Does Claudia Cardinale get a hat trick for having three great movies in 1963? The Pink Panther isn’t a ‘great’ movie. Neither is Cardinale’s performance flawless as Princess Dahla. Dahla owns the Pink Panther diamond, the anxiety of the latter’s theft outlines the plot. She thankfully doesn’t try to seduce through every line, too smart for such ingenue moves. Neither does she have the glee that Audrey Hepburn has in director Blake Edwards’s earlier film, although I do appreciate Hepburn efforts there.
As Dahla, she tells a suitor Sir Charles Lytton (David Niven) about being a product of the East and the West, a ‘contradiction’ Cardinale might be able to relate to, being a Sicilian born in Tunisia. Cardinale approaches Dahla’s with confident detachment, and she makes the latter word have nothing to do with a fear that it normally does. So fine, I’ll give her the hat trick.
Even some of the gags don’t have enough punch. I will, however, say that the gags involving Charles and his nephew George are stuck in Inspector Clouseau’s (Peter Sellers) hotel room, Charles and George doing a better mirror scene than the Marx Brothers – yes, I said it – and the zebra in the party scene are unforgettable moments. And Edwards is the classiest ‘sixties’ director I’ve seen so far, his comedy making time’s passing seem quicker.