Definitions

hadst a shot

A Shot in the Dark

A Shot in the Dark is a comedy film directed by Blake Edwards and is the second installment in the Pink Panther series. Peter Sellers is featured again as Inspector Jacques Clouseau of the French Sûreté. Clouseau's bumbling personality is unchanged, but it was only in this film that Sellers began to give him the idiosyncratically exaggerated French accent that was to become a hallmark of the character. The film also introduces Herbert Lom as his boss, Commissioner Dreyfus, and Burt Kwouk as his long-suffering servant, Cato, who would both become series regulars. Elke Sommer plays the attractive Maria Gambrelli.

The film was not originally written to include Clouseau, but was an adaptation of a stage play by Harry Kurnitz adapted from the French play L'Idiote by Marcel Achard. As Blake Edwards and future The Exorcist creator William Peter Blatty began work on the script, they decided the story would be a good vehicle for the Clouseau character, and rewrote the script around the new premise. The film was released only a few months after the first Clouseau film, The Pink Panther.

Plot

Inspector Clouseau is called to the country home of a Paris plutocrat, Benjamin Ballon, to investigate a murder. Although all evidence points to the beautiful maid Maria Gambrelli, an infatuated Clouseau stubbornly refuses to admit that she is guilty. In order for the real culprits to keep the truth hidden from Clouseau's boss, Commissioner Charles Dreyfus, they must commit more murders. Each time there is a murder, Maria is arrested, and each time Clouseau sets her free. Clouseau is always at the wrong place at the right time and manages to get himself arrested by uniformed police four times in quick succession (first for selling balloons without a license, then for selling paintings without a license, then for hunting without a license, and finally for public nudity, after ending up in a nudist colony).

As Clouseau continues to bungle the case, Commissioner Dreyfus becomes increasingly agitated, resulting in his accidentally cutting off his thumb and stabbing himself with a letter-opener. An anonymous figure starts attempting to kill Clouseau, but ends killing a doorman, two cafe customers, and a Cossack dancer, thus leading to an explosive ending as all the suspects in the case – Ballon, his wife, and all of the servants were murdering each other for having love affairs, except Maurice, who was a blackmailing butler – are blown up as they attempt to escape in Clouseau's car. The anonymous bomber is revealed to be Commissioner Dreyfus, who has been driven mad by Clouseau's blunders, and, in trying to kill him, has accidentally murdered the real killers.

Characters

Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Peter Sellers)

The bumbling detective of the film (and the Pink Panther films in general), with an exaggerated French accent and an incredibly clumsy manner. He is somewhat short-sighted, comes to conclusions that would by others be thought irrational, has a lucid visual memory, and tends to be rather literally minded. Clouseau continually causes Dreyfus frustration, and this is the first of many times he drives his superior literally insane over the course of the series. He also tends to blame his blunders on others (for example, after falling into a fountain, he comments that he fell in because "...my idiot driver parked too close to the fountain").

Commissioner Charles Dreyfus (Herbert Lom)

Dreyfus is Clouseau's boss, first seen in this film. He slowly goes mad over the course of the film, and by the end he makes several attempts to kill Clouseau (the first of many examples, which result in Dreyfus being consigned to an asylum several times over the film series).

Maria Gambrelli (Elke Sommer)

Maria, the beautiful maid for the Ballon family, is framed by the killers for the murder in question. Like Clouseau, she has an unfortunate aptitude for being in the wrong place at the right time. Towards the end of the film she begins a sexual affair with him.

Kato (Burt Kwouk)

Kato is Clouseau's servant, trained in the martial arts. Clouseau, suspecting that murderers were trying to kill him, ordered a "training program" with Kato, telling him to attack "wherever and whenever I least expect it." This becomes a running gag throughout this film (and the films in general), as Kato chooses to attack his boss at the most inconvenient times, such as when there is a murderer attempting to kill Clouseau or when Clouseau is in a sexually intimate moment). The resulting fights usually destroy Clouseau's apartment, which is inexplicably rebuilt thereafter. All succeeding films would spell his name "Cato."

Benjamin Ballon (George Sanders)

Ballon is the millionaire at whose house the initial murder takes place. Due to a complex network of affairs between the various residents, the culprits continue murdering people, eventually raising the count to four. The murderers decide to pin the blame on the unsuspecting maid, with whom Clouseau becomes infatuated, forcing the perpetrators to attempt to disappear. Due to a mistake, they are all destroyed.

Hercule LaJoy (Graham Stark)

Inspector Clouseau's silently suffering assistant who is repeatedly asked to look at the evidence of the case by Clouseau and then reprimanded for jumping to the logical conclusion. His name is perhaps a play on the famous Agatha Christie protagonist Hercule Poirot. Hercule believes the chief suspect in the case to be guilty, although Clouseau, who is besotted with her, insists she is innocent and that the evidence points to someone else each time a murder is performed. In the end, Clouseau is serendipitously proved correct.

Miscellany

  • The relationship between Edwards and Sellers deteriorated to such a point that at the conclusion of the film they vowed never to work together again. They eventually reconciled to collaborate successfully four years later on The Party, and on three more "Pink Panther" films in the 1970s.
  • The character of Hercule LaJoy makes an another appearance in Revenge of the Pink Panther as the Commissioner's secretary but is not played by Graham Stark, because he played Prof. August Balls. Stark did however reprise the Hercule role in Trail of the Pink Panther.
  • Actor, writer and film director Bryan Forbes appears in a cameo role in the nudist colony scene, credited as "Turk Thrust".
  • In one episode of "Rocko's Modern Life" called 'Bedfellows', the Nudist scene has a French-Speaking Animal that tells Rocko he can't go into his backyard dressed. Resembling the Nudist scene in "A Shot in the Dark".
  • The American rock band R.E.M. named their fourth album, Lifes Rich Pageant, after one of Peter Sellers' lines in this movie.

Notes

External links

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