The Return of the Pink Panther

The Return of the Pink Panther

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Blake Edwards
Produced by Blake Edwards
Written by Frank Waldman
Blake Edwards
Starring Peter Sellers
Christopher Plummer
Catherine Schell
Herbert Lom
Music by Henry Mancini
Cinematography Geoffrey Unsworth
Edited by Tom Priestly
ITC Entertainment
Jewel Productions
Pimlico Productions
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • 21 May 1975 (1975-05-21)
Running time
114 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $5 million
Box office $41.8 million[1]

The Return of the Pink Panther in DeLuxe Color and Panavision is the fourth film in The Pink Panther series, released in 1975. The film stars Peter Sellers in the role of Inspector Clouseau, returning to the part for the first time since A Shot in the Dark (1964), after having declined to reprise the role in Inspector Clouseau (1968). The film was a commercial hit and revived a previously dormant series.

Herbert Lom reprises his role as Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus from A Shot in the Dark; he remained a regular thereafter. The character of Sir Charles Lytton, the notorious Phantom, is now played by Christopher Plummer rather than David Niven (as in The Pink Panther, 1963), who was unavailable. The Pink Panther diamond once again plays a central role in the plot.


In the fictional country of Lugash, a mysterious thief seizes the Pink Panther diamond and leaves a white glove marked with a gold-tinted "P". With its national treasure once again missing, the Shah of Lugash requests the assistance of Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers) of the Sûreté, as Clouseau had recovered the diamond the last time it was stolen. Clouseau has been temporarily demoted to beat cop by his boss, Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus (Herbert Lom), who despises him to the point of obsession, but the French government forces Dreyfus to reinstate him. Clouseau joyously receives the news after fending off a surprise attack from his servant Cato (Burt Kwouk), who had been ordered to keep the Inspector on his toes, and duly goes to Lugash.

Upon examining the crime scene in the national museum — in which he wrecks several priceless antiquities — Clouseau concludes that the glove implicates Sir Charles Lytton (Christopher Plummer), alias "the notorious Phantom," as the thief. After several catastrophic failures to stake out Lytton Manor in Nice (which he nearly demolishes), Clouseau believes a mysterious assassin is attempting to kill him. He follows Sir Charles' wife, Lady Claudine (Catherine Schell), to a resort hotel in Gstaad in search of clues to her husband, where he repeatedly bungles the investigation and wrecks her hotel room using an overly powerful vacuum cleaner.

Meanwhile, Sir Charles, reading about the theft, realizes he has been framed. Arriving in Lugash to clear his name, Sir Charles barely avoids being murdered and sent to the Lugash secret police by his associate known as the "Fat Man" (Eric Pohlmann), who explains that with the leading suspect dead, the secret police will no longer have an excuse to continue purging their political enemies. Escaping to his suite, Lytton finds secret police Colonel Sharki (Peter Arne) waiting for him, who implies the Fat Man's understanding is correct, but reminds him the diamond must be recovered eventually. Pretending to cooperate, Sir Charles is unable to hide his reaction when he recognizes his own wife in disguise on the museum's security footage. He avoids another plot by the Fat Man and his duplicitous underling Pepi (Graham Stark) and escapes from Lugash, secretly pursued by Sharki, who believes Sir Charles will lead him to the diamond.

Still in Gstaad, Clouseau, who unwittingly has been on the trail of the real thief all along, is suddenly ordered by Dreyfus over the telephone to arrest Lady Lytton. When Clouseau calls back to clarify the order, however, he is told that Dreyfus has been on vacation. Sir Charles confronts Lady Claudine, who admits she did it to spark excitement in their sedate existences, but not before the Colonel gets there first. However, just as Colonel Sharki prepares to kill them both, the Inspector barges in — and in the process, Dreyfus, the "mysterious assassin" trying to kill Clouseau from the beginning, accidentally kills the Colonel instead.

For once again recovering the Pink Panther, Clouseau is promoted to Chief Inspector, while Sir Charles resumes his career as a jewel thief (Lady Claudine's fate is not mentioned). At a Japanese restaurant in the epilogue, Cato unexpectedly attacks Clouseau again and triggers a massive brawl, naturally destroying the premises. In a (literal) mid-credits scene, Dreyfus is committed to a lunatic asylum for his actions, where he is straitjacketed inside a padded cell and vows revenge on Clouseau. The animated Pink Panther appears and films his antics, and concludes the credits with a smoke ring.


You can rest assured that there's trouble, because Inspector Clouseau is on the case. (That's the trouble.)


Production notes

In the early 1970s, Blake Edwards wrote a 15-20 page outline for another Pink Panther film and presented it to series producer Walter Mirisch. The producer loved the idea, but the franchise's distributor and main backer, United Artists, rejected the film as they had no intention to work with Edwards nor Peter Sellers, whose careers had declined.[2]

Then British producer Lew Grade agreed to finance two films for Blake Edwards as part of a deal to get Julie Andrews to make a TV show for him. The first movie was The Tamarind Seed. Edwards wanted to make a project set in Canada called Rachel and the Stranger, but Grade disliked the idea and offered to buy Edwards out of the second commitment. Edwards wanted to make a second movie; however, in order to help restore his reputation in Hollywood. Grade said he then suggested making a Pink Panther film and Edwards agreed, if Sellers would agree to do it. Grade talked Sellers into it and the project was on.[3] UA agreed to give The Return of the Pink Panther to Grade in exchange for world distribution and a share of the profits;[2] thereafter, Grade's company would permanently own worldwide rights to the film.[4] Grade said that Eric Pleskow of United Artists was offered the chance to come into the movie as a partner but declined, thinking the movie would be a failure; he only wanted UA to distribute.[3]

Richard Williams, later the animation director on Who Framed Roger Rabbit, did the animated open and closing titles for this picture and The Pink Panther Strikes Again, due to DePatie-Freleng's work on the Pink Panther shorts and other cartoon projects for TV and film. Williams got help animating this from two animation legends, Ken Harris and Art Babbitt.

Catherine Schell can be seen laughing on at least two occasions in the film: once when Clouseau impersonates a telephone repairman to infiltrate her home, and again when he meets her in a restaurant and pretends to be "Guy Gadbois," a ladies' man; in the latter, the scene appears to cut suddenly as she starts choking on her drink from laughing. This magnifies the impression that Lady Lytton sees Clouseau as amusing and no real threat. These scenes are frequently proffered as classic examples of corpsing, and it was not uncharacteristic of Sellers to goad his fellow actors to break character. Nonetheless, Schell has maintained in various interviews that she always considered it in character for Lady Lytton to be amused at Clouseau's antics.

Carol Cleveland, best known for her regular appearances on Monty Python's Flying Circus, has a small part as a swimming pool diver.

Home Media release

The film had been released on VHS, Betamax, CED, and Laserdisc a few times in the 1980s by Magnetic Video, CBS/Fox Video, and J2 Communications respectively.

In 1996, LIVE Home Video under the Family Home Entertainment label re-released the film on VHS as part of the Family Home Entertainment Theater lineup and on a Widescreen Laserdisc. In 1999, Artisan Entertainment (LIVE's successor) re-released the film for the final time on VHS and also released it on DVD for the first time. The only bonus material seen on this release were cast filmographies, production notes and the film's original theatrical trailer.

In 2006, Universal Studios Home Entertainment under Focus Features re-released the film on a bare-bones DVD. In 2016, the film was released in the UK on Blu-ray by Fabulous Entertainment.


  1. "The Return of the Pink Panther, Box Office Information". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
  2. 1 2 Mirisch, Walter (2008). I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History (pp. 170-171). University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, Wisconsin. ISBN 0-299-22640-9.
  3. 1 2 Lew Grade, Still Dancing: My Story, William Collins & Sons 1987 p 227-228
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