The Pink Panther Strikes Again

The Pink Panther Strikes Again is a 1976 American British comedy film. It is the fifth film in The Pink Panther series and the third to include the phrase Pink Panther in its title, although the Pink Panther diamond is not part of the story. The plot picks up three years after The Return of the Pink Panther, with former Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) about to be released from a psychiatric prison after having been driven mad by Inspector Jacques Clouseau's (Peter Sellers) bumbling in the previous film. A typically disastrous visit from Clouseau prompts a relapse which cancels Dreyfus's planned discharge, but he soon escapes anyway and organizes an elaborate plot to threaten the countries of the world with annihilation by a massive laser weapon if they do not assassinate Clouseau for him.

The Pink Panther Strikes Again
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBlake Edwards
Produced byBlake Edwards
Tony Adams (Associate Producer)
Screenplay byFrank Waldman
Blake Edwards
StarringPeter Sellers
Herbert Lom
Lesley-Anne Down
Burt Kwouk
Leonard Rossiter
Music byHenry Mancini
CinematographyHarry Waxman
Edited byAlan Jones
Amjo Productions
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • 15 December 1976 (1976-12-15) (US)
  • 22 December 1976 (1976-12-22) (UK)
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
United States
Budget$6 million
Box office$33,833,201 (US) [1]

Unused footage from the film was later included in Trail of the Pink Panther (1982), after Sellers' death.


At a psychiatric hospital, former Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) is largely recovered from his obsession to kill the new Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Peter Sellers) and is about to be released when Clouseau, arriving to speak on Dreyfus' behalf, within minutes drives Dreyfus insane again. Dreyfus later escapes from the hospital and once again tries to kill Clouseau by planting a bomb while the Inspector (by periodic arrangement) duels with his manservant Cato (Burt Kwouk). The bomb destroys Clouseau's apartment and injures Cato, but Clouseau himself is unharmed, being lifted from the room by an inflatable disguise. Deciding that a more elaborate plan is needed to eliminate Clouseau, Dreyfus enlists an army of criminals to his cause and kidnaps nuclear physicist Professor Hugo Fassbender (Richard Vernon) and the Professor's daughter Margo (Briony McRoberts), forcing the professor to build a "doomsday weapon" in return for his daughter's freedom.

Clouseau travels to England to investigate Fassbender's disappearance, where he wrecks their family home and ineptly interrogates Jarvis (Michael Robbins), Fassbender's cross-dressing butler. Although Jarvis is later killed by the kidnappers, to whom he had become a dangerous witness, Clouseau discovers a clue that leads him to the Oktoberfest in Munich, West Germany. Meanwhile, Dreyfus, using Fassbender's invention, disintegrates the United Nations headquarters in New York City and blackmails the leaders of the world, including the President of the United States and his Secretary of State (based on Gerald Ford and Henry Kissinger), into assassinating Clouseau. However, many of the nations instruct their operatives to kill Clouseau to gain Dreyfus's favor and possibly the Doomsday Machine. As a result of their orders and Clouseau's obliviousness, seven out of the eleven of the assassins end up killing one another until only the agents of Egypt and Russia remain.

The Egyptian assassin (Omar Sharif) shoots one of Dreyfus' assassins, mistaking him for Clouseau, but is seduced by the Russian operative Olga Bariosova (Lesley-Anne Down), who makes the same mistake. When the real Clouseau arrives, he is perplexed by Olga's affections but learns from her Dreyfus's location at a castle in Bavaria. Dreyfus is elated at the erroneous report of Clouseau's demise, but suffers from a toothache; Clouseau, disguised as an old German dentist, eventually sneaks into the castle, (earlier his entry has been repeatedly frustrated by the castle's drawbridge). Not recognized by Dreyfus, Clouseau ends up intoxicating both of them with nitrous oxide. Realizing who Clouseau is when 'the dentist' mistakenly pulls the wrong tooth, a vengeful and now totally insane Dreyfus prepares to use the machine to destroy England. Clouseau, eluding Dreyfus's henchmen, unwittingly foils Dreyfus's plans when a medieval catapult outside the castle launches him on top of the Doomsday machine, causing it to malfunction and fire on Dreyfus and the castle itself. As the remaining henchmen, Fassbender and his daughter, and eventually Clouseau himself escape the dissolving castle, Dreyfus plays "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" on the castle's pipe organ while he himself disintegrates, until he and the castle vanish.

Returning to Paris, Clouseau is finally reunited with Olga. However, their tryst is interrupted first by Clouseau's apparent inability to remove his clothes, and then by Cato's latest surprise attack, which causes all three to be hurled into the river Seine when the reclining bed snaps back upright. Immediately thereafter, a cartoon image of Clouseau emerges from the water, which has been tinted pink, and begins swimming, unaware that a gigantic version of the Pink Panther character is waiting below him with a sharp-toothed, open mouth (a reference to the film Jaws, made further obvious by the thematic music). The film ends when the animated Clouseau gets chased by the Pink Panther as the credits roll.


Cast notes

  • Owing to Peter Sellers's heart condition, whenever possible he would have his stunt double Joe Dunne stand in for him. Because of the often physical nature of the comedy, this would occur quite frequently.
  • Julie Andrews provided the singing voice for the female-impersonator "Ainsley Jarvis".[2] The scene in the nightclub when Jarvis sings is in many ways similar to scenes in Edwards's later film Victor Victoria (1982), in which Andrews plays a woman pretending to be a man who is a female impersonator.
  • Graham Stark, a longtime friend of Sellers, once again made an appearance in the series, albeit in a small role as the desk clerk of a small German hotel. Since his role as Hercule LaJoy in A Shot in the Dark, he has appeared in small roles in every Pink Panther sequel except Inspector Clouseau, in which Sellers did not play Clouseau.
  • Omar Sharif appeared, uncredited, as the Egyptian assassin.
  • Tom Jones sang the Oscar-nominated song "Come to Me".
  • The role of Olga Bariosova was originally played by Maud Adams, who was replaced after filming a few scenes. Blake Edwards then intended to cast Nicola Pagett after seeing her in Upstairs, Downstairs but instead ended up casting Pagett's castmate Lesley-Anne Down in the role.
  • Blake Edwards made a cameo appearance in the background of the nightclub scene.


The Pink Panther Strikes Again was rushed into production owing to the success of The Return of the Pink Panther.[3] Blake Edwards had used one of two scripts that he and Frank Waldman had written for a proposed "Pink Panther" TV series as the basis for that film, and he used the other as the starting point for Strikes Again. As a result, it is the only Pink Panther movie which has a storyline (Dreyfus in the insane asylum) that explicitly follows on from the previous film.

The movie was in production from December 1975 to September 1976, with filming taking place from February to June 1976.[4] The strained relationship between Sellers and Blake Edwards had further deteriorated by the time production of Strikes Again was underway. Sellers was mentally and physically in bad shape, and Edwards commented on the actor's mental state: "If you went to an asylum and you described the first inmate you saw, that's what Peter had become. He was certifiable."[3]

The original cut of the film ran for around 180 minutes, but was drastically trimmed down to 103 minutes for theatrical release. Edwards originally conceived Strikes Again as an epic, zany chase film, similar to Edwards earlier The Great Race, but UA vetoed this long version and the film was edited down to a more conventional length. Some of the excised footage was later used in Trail of the Pink Panther. Strikes Again was marketed with the tagline Why are the world's chief assassins after Inspector Clouseau? Why not? Everybody else is. Like its predecessor and subsequent sequel, the film was a box office success.

During the film's title sequence, there are references to television's Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Batman, also the films King Kong, The Sound of Music (which starred Blake Edwards's wife, Julie Andrews), Dracula A.D. 1972, Singin' in the Rain, Steamboat Bill, Jr. and Sweet Charity, putting the Pink Panther character and the animated persona of Inspector Clouseau into recognizable events from said movies. There is also a reference to Jaws in the ending credits sequence. The scene in which Clouseau impersonates a dentist and the use of laughing gas and pulling the wrong tooth are clearly inspired by Bob Hope in The Paleface (1948).[5]

Richard Williams (later of Roger Rabbit fame) supervised the animation of the opening and closing sequences for the second and final time; original animators DePatie-Freleng Enterprises would return on the next film, but with decidedly Williamesque influences.

Sellers was unhappy with the final version of the film and publicly criticized Blake Edwards for misusing his talents. Their tense relationship is noted in the next Pink Panther movie's opening credits (Revenge of the Pink Panther) listing it as a "Sellers-Edwards" production.

Despite literally disintegrating in this film (after committing several major crimes), Dreyfus inexplicably returns in the next Pink Panther film, Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978).

French comic book writer René Goscinny of Asterix fame was reportedly trying to sue Blake Edwards for plagiarism at the time of his death in 1977 after noticing strong similarities to a script titled "Le Maître du Monde" (The Master of the World) which he had sent Peter Sellers in 1975.[6]


Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film two and a half stars out of four and wrote, "If I'm less than totally enthusiastic about The Pink Panther Strikes Again, maybe it was because I've been over this ground with Clouseau many times before," stating that a time would have to come "when inspiration gives way to habit, and I think the Pink Panther series is just about at that point. That's not to say this film isn't funny—it has moments as good as anything Sellers and Edwards have ever done—but that it's time for them to move on. They worked together once on the funniest movie either one has ever done, The Party. Now it's time to try something new again."[7]

Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote that the characters of Clouseau and Dreyfus "were made for each other," and further stated, "I'm not sure why Mr. Sellers and Mr. Lom are such a hilarious team, though it may be because each is a fine comic actor with a special talent for portraying the sort of all-consuming, epic self-absorption that makes slapstick farce initially acceptable—instead of alarming—and finally so funny." Canby also enjoyed Clouseau's French accent, and wrote, "Both Mr. Sellers and Mr. Edwards delight in old gags, and part of the joy of The Pink Panther Strikes Again is watching the way they spin out what is essentially a single routine".[8]


American Film Institute Lists

See also

  • Film portal


  1. "The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Box Office Information". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  2. Allmovie Cast
  3. Thames, Stephanie "The Pink Panther Strikes Again" (TCM article)
  4. IMDB Business Data
  5. Starks, Michael (October 1982). Cocaine fiends and Reefer madness: an illustrated history of drugs in the movies. Cornwall Books. p. 190. ISBN 978-0-8453-4504-7.
  6. (in French) Pascal Ory, Goscinny (1926–1977): la Liberté d'en rire, Paris: Perrin, 2007, ISBN 978-2-262-02506-9, p. 221.
  7. Ebert, Roger (20 December 1976). "The Pink Panther Strikes Again Review (1976)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2 June 2017.
  8. Canby, Vincent (16 December 1976). "Pink Panther Team Unflappable In Fourth High-Spirited Caper". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 June 2017.
  9. IMDB Awards
  10. AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs Nominees
  11. AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes Nominees
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