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Film
In the third Pink Panther film, the diamond is stolen once again, and once again Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers) is called in to recover the famous jewel. After stealing the diamond, the thief leaves a white glove embroidered with a gold P in its place - causing Clouseau to jump to the conclusion that The Phantom (aka Sir Charles Litton, played by Christopher Plummer) has returned to his life of crime after his supposed retirement four years previously.

This news comes as a slight surprise to Sir Charles Litton, who actually has retired. In order to clear his name, and to avoid prison, he decides to go capture the real thief himself.

Meanwhile, Clouseau is carrying out his investigation in his own, inimitable way - causing mayhem wherever he goes! He travels to the South of France, in search of Litton (who, of course, isn't there). When Litton's wife discovers this, she leads Clouseau on a wild goose chase. Typically, Clouseau blunders his way through his investigation, calling in his manservant Cato to help find the diamond, resulting in even more catastrophe.

Throughout all this, Clouseau's boss Chief Inspector Dreyfus (the excellent Herbert Lom) is getting more and more exasperated with Clouseau's adventures, until in an attempt to rid himself of Clouseau forever, he attempts to have him killed.

As Clouseau's attempts to find the diamond intensify, so his disguises get more ridiculous, and increasingly comic. Of course, Clouseau has no chance of actually discovering who stole The Pink Panther, so it is left up to Litton who does a remarkably good job while trying to clear his name...

In the climax to the film, Dreyfus resorts to attempting to shoot Clouseau at close range and inadvertantly saves the day - before being carted off to a mental institution, leaving Clouseau to take over the job of Chief Inspector.

Video
Unfortunately, the version I have is presented in 4:3. It also suffers from having possibly the worst picture I have ever seen on DVD. I know the film is old, but a classic comedy like this should have been given the remastered treatment - or at the very least the transfer could have been in its original aspect ratio!

The picture is full of blemishes. It looks very washed out in places, and in any scene that was dark (most of the robbery at the start for instance), the print seems to be faded at the top and bottom of the screen. It appears to be like this all the way through, but it isn't overly noticable during the daylight scenes at least. It also tends to jump about a lot in places.

Return Of The Pink Panther, The
Also, the pan-and-scan used is laughable at times : the entire picture almost pauses whilst it gets swung from side to side! At some points, when pan-and-scan is used, it makes you wonder why? In one scene, the picture swings over to a chap on the right of the frame, and a second or two later, the chap on the left starts talking... It just makes the film harder to watch, knowing that it could have been so much better. In fact, if you have any friends that think widescreen is pointless, show them this - it certainly highlights how bad pan-and-scan can be!

Audio
The soundtrack is in stereo - and while I have no problem with this (in fact, I wouldn't expect much else from a film of this age), the quality is nearly as bad as the picture. Pops and crackles are commonplace, and when there is any gunfire, it sounds terrible - very very indistinct. When there is silence, it is even worse, as there is nothing to mask the static.

Extras
Extras? What extras? Oh yes, the 'Stills Gallery' - a fairly pointless collection of 10 stills, the majority of which seem to be taken directly from the film. The only good point about them seems to be that the picture quality is far higher than of the film itself!

Overall
If the film wasn't for Peter Sellers genius portrayal of Clouseau, and Herbert Lom's fantastic 'man on the edge', it would be a fairly boring, untaxing comedy. As it is, the film is a fairly boring, untaxing comedy with flashes of comic inspiration from Sellers (witness the Hoover scene). I would say that it's definitely worth a watch though, especially if you are a fan of Sellers or of early 70s comedy! However, I would say this particular disk isn't worth buying - not when you can probably pick up the VHS version for a couple of quid. I dare say though, that a boxset of all the Pink Panther films, including some decent extras (some of the cartoons for instance, or one of the many TV appearances Sellers made), and a nicely remastered picture in its original aspect ratio will surface at some point in the future.

If you do want to buy this disk, I would suggest you go for the R1 version (if you can!), because it gets a widescreen transfer and the theatrical trailer instead of 4:3 and the stills gallery.


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