In home video collections of the Pink Panther films, room is generally made for the post-Sellers films made with Blake Edwards at the helm: Trail, (available in Shout! Factory's Blu-ray box set), Curse, and Son of the Pink Panther. However, there is one more redheaded stepchild of the franchise, the series' Never Say Never Again, 1968's Inspector Clouseau. Produced in a gap where both Sellers and Edwards had stepped away from the series, this entry enlists Alan Arkin to fill the bumbling detective's shoes. The film also ditches the diamond (and corresponding animated animal), the Henry Mancini music, and the series' stable of recurring supporting characters. Arkin generally acquits himself, but the film is a disappointment.
In Europe, a string of high-stakes robberies are committed, and there is strong suspicion that a mole inside Scotland Yard is assisting with the heists. With the police force theoretically compromised by such an insider, Commissioner Sir Charles Braithwaite (Patrick Cargill) enlists outside help in the form of Clouseau. With numerous assassins tailing him, Clouseau and Superintendent of Police Weaver (Frank Finlay) do their best to tolerate one another in order to try and solve the case. Meanwhile, the criminals plan their most elaborate heist yet -- one which accounts for Clouseau's presence in a unique way.
The film gets off to a decent start introducing Arkin as Clouseau. His version of the character is best during bits of physical business rather than moving the plot forward or working with the script's idea of funny scenarios or dialogue. Highlights include his attempts to be reunited with his shoes after deboarding a plane, his inexplicable shifts around an office as Braithwaite attempts to speak to him, his aggressive use of a metal detector prop when he suspects a bomb inside a dessert won at a carnival, and the use of buttons to try and trick an operator into connecting a long distance phone call. Not only is Arkin at his best in these moments, but they're also the moments where the character feels most in keeping with the Clouseau from the rest of the Edwards/Sellers entries. Other sequences, such as one where he compulsively sings into a tape recorder, or a crisis of confidence where he even admits he's not a good detective feel like some other character.
The rest of the film feels off-formula as well. In one of the film's early scenes, Weaver arms Clouseau with a number of spy gadgets, which is more 007 than Pink Panther (the Balls disguises notwithstanding). The film's central heist plot, which involves a whole gang of thieves wearing Clouseau masks in order to steal millions from multiple banks at the same time and sneak them out of the country in the wrappers of Lindt candy bars, is conceptually clever but mostly just eats up time, building to a simultaneously indulgent and half-assed sequence where Clouseau fights himself. Director Bud Yorkin is torn between using it to put something dazzling on the screen (there is one optical shot doubling arkin), but also largely cheating the effect, resorting to embarrassingly obvious body doubles and hiding Clouseau's head in a trash can for most of the action. In the end, the use of multiple Clouseaus can't even be considered much of a testament to Arkin's ability, as he is dubbed over in all the sequences with "masked" Clouseau.
Although the movie is relatively short, clocking in at only 98 minutes, it feels much longer, possibly because the heist and multiple car chases aren't very funny or exciting. In the absence of characters like Dreyfus and Kato, the film wastes time elsewhere, introducing an Interpol agent (Delia Boccardo) who has little purpose than being either a love interest or a kidnapping victim, and a lengthy sequence and recurring gag where Clouseau is suckered into going on a date with Weaver's wife (Beryl Reid), which feels mean-spirited for a number of reasons. Another, in which Clouseau ends up in a hotel room with a beautiful brunette (Katya Wyeth) who mysteriously turns into a beautiful blonde (Tracey Crisp) has more snap to it but still lacks much in the way of laughs.
The Video and Audio
An original theatrical trailer for Inspector Clouseau is also included, as are trailers for Curse of the Pink Panther, Son of the Pink Panther, and The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! and After the Fox.