The Pink Panther (1963)

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Released 5-Apr-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Blake Edwards (Director)
Informational Subtitles-Trivia Track
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1963
Running Time 110:22 (Case: 115)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (53:34) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Blake Edwards
Studio
Distributor

MGM
Starring David Niven
Peter Sellers
Robert Wagner
Capucine
Brenda de Banzie
Colin Gordon
John Le Mesurier
James Lanphier
Guy Thomajan
Michael Trubshawe
Riccardo Billi
Meri Welles
Martin Miller
Case Gatefold
RPI $89.95 Music Henry Mancini


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Czech Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
French
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Swedish
Finnish
Norwegian
Danish
Portuguese
Greek
Turkish
Czech
English Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
English Information
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Pink Panther tells the story of a rare pink diamond that, through a slight imperfection, reveals the image of a panther when viewed through the right light. Actually, the story is centred around the people who are trying to steal it, and the people who want to stop those who want to steal it. Not exactly a convoluted plot, but then in this case, it doesn't really need to be.

    David Niven plays Sir Charles Lytton (a.k.a the Phantom), a notorious gentleman jewel thief in the vein of Raffles. His latest plan is to steal the Pink Panther from Princess Dala (Claudia Cardinale) while she is holidaying in the Italian Alps. Jacques Clouseau (Peter Sellers) is the clumsy, infantile, yet dogged French Inspector who has been hunting the Phantom for years, and believes he is almost within his grasp. Knowing that the Pink Panther will be too much of a temptation for the Phantom, Clouseau heads to the Italian ski resort as well, with his wife (Capucine), in order to keep watch on the Princess.

    Unbeknownst to Clouseau, his wife is also Charles Lytton's lover, whom she aids in his less-than-honest ventures, and one would assume also makes sure he always stays a step ahead of the police (although with Clouseau on the case, it's questionable whether any help would be needed).

    With the Princess, Charles, Clouseau and the police all converging on the resort, Charles Lytton's nephew, George (Robert Wagner), also shows up, becoming a bit of a fly in the ointment for Charles' well-laid plans. What follows is a lot of stageplay-type shenanigans taking place in different rooms, Inspector Clouseau bumbling around without a clue, women looking suitably European and glamorous, mistaken identities occurring, and even a car chase in the streets of Rome.

    It could sound like any one of many similar films produced in the 1950s, 1960s or even 1970s (What's Up Doc? springs to mind), but it does stand out as unique. Personally I believe this is due to the genius of Sellers, since the rest of the movie, while not bad, doesn't really contain much that separates it from many other similar films that have slipped into obscurity over the years.

    Although he's not even the main character in this film, The Pink Panther introduced the world to Sellers' Inspector Clouseau, who would quickly spawn his own franchise. In this first outing though, his accent is more understated, and we don't see a lot of things that were later to become part of his character (such as his disguises, his fights with Kato, and so on). At the time of writing, the only way to purchase this disc in Region 4 is as part of a box-set that contains most of the related movies that Sellers was involved in, so it's very interesting to watch them in order and see the character develop. This isn't the best of the bunch, but it's a taste of things to come.

    (Note: Do not let this or any of the other discs in the set go beyond the end credits, as you will be taken into an endless stream of warnings that will disable all but your eject button. Yes, even the "stop" function is prohibited.)

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Remastered for this box set, the first in the series is showing its age in some respects, but is still a decent video transfer.

    This transfer is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

    Sharpness levels are acceptable for a source that's over 40 years old, although certainly not as crystal clear and sharp as a recent release. Black levels are good with no signs of low-level noise, and shadow detail is acceptable.

    Colours have that look of many a 1960s movie - in other words not totally accurate (best demonstrated by the skin tones). However the mix of bright clothing set against a lot of white snow is a good test for bleeding, and the transfer is more than up to the task. Colours are bright, solid, and don't display any chroma noise.

    I didn't see any MPEG compression artefacts, and film to video artefacts are noticeable by their absence. However, from the very start of the film there are numerous film artefacts present, consisting mostly of little white specks. On a large screen these quickly become quite annoying. However, on a smaller screen (such as a 68cm TV or less), I imagine they wouldn't be nearly so distracting. There is also the occasional minor grain.

    There are a plethora of subtitle streams on this disc - 21 to be exact, if you include the trivia stream; English for the Hearing Impaired, German for the Hearing Impaired, French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Danish, Portuguese, Greek, Turkish, Czech, English Audio Commentary, German Audio Commentary, French Audio Commentary, Italian Audio Commentary, Spanish Audio Commentary, Dutch Audio Commentary, and English Information. I sampled the English for the Hearing Impaired and found it to be suitably accurate, and in fact quite helpful for some of the dialogue that wasn't overly clear.

    This is an RSDL disc, and the layer change takes place quite unobtrusively at 53:34.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Although heralded as a remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 track, there really isn't much use of the 5.1 format, and the sound in general leaves a little to be desired.

    There are 7 audio tracks on this DVD; English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s), Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s), Czech Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s), and English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s). I listened to the English Dolby Digital 5.1 and the English Audio Commentary tracks.

    Dialogue left a little to be desired. I found the volume level was unbalanced compared to the music and sound effects, meaning that if I wanted to hear the dialogue clearly I needed to set the volume to a level that was too high for all other sounds. This is actually one of my pet hates, and I found it rather annoying. Also the audio sync is not particularly good, with many examples of lips not matching the spoken word exactly (35:25 and 65:32, to name just 2 examples). Apparently all of Claudia Cardinale's dialogue was dubbed in post-production, but it's not just her who is the victim of poor ADR work.

    The music by Henry Mancini includes the now famous Pink Panther theme, as well as a score that is similarly suitable to the on-screen action. This adds greatly to the mood of the film.

    The surrounds were very rarely used. I only noticed them occasionally during some of the music.

    I didn't hear the subwoofer come to life at all.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    Menus are 16x9 enhanced, with a mixture of real-life clips and cartoon animation, as well as the famous theme music looping in the background. They're some of the better menus I've seen recently.

Audio Commentary - Blake Edwards (Director)

    I was quite looking forward to this extra, as I'd never heard the man talk at any length before. However it turned out to be a little disappointing, as he talks slowly with long and frequent pauses, in a manner that is far from captivating. However, considering Edwards is over 80 now, I guess that's somewhat to be expected, and we should be thankful they even got him into the recording booth to do this commentary.

    It's not really that bad a commentary, since we do get lots of little gems of info as Edwards reminisces about the actors (including his relationship with Sellers), the crew, the music, and the shooting process (but mostly about the actors). It's just a shame that a lot of the best stuff is repeated in the much more informative Trivia Track, making this commentary almost seem unnecessary.

Informational Subtitles - Trivia Track

    Now this is an extra that far exceeded my expectations. I've found these sorts of trivia subtitle streams to be of very varied quality over the discs I've viewed that contain them. This one was excellent though - full of interesting, informative, and humorous facts and anecdotes, presented inside little pink boxes that appear all over the screen, and are easy to read.

    There's a lot of info on the actors (for example, David Niven was a Commando in World War II), but there's also loads of trivia on the Pink Panther series, the cartoons, the music, the crew, the story, the locations, and so on, and so on. There's barely a moment without a fact up on screen, and I highly recommend you take the time to view this extra.

Theatrical Trailer (3:39)

    A rather different, and rather cool little trailer which contains an "interview" with the cartoon Pink Panther, punctuated with short clips from the film. They don't make 'em like this anymore. Presented in a non-16x9 enhanced aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, the quality isn't really anything to write home about.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This set has been available in Region 2 since last November, and from what I can ascertain is absolutely identical to our version. The set is also being released in Region 1 on the same date as ours, and looks to contain all the same features. When reviews are available from the US I'll update this section if needs be.

Summary

    The film which started one of the most successful movie franchises, and launched one of the most beloved flawed characters in comic history. This is very different to the later Clouseau vehicles (he's not even the main character here), with more of a 1960s caper feel to it, but it has some fine acting, classic comedy moments, and one genius of a comedian. Still holds up ok today, and is worth a viewing, but without Clouseau it would be far less entertaining.

    The video transfer is quite good, considering the age of the source.

    The audio transfer left a little to be desired, but is adequate for a film such as this, which doesn't rely on immersive sound to keep the viewer's interest.

    Extras include a commentary, a very interesting trivia track, and a rather different theatrical trailer.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© David L (Only my Mum would have any interest in my bio)
Sunday, March 28, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDOmni 3600, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252QM CRT Projector, 250cm custom built 16x9 matte screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS797- THX Select
SpeakersAccusound ES-55 Speaker set, Welling WS12 Subwoofer

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