Inspector Clouseau disappears, and the Surete wants the world’s second best detective to look for him. However, Clouseau’s enemy, Dreyfus, rigs the Surete’s computer to select, instead, the world’s WORST detective, NYPD Sgt. Clifton Sleigh. Sleigh obtusely bungles his way past assassins and corrupt officials as though he were Clouseau’s American cousin.
Curse of the Pink Panther is a 1983 British comedy film and a continuation of The Pink Panther series of films started by Blake Edwards in the early 1960s. The film was one of two produced concurrently following the death of the series’ star Peter Sellers. Whereas the previous film Trail of the Pink Panther made use of unused footage of Sellers as Inspector Clouseau, Curse attempted to relaunch the series with a new lead, Ted Wass, as bumbling American detective Clifton Sleigh, assigned to find the missing Inspector Clouseau.
The film features a cameo by Roger Moore—as Clouseau himself—at the end of the film, This was David Niven’s final film appearance, and he died shortly before its release. This film marked Herbert Lom’s 6th outing as Chief Inspector Dreyfus. He would reprise the role one last time in Son of the Pink Panther (1993). The prized Pink Panther jewel would not return until The Pink Panther reboot in 2006.
About the Story
In Lugash, the fabled Pink Panther diamond is stolen. A mysterious woman looking to procure the priceless gem has a tete-a-tete with a man regarding price. Suddenly, Clouseau (having disappeared inexplicably on a plane flight in the previous film) bursts in. The woman shoots the man, then points the gun at Clouseau. His fate is a mystery. Meanwhile, his former superior, Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus (Herbert Lom), is pressured to oversee Operation Paragon and utilize Interpol’s fictitious Huxley Huxley 600 computer Aldous to find the world’s greatest detective to solve the crime.
What the world at large does not realize is that Clouseau was actually an inept fool whose cases were solved more through luck than actual detective genius, and that his accident-prone incompetence led Dreyfus to a series of nervous breakdowns. Anxious never to see or hear from his nemesis again, Dreyfus sabotages the computer to select the world’s worst detective. This turns out to be Sergeant Clifton Sleigh (Ted Wass), an incompetent officer of the New York Police Department.
Sleigh, who is descended from a long line of cops, sees the case as an opportunity to prove his worth. Dreyfus and his long-suffering assistant, Sergeant François Durval (André Maranne), soon find that the sabotage has worked a bit too well: while slightly more intelligent and capable, Sleigh is just as clumsy as Clouseau. When Sleigh meets Dreyfus for the first time in his office, Sleigh trips over his own feet and knocks Dreyfus into his wheeled office chair, which rolls out onto the balcony — and sends Dreyfus falling three stories into a pond below, breaking his left leg. Sleigh visits Dreyfus in the hospital to apologize, but accidentally ends up hurting Dreyfus more by falling over the hospital equipment holding Dreyfus’s leg.
As he sets out on the case, Sergeant Sleigh encounters many people who prefer Clouseau not return: these include the Inspector’s former manservant, Cato (Burt Kwouk), who attacks Sleigh when he breaks into the Clouseau Museum Cato now operates; Dreyfus, who attempts to kill Sleigh numerous times like he tried to kill Clouseau; and Bruno Langlois (Robert Loggia), the mafia boss from the previous film. Langlois orders several assassination attempts on Sleigh, but the detective’s bumbling nature allows him to survive.
Ultimately, Langlois, along with his henchmen (including Mr. Chong from Revenge of the Pink Panther) have a final showdown with Sleigh in a dark alley in Valencia, Spain, during Carnival. Juleta Shayne (Leslie Ash), an employee of the enigmatic Countess Chandra, comes to Sleigh’s rescue and manages to defeat Langlois and his thugs in street combat.
Curse of the Pink Panther (1983)
Directed by: Blake Edwards
Starring: David Niven, Robert Wagner, Herbert Lom, Joanna Lumley, Capucine, Robert Loggia, Harvey Korman, Roger Moore, Leslie Ash
Screenplay by: Blake Edwards, Geoffrey Edwards
Production Design by: Peter Mullins
Cinematography by: Dick Bush
Film Editing by: Robert Hathaway, Ralph E. Winters
Costume Design by: Patricia Edwards
Set Decoration by: Jack Stephens
Art Direction by: Tim Hutchinson, John Siddall, Alan Tomkins
Music by: Henry Mancini
Distributed by: Metro Goldwyn Mayer, United Artists
Release Date: August 12, 1983