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Pink Panther Star Herbert Lom Dies, Aged 95

Herbert Lom Kirk Douglas Charlton Heston Alec Guinness Peter Sellers Blake Edwards

Herbert Lom, the actor best known for playing Charles Dreyfus in the Pink Panther movies, has died aged 95. He may have starred alongside Hollywood greats Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston and Alec Guinness, he may have portrayed historical figures such as Napoleon Bonaparte, but it will be his performance alongside the hapless Inspector Clouseau (played by Peter Sellers) for which he will be most fondly remembered.

The family of the Czech-born star confirmed that he died peacefully in his sleep, Sky News report today (September 27, 2012) and his son Alec Lom has spoken of his long and varied career. “Like many actors, he never wanted to be pigeon-holed in a particular role,” his son revealed. “After having played the role of East European gangster in many films, it was a delight to him later in his career to be cast by Pink Panther producer and director Blake Edwards in a comedy role opposite Peter Sellers, and he hugely enjoyed that move.”

Alec also spoke fondly of his father’s working relationship with Sellers, saying “he had many funny stories about the antics that he and Peter Sellers got up to on the set. It was a nightmare working with Peter because he was a terrible giggler and, between my father and Peter's laughter, they ruined dozens and dozens of takes.”

The Pink Panther (1963) Review

Very Good
Not the best film in the Pink Panther collection, this introduction to Peter Sellers' bumbling Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers) is still a must-see. In this film, Clouseau is in a lush ski resort and vaguely on the trail of a jewel thief who's out to steal this "Pink Panther" from a vacationing princess (the ridiculously sexy Claudia Cardinale). David Niven and Robert Wagner make somewhat less of an impression -- and I'll try not to spoil anything by mentioning how their roles interact here -- but on the whole Panther is good and messy fun.

Son Of The Pink Panther Review

As unmemorable as Ted Wass was in Curse of the Pink Panther, Roberto Benigni is positively awful as the lead in this even-iller-advised sequel. It's hard to believe that Benigni would be snagging an Oscar a mere four years later. Here he shows no trace of any depth or sincerity, or really any talent of any kind.

You can guess from the title what's up here: Clouseau is long gone, and Maria Gambrelli (from A Shot in the Dark) has moved on with her life. Add in a kidnapped princess and police commissioner Dreyfus (Herbert Lom, impossibly still alive) who stumble into Maria's world. Then throw in Clouseau's long-lost son, the idiotic Jacques Cambrelli, who is, yes, Maria's offspring.

Continue reading: Son Of The Pink Panther Review

Curse Of The Pink Panther Review

Although the prior Pink Panther film, Trail of the Pink Panther, essentially had no plot, Curse of the Pink Panther picks up where it left off.

That's a tricky place to start, and it doesn't go entirely well. Finally acknowledging the death of Peter Sellers three years earlier, Curse posits that Clouseau is still missing and that, well, somebody ought to find him. Enter what the studio obvious hoped would be a replacement for Sellers, Ted Wass, playing "the world's second best detective," Sergeant Clifton Sleigh. (Of course, Wass didn't really take, the movie flopped, and that was that. Wass is now a television director, but he's best known for his work playing the dad on TV's Blossom.)

Continue reading: Curse Of The Pink Panther Review

Trail Of The Pink Panther Review

In 1980, Peter Sellers died. In 1982, Trail of the Pink Panther, with Sellers as the headliner, was released by a studio hungry to capitalize further on the popular series.

Trail certainly isn't historically unique in its use of archival footage to create a role for a passed-on movie star, but it's inarguably one of the ballsiest attempts at it. Sellers isn't some bit player (like Lawrence Olivier in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow), he's the star. He's Inspector freakin' Clouseau, and he's in more than half of the running time of the film.

Continue reading: Trail Of The Pink Panther Review

The Pink Panther Strikes Again Review

Very Good
More absurdity in this fourth Sellers-as-Clouseau flick, arguably the most ridiculous in the series as his former boss (Herbert Lom) has been finally driven insane, so much so that he orders a hitman to off the bumbling inspector. And not just one hitman, 20 of them -- including Omar Sharif in a cameo -- anything to be rid of the menace of Clouseau. There's also a doomsday machine/end of the world ransom plot (later re-spoofed in the Austin Powers series), but this is of course all just the backdrop for Sellers to do his thing.

A Shot In The Dark Review

The second film in the Pink Panther series doesn't mention its heritage in the title (and in fact there's no relation to the titular jewel at all in the movie), but A Shot in the Dark is widely -- and wisely -- thought to be the best film in the series of five. Peter Sellers is back as the incompetent Clouseau, this time investigating a murder at a wealthy Frenchman's (George Sanders) estate, where all signs point to the maid (Elke Sommer) as the guilty party. Clouseau refuses to see it this way, with wildly funny, slapstick, and simply crazy results. Sellers is on full tilt in this one.

The Party Review

Peter Sellers makes one of his biggest character stretches here as Indian nincompoop Hrundi V. Bakshi, a film extra who accidentally demolishes the set, then finds himself mistakenly invited to a big Hollywood dinner party. His bumbling begins the moment he steps foot in the door. Literally: He loses his shoe in a fountain, doesn't have a seat at the table, and dunks a piece of artwork in the toilet. Little bizarrely hilarious moments don't quite make the movie on their own, but for Sellers and/or Blake Edwards fans, it's totally worth a look.

10 Review

"Introducing Bo Derek?" She got introduced two years earlier in the infamous Orca.

No matter: She acquits herself far better here, namely ecause she has nearly no lines. This is Dudley Moore's show: An absurd and hopelessly dated bit of slapstick about Moore's showbiz star facing a midlife crisis. Zoom, he's off to Mexico, where he daydreams about Derek (in those hideous braids) at length. Blake Edwards made worse films than this, but his comic timing is all wrong, exiled to long bouts of non-sequitur gags, such as Moore's run-in with dentistry.

Continue reading: 10 Review

Darling Lili Review

Chances are you've never heard of Darling Lili, despite Blake Edwards as director and Rock Hudson and Julie Andrews as stars. Hell, audiences in 1970 barely heard of it, because it was a disaster on release. It's so bad it never even merited an appearance on VHS. Well, DVDs are cheap, and Blake Edwards is still alive and enjoying new noteriety thanks to a recent Oscar appearance... and Andrews is in the news, too. So why not put out a director's cut of what might be the worst film either of them ever made?

Problem #1 can be seen in a premise: It's a film that no self-respecting studio head should have ever greenlit, but inexplicably somebody did. Who in their right mind could have thought that anyone would want to see a musical about Mata Hari? Not even the real Mata Hari, but a Mata Hari-like character plying her trade during World War I.

Continue reading: Darling Lili Review

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