Shot in the Dark, A (1964)

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Released 5-Apr-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1964
Running Time 98:06 (Case: 102)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (47:33) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Blake Edwards
Studio
Distributor

MGM
Starring Peter Sellers
Elke Sommer
George Sanders
Herbert Lom
Tracy Reed
Graham Stark
Moira Redmond
Vanda Godsell
Maurice Kaufmann
Ann Lynn
David Lodge
André Maranne
Martin Benson
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)
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
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Made only a year after The Pink Panther, A Shot in the Dark was originally going to have nothing whatsoever to do with Inspector Clouseau. After Peter Sellers had some grievances with the original script though, he and Blake Edwards discussed the idea of making the key character into the already familiar Clouseau, rather than create a new persona. Hence the fact that the resolution of the previous film's ending is never addressed. This movie also has nothing whatsoever to do with the Pink Panther, like nearly all the sequels, but here they don't even use the name in the title. Being included in a boxset of Pink Panther movies only serves to illustrate once again that when people hear "Pink Panther" they are actually thinking "Inspector Clouseau".

    This time round the bumbling inspector (Peter Sellers) is sent to investigate the murder of a chauffeur at the mansion of millionaire Benjamin Ballon (George Sanders). The most obvious suspect is the maid, Maria Gambrelli (Elke Sommer), whom Clouseau is immediately attracted to and convinced she couldn't have committed the crime. With the opening of the movie clearly showing that there is a large amount of unfaithfulness going on amongst the many couples in the house, it seems that everyone could be a suspect. The possibilities begin to narrow though, as the body count increases, with Maria always being present at the scene of the crime.

    Clouseau is so convinced that the beautiful Maria could not be guilty that he continually releases her from jail in order to draw the real murderer out into the open. His actions cause his immediate superior, Chief-Inspector Dreyfus (Herbert Lom), to start losing grip of his sanity, as well as having the French public wondering whether he is trying to capture or seduce the killer. The rest of the film sees a trail of death and destruction following Clouseau around, as he bumbles his way towards what he sees as a masterful reveal in the mansion, with all its occupants present.

    There really isn't that much more to the plot, as it's mostly a vehicle for Sellers to develop the character of Clouseau (he starts using the over-exaggerated accent about half way through this film, since that was when he first heard the Frenchman who gave him the idea), and create new ones with his soon-to-be-famous disguises. We also get introduced to Kato (Burt Kwouk), Clouseau's manservant/martial arts trainer, and Dreyfus, who would both play increasing roles in later films.

    I will confess that I am a big Peter Sellers fan, and for all his faults and failings the man was a comic genius. Being a fan of the Goon Show I have to laugh whenever Clouseau uses lines from Major Bloodnok, one of Seller's most beloved characters from the radio show. As such, I am biased towards any movie that showcases his talents, which became more and more the case as this franchise continued. To me this is the first movie that actually feels like what I see in my mind as a Pink Panther movie (rather ironic really). So despite its obvious origins in a stage play (there's a lot of extended scenes with people standing/sitting around in rooms, spouting dialogue), there's enough Clouseau here to keep me more than happy.

    I assume that only a fan of the franchise would be buying the boxset that this disc comes in, and any fan will certainly enjoy this instalment.

    (Note: Do not let this or any of the other discs in the set play 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

    The video quality is very similar to the first movie in the boxset, which isn't surprising considering they were made only a year apart. It's certainly not a perfect transfer, but it is the best this film has looked since its theatrical release.

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

    Sharpness is not up to a perfect standard, but considering the age of the film is pretty good. There are occasionally some soft, grainy shots which do stand out, such as at 20:35 and 88:30. There are a number of dark scenes with people slinking around in shadows, and these have good solid black levels, but shadow detail is often lacking. An example of this can be seen at 47:33.

    Colours are very similar to the first film, being not totally accurate, and showing the age of the film stock a little. However, they are solid, and don't show any signs of bleeding.

    There are no MPEG compression artefacts, and film to video artefacts in general are pretty much absent. In the way of film artefacts, there are occasional specks, but they are nowhere near as bad as The Pink Panther, and do not detract from the viewing experience.

    There are 14 subtitle streams; English for the Hearing Impaired, German for the Hearing Impaired, French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Danish, Portuguese, Greek, Turkish, and Czech. I sampled the English for the Hearing Impaired, and like the first movie, these ones were almost spot-on, with only the occasional words missing.

    This is an RSDL disc, with the layer-change taking place at 51:30. It is almost invisible on the two DVD players I tested it with.

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

Audio

    Another 5.1 remastered soundtrack which in practice is more like a 3.0 track. It's certainly acceptable for the style of film this is, though.

    There are 6 audio tracks on this disc; 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), and Czech Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s). I listened to the English track.

    Dialogue is clear and easy to understand. I didn't notice any problems with lip sync.

    The music, by Henry Mancini once again, is very suited to the action, and is as good as the first film. It consists mainly of brass band jazz sounds, which really add to the mood.

    The surrounds are almost never used. In fact, the only time I got a hint of sound coming from them was during some of the music.

    Once again I didn't hear the subwoofer kick into life at all.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menus follow on with the same look as the first movie in the set, being 16x9 enhanced, but with no animation or music.

Theatrical Trailer (3:35)

    Another entertaining trailer, similar to the one made for the first film. This has another cartoon character (a bullet) discussing the movie, interspersed with short comic scenes from the movie (mostly of Sellers, who had already become the selling point). It is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced, with very grainy image quality. Sound is Dolby Digital 2.0.

R4 vs R1

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

    Once again this disc is identical to the Region 2 version, which has been available since last November. According to the specs, the Region 1 disc will also be practically the same.

Summary

    Starting to get into more familiar territory as far as what the franchise was to later become, this offering sees the character of Inspector Clouseau beginning to cement himself as the most dignified bumbling idiot the world has ever seen. Despite the inferior cast and script, I actually enjoy this movie more than the first one in the series. A must-watch for Sellers fans.

    Video is not the best restoration you'll ever see, but for a 40 year old film, it is certainly watchable.

    Audio once again isn't really a 5.1 mix, but there aren't the same problems that were present on the first disc.

    Extras consist of an entertaining theatrical trailer.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© David L (Only my Mum would have any interest in my bio)
Thursday, April 01, 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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