Sleuthathon: A Classic Mystery Blogathon – A Shot in the Dark’s Inspector Clouseau

“I believe everything and I believe nothing.
I suspect everyone and I suspect no one. I gather the facts, examine the clues, and before you know it, the case is solved.”

- Inspector Jacques Clouseau

Inspector Clouseau A Shot in the Dark

The original Inspector Clouseau played by the inimitable Peter Sellers, of course!

So, why did I pick Inspector Jacques Clouseau of the French Sûreté as my Sleuthathon sleuth??? He’s certainly not brilliantly astute like ‘master-of-deduction’ Sherlock Holmes; he’s certainly not calm, cool and collected like hard-boiled detective Sam Spade; and he’s certainly not a great legal mind like defense attorney Perry Mason. As a matter of fact, he’s quite the opposite – incompetent, clumsy, inept — and he pretty much causes chaos and confusion wherever he goes.  So, again, why did I pick him?  Well, despite all of his flaws and shortcomings, he’s sincere about his work, passionate about the law, unflinchingly determined, and although seemingly clueless, always shows great instinct for solving crimes (in spite of himself!). But, enough of all this silly rhetoric and rationalization. In all honesty, I really picked him because he makes me laugh…and I like to laugh :)

Inspector Clouseau cartoon from A Shot in the Dark

Inspector Clouseau in the opening credits

I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen A Shot in the Dark, and yet I still looked forward to watching it again in preparation for this Sleuthathon. And, as always, from the moment the fabulous opening credits appeared on the screen (complete with iconic cartoon and marvelous Henry Mancini score), I sat in eager anticipation of watching poor, bumbling Inspector Clouseau bungle his way through murder, mystery and mayhem, in his attempt to prove that beautiful housemaid Maria Gambrelli (Elke Sommer) is innocent of the murder of chauffeur Miguel (and incidentally her lover).

For me, what’s truly funny about this film is Seller’s incredible straight-man seriousness and inimitable slapstick timing.

So, that said, let’s celebrate Inspector Clouseau, with a mix of videos, pictures and quotes from the film…

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It was difficult to find videos of some of his funniest moments, but I did find a few good ones…

Movie Trailer: My favorite scenes are about 42 seconds in (when Clouseau gets his hand caught in the globe), followed by about 1:20 in (when he attempts to break down a door)….

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A ‘buemp in the head’ clip:  Some good all-around clumsiness here…

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And, now, for lack of more videos, I will have to try to capture Clouseau’s sleuthy-ness via photos and quotes…

Inspector Clouseau, Peter Sellers, with Maria Gambrelli, Elke Sommer, coat on fireHe helps damsels in distress… Inspector Clouseau explains his methodology to Maria Gambrelli (Elke Sommer)… (I won’t tell you what that smoke is in the background) :)

“First we presume, after, we find out. That is the way we work, we always work that way because if we work the other way, you see… is it stuffy in here?” 

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Inspector Clouseau, Peter Sellers, with  Kato, Burt Kwouk, A Shot in the Dark

His hands are lethal weapons… Inspector Clouseau ‘spars’ with man-servant, Kato (Burt Kwouk)…

“You must learn to attack me whenever and wherever I least expect it. And you, you must give no quarter.”

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Inspector Clouseau, Peter Sellers, with Hercule LaJoy, Graham Stark, A Shot in the Dark, Just the facts scene

He’s a firm believer in sticking to the facts, just the facts… Inspector Clouseau gives assistant Hercule LaJoy (Graham Stark) a lesson in sleuthing…

“Facts, Hercule, facts! Nothing matters but the facts. Without them the science of criminal investigation is nothing more than a guessing game.”

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Inspector Clouseau, Peter Sellers, A Shot in the Dark

He is confident… no doubt about it…

“I will apprehend this culprit within 24 hours”

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Inspector Clouseau, Peter Sellers, master of disguise, balloons

He’s a master of disguise… Inspector Clouseau goes ‘undercover’…

Policeman: “Do you have a license to sell these balloons?”

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Inspector Clouseau, Peter Sellers, with Benjamin Ballon, George Sanders, A Shot in the Dark

He’s determined and passionate about solving crime… Inspector Clouseau accuses Benjamin Ballon (George Sanders) of the hideous crime…

“And I submit, Inspector Ballon, that you arrived home, found Miguel with Maria Gambrelli, and killed him in a rit of fealous jage!”

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Inspector Clouseau, Peter Sellers, Nudist ColonyHe always has a keen eye for detail… Inspector Clouseau stumbles upon Camp Sunshine and makes a sleuthy deduction :)

“Can I ask you something? Have you been…swimming???” 

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 Inspector Clouseau, Peter Sellers, with Charles Dreyfus, Herbert Lom, in A Shot in the Dark

He fights for what he believes in, even the lost causes… Inspector Clouseau getting kicked off the case by boss, Commissioner Dreyfus (Herbert Lom)…

“But that is not fair. I was only doing my duty. And I am right, you will see. Maria Gambrelli is not a murderer!”

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Inspector Clouseau, Peter Sellers, A Shot in the Dark, dodging bullet

He lives in constant danger… Clouseau is back on the case, dodging bullets like any good sleuth…

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Inspector Clouseau ending, Peter Sellers

And, like all good detectives, he reveals the killer in one dramatic moment of truth… Clouseau reveals his suspicions, but not without some surprises that I won’t reveal…

“Now, I will tell you why I called you all here tonight… One of you is a murderer.”

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So, although Inspector Clouseau is your ‘typical’ sleuth, he certainly does his share of ‘smart’ sleuthing, albeit in his own clumsy, quirky and clueless way… and, in A Shot in the Dark, he even gets the girl in the end :)

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A Shot in the Dark: just the facts…

  • Directed by Blake Edwards.
  • Tthe second installment in The Pink Panther series, the first being The Pink Panther starring David Niven, also directed by Blake Edwards.
  • The first film where Sellers used his exaggerated French accent
  • Introduced Herbert Lom as Clouseau’s ‘driven-to-madness’ boss Commissioner Dreyfus
  • Introduced Burt Kwouk as Clouseau’s long-suffering servant, Kato (later Cato)
  • The film was based on the stage play by Harry Kurnitz which was adapted from the French play L’Idiote by Marcel Achard
  • The film did not originally include the character of Clouseau. Clouseau was written in later by Blake Edwards and William Peter Blatty (who incidentally wrote the novel and the screen play for The Exorcist).
  • The film was released only about three months after The Pink Panther (June 23 and March 20, respectively)
  • Sellers said in interviews that the secret of Clouseau’s character was his tremendous ego, making his klutziness funnier because of his quest to remain elegant and refined while causing chaos everywhere he turned.
  • The role of Maria Gambrelli was originally given to Sophia Loren but she became ill and couldn’t do it.
  • The play, A Shot in the Dark, ran for 389 performances at the Booth Theater from October 18, 1961 to September 22, 1962. The original cast included Walter Matthau (Tony Award 1962 for Best Featured Actor), Julie Harris, William Shatner and Gene Saks.

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This was the perfect excuse to watch A Shot in the Dark again (like I really needed an excuse?).  A Big Thank You to the marvelous Movies Silently for hosting this very special Sleuthathon event!

—Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

 

 

 

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13 Responses to Sleuthathon: A Classic Mystery Blogathon – A Shot in the Dark’s Inspector Clouseau

  1. Ah, such a fun movie! My brothers and I used to attack one another Kato-style, much to our mother’s displeasure.

    Enjoyed your rundown of the greatest hits and lines in the film. A great way to capture the flavor! Don’t you just hate those “buemps” on the head?

  2. I have not watched this movie in ages. I can’t even tell you how many years ago, because I can’t count that high! You have sent me back into Clouseau mode and you have my undying appreciation.

  3. Mike Perry says:

    Funny bone Classic. One of those films that I can’t help but practically recite while watching. Lost track of how many times I have watched this as well as the follow ups. With all due respect to Peter Ustinov, I am glad be bowed out of the role in the earlier film.

    • Annmarie Gatti says:

      Although I know every scene that’s coming up, I still laugh when Clouseau does something utterly silly and gets hurt! Every time I watch him spin that globe, I’m amazed how he got his hand stuck in there without actually getting hurt :)

  4. FlickChick says:

    Oh lord, how I love this film! Sellers was simply brilliant and the films of Blake Edwards just get better with time. I saw this film in the movies as a young kid and the scene in the nudist camp seemed absolutely forbidden! I laughed till I cried and wanted hair like Elke Sommer! Thanks for the memories.

  5. Joe Thompson says:

    I’m so happy you wrote about A Shot in the Dark. My family also watches it every time it appears on television. I liked your observation about how “always shows great instinct for solving crimes (in spite of himself!).” Thank you for sharing this with us all.

  6. Leah says:

    Love the pacing of this review, which echoes his comedic style. Thank you for making me laugh. “My hands are lethal weapons”–so true, a danger to himself at all times:)

  7. I’m another one who hasn’t seen this film for YEARS, but your post has made me yearn to see it again. Clouseau really is one of the all-time great detectives – he solves crimes in spite of himself.

    Thanks for giving us a wonderful review!

  8. Le says:

    My mother and I watched it this New Year and we loved it! I smiled with some of your quotes and pictures, because they reminded me of great moments in the film. I loved every time Clouseau fell in the water :D
    Don’t forget to read my contribution to the blogathon! :)
    Kisses!

  9. Marta says:

    Nice one! Inspector Clouseau is an absolute hoot and it never gets old.

  10. What a great post! Inspector Clouseau is probably one of my favourite on-screen detectives, and always (in my opinion!) so impeccably dressed. I haven’t seen this movie for years, thank you for inspiring me to watch it again!

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