The Return of the Pink Panther: Wikis


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The Return of the Pink Panther

original movie poster
Directed by Blake Edwards
Produced by Blake Edwards
Written by Frank Waldman
Blake Edwards
Starring Peter Sellers
Christopher Plummer
Herbert Lom
Catherine Schell
Music by Henry Mancini
Cinematography Geoffrey Unsworth
Editing by Tom Priestly
Studio ITC Entertainment
United Artists
Jewel Productions
Pimlico Productions
Distributed by United Artists
Release date(s) May 21 1975
Running time 114 mins
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Preceded by Inspector Clouseau
Followed by The Pink Panther Strikes Again

The Return of the Pink Panther is the fourth film in the Pink Panther series, released in 1975. The film stars Peter Sellers in the role of Inspector Clouseau in his third Panther appearance, after the original The Pink Panther and A Shot in the Dark.

Herbert Lom also reprises his role as Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus. The film also features the return of the character Sir Charles Lytton (the notorious Phantom), now played by Christopher Plummer rather than David Niven, who was unavailable but would later return for Trail of the Pink Panther. The Pink Panther diamond once again plays a central role in the plot.



The bumbling of Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers) has resulted in his being demoted to beat cop by his boss, Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus (Herbert Lom), who despises Clouseau to the point of obsession. However, the French government forces Dreyfus to reinstate Clouseau as the Inspector of the Sûreté so that he can go to the fictional Middle Eastern nation of Lugash to investigate the theft of the fabled Pink Panther diamond, which has once again been stolen.

Clouseau's investigations at the Lugash National Museum, which he nearly destroys, lead him to believe that Sir Charles Lytton (Christopher Plummer), the notorious Phantom, is re-creating the most infamous heist of his career. Clouseau is delighted at this, and sees this as his only chance to get his revenge on Lytton for framing him and temporarily sending him to prison in the first film. Although Clouseau fails to uncover any leads into the theft, his bumbling allows him to survive several attempts on his life by a mysterious assassin. After staking out, and nearly demolishing, Lytton Manor in Nice, Clouseau is tricked into leaving France. He follows Sir Charles' wife, Lady Claudine (Catherine Schell) to a resort hotel in Gstaad, Switzerland, where his attempts to investigate her repeatedly fail.

Meanwhile, Sir Charles reads about the theft and realizes that he has been framed. He goes to Lugash to investigate, encountering various underworld figures of old acquaintance, and foils several attempts on his life. Lytton eventually manages to discover the identity of the true thief – his wife, Lady Claudine. Because they were both bored with their quiet retirement, she stole the diamond for her own excitement, then sent her husband on a wild goose chase for his. Sir Charles makes a daring escape from Lugash and goes to Gstaad to find his wife and the diamond.

Inspector Clouseau, who has unknowingly been on the trail of the real thief all along, receives a telephone call from Chief Inspector Dreyfus telling him to arrest Lady Claudine. However, when Clouseau calls Dreyfus back to ask why, he is informed that Dreyfus has been on vacation for the past week. Dreyfus, now revealed as the assassin trying to kill Clouseau, prepares to shoot him with a sniper rifle as soon as he enters Lady Claudine's room.

Lady Claudine playfully confesses the theft to her husband, and hands the diamond over to him, so he can go about proving his innocence. They are cornered by Colonel Sharky (Peter Arne) of the Lugash Secret Police, who intends to kill them both. It turns out the Lugashi government has been using the theft of the diamond as an excuse to purge their political opponents. Just then, Clouseau barges into the room to arrest the Lyttons. Sir Charles points out that Colonel Sharky is going to kill them all, and Clouseau buffoonishly attempts to arrest Sharky. Suddenly, Dreyfus opens fire on the room, and manages to accidentally kill Sharky while aiming at Clouseau, who has ducked at the last minute to check his fly. During the fray, Clouseau is forced to allow the Lyttons to escape.

For his work in recovering the Pink Panther, Clouseau is promoted to Chief Inspector, and vows to bring Sir Charles, who has resumed his crime spree, to justice. Lady Claudine's fate is not revealed to the audience, but it is implied she was not arrested. Dreyfus is committed to a lunatic asylum, where he is straightjacketed and placed inside a rubber room, vowing revenge on Clouseau.


Production notes

  • Richard Williams, the creator of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Thief and the Cobbler, and Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure, did the animated open and close 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.
  • 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. This magnifies the impression that Lady Lytton sees Clouseau as "cute" rather than as a real threat. These scenes are frequently proferred as classic examples of corpsing, and it was not uncharacteristic of Sellers to goad his fellow actors to break character, but Schell has maintained in various interviews that she always considered it in character for Lady Lytton to be amused at Clouseau's antics.
  • The scene in which Sir Charles Lytton arrives at his hotel in Lugash is an obvious homage to the film Casablanca (which, at the time of Return's release, was owned by UA). The song "As Time Goes By" can be clearly heard playing on a piano in the background. As Sir Charles meets with his contact he also asks for "The Fat Man" (a reference to the rather large Sydney Greenstreet, who played Señor Ferrari in Casablanca), and tells the contact to have a drink of Renault (the name of Claude Rains' French police prefect character).
  • Carol Cleveland, known to many for her regular appearances on Monty Python's Flying Circus, has a small part as a swimming pool diver.

Ownership and Distribution History

Like the previous three Panther films, The Return of the Pink Panther was released by United Artists. However, United Artists was not directly involved in the production of this film.

At the time of its release, UA sold their rights to independent company ITC Entertainment, which intended to make a Pink Panther television miniseries starring Sellers and Lom. However, early in pre-production, ITC made the decision to make a feature film.

As of the present, UA continues to hold the copyright as well as theatrical distribution rights (as MGM currently holds theatrical rights to the ITC feature film library). When the film made its television premiere in 1976, UA also held television rights until ITC, by contract, took over television syndication, which is why for later TV airings the ITC television logo, instead of the then-current UA/Transamerica logo, preceded the film. But in 2008, UA (via sister company MGM) acquired, for the first time ever, domestic television syndication and internet distribution rights (the MGM logo precedes current internet and television airings of The Return of the Pink Panther). However, those are the only rights UA has to this film.

Due to rights issues and management changes involving ITC Entertainment, MGM/UA did not originally hold select ancillary rights beyond their original theatrical distribution license. As a result, other video companies (under license from ITC) such as CBS/Fox Video and Live Entertainment (as well as Live's successor Artisan Entertainment) handled home video versions. These issues caused The Return of the Pink Panther to enter litigation for a brief time, which is why MGM Home Entertainment did not include The Return of the Pink Panther in a 2004 DVD box set of Pink Panther films or the 2008 "Ultimate" collection, and will not do so for future collections.

MGM was also not given permission to include material from this movie in its 2006 publication "Pink Panther: The Ultimate Guide to the Coolest Cat in Town", although footage from the movie does appear in the ending credits of Trail of the Pink Panther, since they could include it in a feature film and the film's home video release.

The remaining rights to The Return of the Pink Panther outside of domestic media distribution have reverted to Universal Pictures (via its Focus Features division), which recently assumed the video rights from Artisan/Lions Gate Home Entertainment. Universal Pictures/Focus Features portion of the rights are in partnership with ITC's successor-in-interest ITV Global Entertainment Ltd..


The film opens with Clouseau on a street beat, arguing with a blind street minstrel and his Chimpanzee monkey if he had a license. Meanwhile, Clouseau is totally unaware of a bank heist going on in the background, and even returns a dropped wad of bills back to the robbers whilst engaged in an argument with the minstrel. He then proceeds to knock out the bank manager who comes running outside wielding a pistol. Clouseau pronounces "license" as something sounding like "le sanz", and "monkey" as "muin-key" or "minkey," continuing the hilarious vaudeville slant of the film. Later he is questioned by his superior, the Chief Inspector Dreyfus:

  • Chief Inspector Dreyfus: "The beggar was the lookout man for the gang."
  • Inspector Clouseau: "That is impossible."
  • Chief Inspector Dreyfus: "Why?"
  • Inspector Clouseau: "Because he was blind. How can a blind man be a lookout?"
  • Chief Inspector Dreyfus: "How can an idiot be a policeman? Answer me that!"
  • Inspector Clouseau: "Well, that is very simple. All he has to do is enlist."
  • Chief Inspector Dreyfus: "Shut up!"


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