REVENGE OF THE PINK PANTHER: AMC's Academy 6, K-B Cinema 7, Landover 6, Tenley Circle, Wheaton Plaza 3 and White Flint 5.
The Pink Panther business, having produced its fifth movie, is entitled to the dignity of being considered a series, as opposed to a sequel.
In current film conventions, there are three alternatives to making up a movie and taking a chance on whether it will be a success. There is the re-make, such as "Heaven Can Wait," in which a successful film is recast with a younger generation of actors; the sequel, such as "Jaws 2," which is a re-make of a successful film with the same actors; and the series, in which the same actors play the same characters, but the plot line is varied slightly. Of the three, the last contains the most original work.
However, it will come as a surprise to no one that "Revenge of the Pink Panther" contains the same basics as P.P. 1-4, which is to say that Peter Sellers, as Inspector Clouseau, puts on a lot of funny costumes and has a lot of funny accidents. It was a good routine in 1964, and it's a good routine 14 years later.
But it has gotten sloppier over the years. Producer-director-writer Blake Edwards has indicated publicly that he wants out of this career, which shows a laudable desire for artistic development, so perhaps he could be excused this last time for letting things get by that a fresher eye might have spotted.
The title, for instance, is meaningless. Not only is the pink panther - a configuration in a diamond that appeared in the first film - never explained, but the motive of revenge is nowhere in the story. Killers are after the detective this time for the very flimsiest of impersonal reasons - the desire to demonstrate their skill to other killers.
Then there are the disguises, for which this series is famous. The shop from which Inspector Clouseau gets his get-ups needs a new stock. It will never get through the Hallowe'en season with those stereotyped Chinese coolie and Italian zoot-suit outfits.
The animated opening and closing of the film are equally tired, being of the explosion-going-off-in-the-face school of cartooning. And verbal jokes need editing - calling a character "Simone Legree" is funny only if the reference has some application to the character so named.
Nevertheless, there are both physical and verbal jokes that do work in this film. When the inspector's servant stands on his shoulders but still can't reach high enough, the inspector suggests that they try the same arrangement with him on top "because I'm taller." And the comic acting of Sellers and Dyan Cannon is deft. What fun it would be to see all those involved - including perhaps the durable Clouseau character - try something from scratch.