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Film / A Shot in the Dark

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"Give me ten men like Clouseau and I could destroy the world."
Chief Inspector Dreyfus

A Shot in the Dark is the second film in The Pink Panther franchise, released in 1964.

Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Peter Sellers), now single, is summoned to the estate of the aristocratic Benjamin Ballon (George Sanders) to investigate the murder of Ballon's chauffeur. Clouseau's judgment is immediately clouded by his infatuation with the prime suspect, the maid Maria Gambrelli (Elke Sommer), even as more murders pile up around her. His bungling drives his boss, Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus (Herbert Lom), to homicidal madness. In the meantime, we also meet Cato Fong (Burt Kwouk), Clouseau's Chinese manservant, who — on Clouseau's orders — keeps springing surprise martial arts attacks on him.

Loosely adapted from a 1961 Broadway play of the same name, which was itself based on a French play called L'Idiote (The Idiot) and featured a cast including William Shatner, Julie Harris, and Walter Matthau (who won a Tony Award for his performance). Director Blake Edwards wrote the screenplay adaptation with William Peter Blatty, who later went on to write The Exorcist.


This film provides examples of:

  • 30-Second Blackout: The blackout lasts only five seconds and leaves the whole Ballon mansion in pitch darkness.
  • And Another Thing...: The basis of a particularly funny gag, using it to spoof Door Focus.
  • Animated Credits Opening: By George Dunning & Associates, who are more famous for Yellow Submarine (though DePatie-Freleng Enterprises still produced the titles).
  • Aside Glance: Clouseau gives the camera a hapless stare when his final attempt at unmasking the murderer dissolves into a verbal melee between all the suspects.
  • Bad Guys Play Pool: Ballon, who is one of four murderers in the case Clouseau is trying to solve, plays the game with him. During the game, Clouseau accuses him of being the murderer — which, at the time, he wasn't.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When we first see Dreyfus, he's on the phone talking sweetly to his "darling", telling her he's on his way with cheese and wine and to "kiss the children for me". Then his assistant François buzzes to tell him his wife is on the other line.
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  • Beleaguered Assistant: Hercule Lajoy is this to Clouseau. The character didn't appear in subsequent films outside of a brief cameo in Trail, although his actor (Graham Stark) did return in other roles.
  • Black Comedy Animal Cruelty: Inspector Clouseau, while going undercover as a hunter, angrily shoots the crow that's splattered on him... and is immediately arrested for hunting without a license.
  • The Cameo: British director/producer/writer/actor Bryan Forbes, billed as "Turk Thrust", as the nudist camp attendant. The pseudonym was inspired by a joke he and friend Peter Sellers had conceived.
  • Captain Obvious: While Clouseau is discussing things with Ballon, a servant walks in:
    Servant: Telephone, monsieur, for Inspector Clouseau.
    Clouseau: Ah, that would be for me.
  • Darker and Edgier: It is definitely the darkest film of the entire franchise. Strikes Again could be second, though it's more of a Black Comedy.
  • Everybody Did It: The summation gathering at the end results in all the suspects accusing each other of murder. Turns out almost everyone was a murderer... or a blackmailer.
  • Follow That Car: A variation appears when he instructs the police car driver who brought him to the estate to go "back to town", so he drives off before Clouseau can get in.
  • Hand of Death: Several botched attempts to kill Clouseau.
  • Hand-or-Object Underwear: Invoked. Clouseau borrows a guitar to hold in front of his groin when he's at a nudist colony.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: With this film promoting Clouseau from a supporting character to star of the series, Cato and Dreyfus were introduced as his manservant and his eternally frustrated boss, respectively.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Maria keeps turning up at the scene of a murder, holding the murder weapon. Clouseau takes this as evidence that she's innocent.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: Once again composed by Henry Mancini. It was later used as the theme for The Inspector cartoon series and "Dial 'P' for Pink", where a burglar tries to crack into a safe which The Pink Panther is using as an apartment.
  • Karma Houdini: Dreyfus (accidentally) kills four innocent bystanders in an attempt to kill Clouseau, yet no one calls him on it. He is taken away at the end, presumably to face punishment, but this is completely forgotten about in the sequels.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: About the only ways you can watch the film for the first time and not already know that the Asian man attacking Clouseau is Cato and that the shadowy figure trying to kill Clouseau is Dreyfus is by knowing nothing at all about the film series or by knowing nothing except the order in which the films came out and watching them in order. As it is, since it doesn't have "Pink Panther" in the title, Shot is likely to be one of the last films of the series you're going to see.
  • Master of Disguise: Clouseau tries to be this, anyway.
  • Naked Freak-Out: When Clouseau and Maria Gambrelli are caught naked in public.
  • Naked People Trapped Outside: Clouseau and Maria make a hasty retreat from the nudist resort, but then realize they have another problem.
  • Never My Fault:
    • Guilt of the murders fell, according to everybody but Clouseau, on Maria Gambrelli — until the end.
    • Dreyfus puts a bomb on Clouseau's car on the final act, hoping it will kill him — and it goes off on the summation, with every single murderer inside it (who had gotten in it trying to get away from Clouseau). He has one second of showing an "Oh, Crap!" reaction before starting to yell at Clouseau about how several people are dead because of him (and when Jacques points out that they were all murderous criminals, Dreyfus calls them "saints, compared to you!").
  • Never the Obvious Suspect: Exaggerated for laughs. Throughout the whole movie, Maria Gambrelli is constantly found standing over dead people, with her hand on the murder weapon, she's completely incapable of providing an explanation, and she has a few dark secrets involving the murdered people. The only thing that would make her an even more obvious suspect would be if she broke out into a Motive Rant right then and there. All other policemen believe this to be an open-and-shut case. And to their exasperation, Clouseau never believes her to be the murderer... and he ends up being right, purely by accident.
  • Oh, Crap!: Dreyfus, when he's told that Clouseau has been assigned to the case.
  • The Oner: The pre-credits Teaser sequence features one that lasts about four minutes.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Regarding Clouseau's bumbling, Inspector Dreyfus at one point says "give me ten men like Clouseau and I could destroy the world". It is not a Badass Boast.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: The opening theme during the credits would be reused in The Pink Panther cartoon "Dial 'P' For Pink, where a burglar tries to break into the Pink Panther's safe, which he uses as a house. A remixed version became the opening and closing theme of The Inspector.
  • Running Gag: Clouseau getting arrested while undercover and hauled off in the police van, along with something hanging out of the back related to his undercover identity.
  • Sanity Slippage: Poor, poor Chief Inspector Dreyfus.
  • Summation Gathering: Subverted; Clouseau has no idea who the killer is, and is just hoping they'll expose themselves by panicking. Further parodied when he loses his train of thought during the summation and has to ask the butler what he was talking about.
  • That Russian Squat Dance: Clouseau rips his pants as he attempts one of these.
  • Time Bomb: Dreyfus sends Clouseau a clock that is really a bomb set to go off at three. When it goes off, however, nobody is killed or injured.
  • Too Dumb to Fool: Clouseau refuses to believe that Maria Gambrelli is the murderer, despite her turning up at every murder scene with the weapon and a motive for murder, out of sheer stupidity and love-struck foolishness. He is eventually proven right.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Maria was having an affair with the married victim, which is why she's the primary suspect.


Example of: