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.
This movie’s gonna be on again at the TIFF Cinematheque at 4PM today. I also don’t know why I would tolerate Humbert’s (James Mason) actions, decisions and the ramifications for both. Others would find them out of character for a professor – but then he’s teaching at Bumfuck, Ohio and not Harvard. Either I accepted him as a part of the genre or he’s the kind of character I love to hate and I’ll tolerate his stupidity just to see him suffer. I’ll find more theories when I have the time. The film also suffers from pacing issues, specifically between the hour mark until the last half hour. Sue Lyon as Lolita is amazing until one or two unconvincing line reads at the last exchange of the movie.
Cinematheque’s write-up has an excerpt of what Michel Ciment calling “Lolita” ‘a decisive turning point for Kubrick… one of the keys to his inner universe,’ which is more eloquent than what’s in my head. I can’t fully love the movie, but with “Lolita” and its humour I understood “The Shining” and “Eyes Wide Shut” better. I always thought that the former was funny yet overrated while I have vague recollections of the latter but it’s obviously divisive. I feel as if my appreciation of Kubrick would be better if I watched his movies chronologically.