The credits for “Revenge of the Pink Panther roll,” and Inspector Clouseau appropriately enters a costume shop in search of his newest disguise. Minutes later, he is decked out in a pint sized Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec costume, which he wears for the first half hour of the movie. Unsurprisingly, the master of concealment puts on an acclaim-worthy performance, finding himself neck deep in the usual capers. In this installment, he survives an attempt on his life and goes undercover to find the man (or woman) responsible. In these six scenes, the Pink Panther goes incognito, inducing a wave of spleen-rupturing amusement.
Claude Russo (Transvestite)
He inadvertently masquerades as a transvestite after an unfortunate incident that only the great awkward inspector could find himself in. Against his better judgment, he picks up a strange and slightly pushy woman at a bus stop. Seconds later, she’s holding a gun to his temple and ordering him to take off his clothes. As it turns out, Claude Russo is not the delicate female, Clouseau believed her to be. After she commandeers his famous trench coat and hat, leaving him stranded with a lovely mink and a pair of heels, he is forced to take embrace a new identity like only the famed inspector can.
Chief Inspector Dryfus
His first official disguise in Revenge of the Pink Panther may be his most challenging, one which he miraculously pulls off. After the Claude fiasco lands him in a mental institution, he escapes by donning himself as Chief inspector Dryfus and incidentally lands himself in a suspicious establishment. Luckily, his convenient getup grants him access to the business, which turns out to be managed by his assistant, Cato, who had mistaken him for dead.
Next, Clouseau steps into the role of a priest, serving at the inspector’s own funeral, ironically. He reveals himself to a disappointed Dryfus, striking with impeccable, comedic mastery. In just over a minute Peter Sellers demonstrates why is a master of satire.
By the timeClouseau resurfaces, he has transformed himself into a Swedish sailor “from the salty sea.” In this disastrously hilarious segment, he tucks one knee into a wooden peg, and mounts an inflatable parrot on his shoulder. This is one of the inspector’s many “close call” scenes, prompting more than a few clenched jaws. That is, until we realize the man who greets him at the pier is actually an old acquaintance rather than the potentially whistleblower we originally suspected. Still, the costume itself is a nice touch. Well played, Sellers. Well played.
Mr. and Mrs. Lo Kee
Sellers unleashes an unforgettable performance, in Hong Kong, as the male half of aficticious Asian couple. It’s difficult to keep a straight face watching him, in his full kimono and weaved, conical hat, sign Mr. and Mrs. Lo Kee into the hotel guestbook. With Simone at his side and Cato somewhere in the vicinity, he renders one of the movie’s more uneventful charades.
With Cato and his new friend, Simone, Clouseau move to intercept an exchange between Douvier and a New York mafia godfather named Julio Scallini. What makes Peter Sellers or the Pink Panther, in this case, such a great entertainer when he steps into his alternative roles is the suspense that the audience feels as the various scenes unfold. The bits are funny, hilarious in fact, but you always wonder whether he will actually pull it off. Here, things move forward without a hitch, for a few minutes at least. Then the notoriously rich antics begin.