YESSS! We are going to have another National Celebration Day, and I know it's true because HALLMARK ULTIMATE HOLIDAYS tells me; they should know. Did you ever wonder why we have so many holidays especially dozens you've never heard of? Easy to guess; because card companies like HALLMARK knows we are all suckers and sentimental goof balls. Yep that is us; there's a holiday per HALLMARK for every day of the year; a good segue into my column this week: Today is NATIONAL PINK DAY! And here is more useless information. The color Pink became popular not because women loved to wear it; no, men first started wearing the color when rowing teams from Eton and Westminster (UK) competed to use the color of pink for their uniforms in the 19th century. We associate Pink to women, girl babies, breast cancer awareness, lemonade and cotton candy.
PINK PANTHER movie 1963
But this is a column associated with movie reviews and actors, so what movie off the top of your head is linked to the color "PINK?" The first that comes to mind is THE PINK PANTHER and subsequent sequels. I can't imagine anyone on this planet (except natives of the rain forest) not knowing something about the movie starring Inspector Jacques Clouseau, sleuth extraordinaire, who tracks down an International jewelry thief who stole the infamous Pink Panther diamond and murdered a French Soccer Coach.
The original version starring Peter Sellers was released in 1963 and frankly my favorite although the 2006 version starring Steve Martin, is a side tickler! There have been 11 releases including squeals over the years with featured artists Alan Arkin (1968), Roger Moore (1983), and Steve Martin (2006) The Pink Panther animation first appeared in the 1963 intro credits which continued on to spawn cartoons, TV series, comic books and an Academy Award.
Steve Martin as Inspector Clouseau
Producer and screenwriter, Blake Edwards was the genius behind THE PINK PANTHER as well as such movie greats as BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S and the TV series PETER GUNN. The music of Henri Mancini produced for these films is part and parcel of the successes realized for THE PINK PANTHER. Mancini won five Grammy awards and two Oscars for his famous song MOON RIVER and the entire soundtrack for BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S. The relationship over the years of Blake Edwards, Peter Sellers and Henri Mancini is unforgettable in the film industry.
THE PINK PANTHER series of films showcased a bumbling, fumbling and a somewhat OCD Inspector Clouseau. I remember thinking, "how could anyone be so stupid?" It was comedy supposedly at its best, but at times also very unbelievable that anyone could get through a single day meeting one disaster after another. The blunders continue to follow Clouseau as he honed into the perpetrator of crime, Sir Charles Lytton also called "the Phantom" (played by David Nevin) along with his nephew George (played by Robert Wagner.) It brings to mind the movie CLUE and how the inspector in that film seems to replicate some of the antics made famous by Peter Sellers. In later years that same technique was made famous by Peter Faulk as COLUMBO in the TV series, yet Faulk being a messy slob of a guy (yet brilliant) was the antithesis to the debonair (but clueless) Cousteau.
In my opinion, the first half of the film drags along with rampant oneliners . It just doesn't have the spark you would expect. It seems that David Niven is to be the leading actor, and as many have noted over the years, Peter Sellers as Clouseau took the limelight which catapulted his comedic career into high gear, yet didn't seem to fully evolve as Clouseau until the next film, A SHOT IN THE DARK. It
was only in the second half of the movie we see Sellers pick up his game. The scenes with the two gorillas in costume robbing the same safe looking for the Panther diamond; the very long but outrageous bedroom scene leading to one of the best staged car chase scenes in cinema, repeatedly circling a roundabout and crashing; places the film in my opinion in the 5-star category especially considering movie technology back in 1963.
Famous Pink Panther Animation
Trivia: The original casting of the characters had Peter Ustinov playing Clouseau and Ava Gardner as Simone, the love interest paramour of Sir Charles as well as wife of Inspector Clouseau. The Diva Ava later backed out due to contract negotiations concerning her perk requests for living on location; Peter chose to also later leave causing production to stall without the key characters on board. Sellers was then chosen by Director Blake with the hope that Janet Leigh (wife of Robert Wagner) would play Simone. Of course THAT never happened and the role of Simone was finally played by Capucine; French actress and model who we know from the movie WHAT'S NEW PUSSYCAT? (1965)
As a side-road comment: another character comes to mind when I think of all the mishaps that plague Detective Cousteau: the role of Eugene Levy as Kornbluth, an investigative scientist who believes there are mermaids in Cape Cod Bay. The movie SPLASH with Tom Hanks, John Candy and Daryl Hannah has Kornbluth hit by a car, broke an arm, lost his glasses, cracked a tooth, and got beat up when trying to spray water on the mermaid.
The famous pink panther character was created by Fritz Freleng in 1963 after a long successful career beginning in the 1920's working with Disney. To his credit, Freleng's work with Warner Brothers brought the characters we all know and love: Speedy Gonzalez,
Yosemite Sam, Porky Pig, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Sylvester and Tweety. These were all part of a group of animations called Merry Melodies. Can you imagine life without Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig? I grew up with them, loved then as those later connected with the Sesame Street characters of Burt and Ernie.
Did you ever see these comic books?
The pink panther character became a movie star in its own right in 1964 after he took audiences by storm with the movie THE PINK PANTHER. Freleng agreed with United Artists Productions to create a series of short feature quick-takes with the first being a 7 minute film called THE PINK PHLINK. This movie has the panther stalking The Little White Guy (as the character was called, fashioned after the looks of Freleng himself) who is a painter. Every time he tries to paint buildings and homes various colors, the panther turned it to his favorite color....you got it, pink. There were a total of 124 of these short takes, some seen in the movie theaters and others on television. The first two films didn't have the panther speaking, but in later takes, Rich Little as Clouseau would mimic the voice of David Niven and continued doing so throughout the series.
NBC in 1969 took on the pink panther animated character creating cartoons known as THE PINK PANTHER SHOW but nine years later, moved to ABC where it only lasted one season. Throughout the Cousteau series as well as the highly successful career of the pink panther animation, Henri Mancini's theme song became synonymous with PINK PANTHER movies, TV shows and commercials.
I'll leave with this thought that I saw on a blog site you do NOT want to know where. The discussion was about the Pink Panther hooking up with the Energizer bunny and creating Bunnypants, pink of course. Think we should put that in the suggestion box for Hugh Heffner?
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Jun 28, 2012 3:50 PM
|Steve Martin as Inspector Clousseau? Not even close. Just some producer or other trying to spend millions to maybe capture the genius that was Peter Sellers. I'm afraid I put Martin in with the likes of Sandler, Stiller, Ferrell and Vaughn who consistently confuse stupid with funny. Enjoyed your column.|
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I've been writing about anything and everything all my life: fiction, research projects, speeches and term papers for anyone who needed help. I'm a single Mom with all kids out of the nest, and now have time to really enjoy my writing passion. While finishing my courses for my MBA, I developed a burning desire to actually publish some of my work in fiction as well as research white paper on most anything that interests me. I work for a national retail food brand as a construction project manager which is my DAY job; and hope to increase my exposure as an author and ghost writer as well as write articles and commentaries for various venues. . |
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