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'Pink Panther' Actor Herbert Lom Passes Away Aged 95


Herbert Lom Peter Sellers

Herbert Lom, star of the Pink Panther has died aged 95. If you're of a certain generation you'll be sure to remember the star, who played Inspector Clouseau's boss Charles Dreyfus in the Pink Panther movies. The veteran actor passed away peacefully in his sleep on Thursday (September 27th), according to his family. It was a life well-lived for Lom, who managed to rack up more than 100 movie credits in a career that spanned six decades, including starring roles in classics such as El Cid, The Ladykillers and Spartacus among others.

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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 Dead Zone Review


Good
One of the more successful entries into the Stephen King horror film genre (and probably the best under the Dino De Laurentiis production label), The Dead Zone is aided in no small part by Christopher Walken in the lead role.

Walken stars as high school teacher Johnny Smith, who wrecks his Beetle and spends five years in a coma, only to discover he now has the gift of second sight. Predicting local tragedies is one thing, but eventually he becomes entangled in a political race (with Martin Sheen running for President), and Johnny foresees that if he wins, disaster will ensue (you know, the nuclear kind).

Continue reading: The Dead Zone Review

Son of the Pink Panther Review


Terrible
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.

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Curse Of The Pink Panther Review


Grim
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.)

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Trail of the Pink Panther Review


Grim
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.

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The Phantom of the Opera (1962) Review


OK
It's Phantom time again in this '60s adaptation, a straightforward version with Herbert Lom (who?) as the masked man. Notably, the phantom's costume is at it's simplest here: a getup that looks an awful lot like the guy put a bag over his head. The story's pretty straightforward and unsurprising, though the music is good and the performances are all perfectly acceptable. Not what you might expect from Hammer Films.

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Night and the City Review


Essential
"The night is tonight. The city is London," says the narrator, and you couldn't really ask for a better beginning. Like many a film noir, Night and the City opens on, yes, nighttime in the big city, and a man is being chased by dangerous persons unknown. There are sharp suits and swindlers, crooks and corruption, indeed, but this is far from your standard issue noir, with little in the way of a hero and far too much of a sense of a humor - all of which is just part of what makes this film as engrossing as it is.

The man being chased is Harry Fabian (Richard Widmark), a scam artist who hides out in the apartment of his girlfriend, Mary Bristol (a radiant Gene Tierney), either hoping to wait out the guy waiting for him downstairs or get Mary to pay him off. It takes a little while for the film to really settle into the scheme of Harry's that takes everything to its tragic denouement, but that's no problem, as Harry's night-to-night is entertainment enough. Semi-employed as a tout for the Soho club that Mary dances at, Harry spends nights luring tourists and other suckers into the club, and when not doing that, scours the city's underworld plotting the one killer idea to put him on easy street.

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The Pink Panther Strikes Again Review


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


Extraordinary
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.

Revenge of the Pink Panther Review


OK
Peter Sellers' fifth and final performance as Clouseau, of Pink Panther fame, finds the bumbling detective the target of a French crime lord determined to boost him image by offing the notoriously hard-to-kill inspector. It's the most cartoon-like of the series (when Clouseau falls through a hole in the floor -- cut out in a circle beneath where he stands, natch -- his hat stays suspended in air on the story above), and the least memorable by a longshot. Never mind that it doesn't make a lot of sense to start with (no explanation is made for the reappearance of former inspector Dreyfus (Herbert Lom), who disintegrated himself at the end of Panther #4), and the remainder of the movie is mainly one setup for Sellers to ham it up after another. Still, what a ham, eh?

The Return of the Pink Panther Review


Good
Sellers starred as Clouseau for the third time in this Pink Panther flick, a funny (though somewhat less so than its predecessors) entry into the Blake Edwards empire. The Pink Panther diamond is stolen again, and the bumbling Sellers is thrown back in action to hunt doiwn the thief. Inspired largely by To Catch a Thief, it's all very familiar from the first two films -- right down to the fights with Cato (he springs from a freezer where he's been hiding), but Edwards proves he still has an excellent handle on the genre.

The Ladykillers (1955) Review


OK
As black comedies go, The Ladykillers (remade in 2004) is neither terribly black nor terribly comedic. The centerpiece performance by a sunken-eyed Alec Guinness doesn't ever raise the film above its simple beginnings, involving a band of crooks (led by Guinness) who use an old woman's home as home base for a heist. The crooks scheme to kill the old lady when she stumbles upon their plan. Slow and unbalanced, the movie doesn't make much of an impression, though some moments (like the crooks posing as a string quartet) are priceless.

Continue reading: The Ladykillers (1955) Review

The Man with Bogart's Face Review


Grim
I suppose you're either in to the Bogart private eye era or you're not, and if you're not, The Man with Bogart's Face is not going to hold a hell of a lot of appeal. Face features Sacchi, a well-known Bogart impersonator, as a retired cop who opts for cosmetic surgery to look like his matinee idol, opening a P.I. business as "Sam Marlowe." Marlowe is quickly drawn into a web of deceit involving two giant sapphires ("thaffires," as Bogie would say), including the cast of sordid characters you'd find in a certain Sam Spade mystery. What the purpose for a lifeless homage like Face is remains unclear, but the late-1970s production values, music, and costumes will probably have you giggling more than recalling your fond memories of The Maltese Falcon or The Big Sleep.

The Dead Zone Review


Good
One of the more successful entries into the Stephen King horror film genre (and probably the best under the Dino De Laurentiis production label), The Dead Zone is aided in no small part by Christopher Walken in the lead role.

Walken stars as high school teacher Johnny Smith, who wrecks his Beetle and spends five years in a coma, only to discover he now has the gift of second sight. Predicting local tragedies is one thing, but eventually he becomes entangled in a political race (with Martin Sheen running for President), and Johnny foresees that if he wins, disaster will ensue (you know, the nuclear kind).

Continue reading: The Dead Zone Review

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