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Movies: “The Pink Panther”

Mar. 18, 1964 - Opening today is “The Pink Panther,” a comedy directed by Blake Edwards and distributed by United Artists. It was written by Maurice Richlin and Blake Edwards.

The story follows inspector Jacques Clouseau (Peter Sellers) as he travels from Rome to Cortina d’Ampezzo to catch a notorious jewel thief known as “The Phantom” before he is able to steal a priceless diamond known as “The Pink Panther.”

The cast includes David Niven (right), Robert Wagner, Capucine, and Claudia Cardinale (left). Peter Ustinov was originally cast as Clouseau, with Ava Gardner as his wife. After Gardner backed out because the producers would not meet her demands for a personal staff, Ustinov also left the project, and Blake Edwards then chose Sellers to replace Ustinov. Janet Leigh also turned down the lead female role, as it meant being away from the United States for too long.

The film was initially intended as a vehicle for Niven, as evidenced by his top billing. As Edwards shot the film, employing multiple takes of improvised scenes, it became clear that Sellers, originally considered a supporting actor, was stealing the scenes, so his role was expanded.

The musical score is by Henry Mancini.


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