrant, though it is pleasing--the dialogue is clear and the track gets a shot of energy from Mancini's scores and the frequent explosions, gunshots, and other effects. The three lesser early films get the adequate but unexciting 2.0 stereo mix only, while the remake takes full advantage of the surround mix.
The cartoons are presented in mono, accurately representing their original theatrical (and later TV) presentations. They're mostly music and light effects, so the low-fi mix does the job.
For an "ultimate collection," there's not a lot in the way of bonus materials. Most of the pre-remake films come with a Theatrical Trailer and a Still Gallery, and that's about it. (There are no deleted scenes, but then again, most of those were put into Trail.) The original Pink Panther comes advertised as a "Special Edition," but its only bonus features are an Audio Commentary by Blake Edwards and an on-screen, pop-up Trivia Track. These are actually best enjoyed together; Edwards has some interesting stories to tell, but his track is punctuated by too many long pauses, so the constant on-screen text compliments him nicely. But that's it in the way of extras for those early films--they don't even bother to include the 28-minute "Pink Panther Story" featurette from the 2004 set.
The 2006 remake has a full platter of special features, but that film broke my spirit so thoroughly that I couldn't imagine sitting through that much self-congratulatory dreck; my colleague Phil Bacharach took that one for the team in his review of the stand-alone disc, which you can read here. The only special features for the cartoons are a handful of featurettes on the final disc of the Panther shorts (the esteemed John Sinnott spotlights them, and give his take on the Panther cartoons, in his review of that set here.)
The Ultimate Pink Panther Collection is a tough set to grade; the content rating, for example, is a rolling average, as there is five-star material (A Shot In The Dark), one-star material (the remake), and plenty in-between. So I'll just do the math for you: Right now, this collection is $180 on Amazon. But all of the good feature films are in the 2004 Pink Panther Film Collection set, which can be yours for a mere $40. All nine of the cartoon discs are available separately in January for $52; throw in the stand-alone Return of the Pink Panther disc not included here ($10) and you've spent a total of $102, and you're spared the bad films, with an extra good one to boot, plus you've saved $78. You're welcome. As for this set, unless you're a completist or packaging fetishist, Skip It.
Jason lives with his wife Rebekah and their two cats in New York and holds an MA in Cultural Reporting and Criticism from NYU. He is film editor for Flavorwire and is a contributor to Salon, the Atlantic, and several other publications. He blogs at Fourth Row Center and is yet another critic with a Twitter feed.