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Film / Curse of the Pink Panther

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What they asked for was the World's Greatest Detective. What they got was the World's Cloddiest Cop.

Dreyfus: You know, Francois, I have a horrible feeling we are seeing history repeat itself.
Francois: What do you mean?
Dreyfus: When they were pulling out the goldfish, I remember thinking "Did Clouseau have any relatives in the states"?

Curse of the Pink Panther is a 1983 crime/comedy film and the eighth installment in The Pink Panther franchise, once again directed by Blake Edwards. This film is the first in the franchise not to star Peter Sellers as Inspector Jacques Clouseau, who had gone missing in the film prior to this one. Instead, the spotlight is given to up-and-coming actor Ted Wass (chosen from his role as Danny Dallas from TV sitcom Soap), who plays Detective Sergeant Clifton Sleigh, a bespeckled American police officer.

One year after Inspector Clouseau has disappeared, the President of France orders Dreyfus to program a supercomputer to select a new detective just like Clouseau (whom the world believes to be a Great Detective) to find him. Naturally, fearing that the new detective will indeed find Clouseau and ruin his life all over again, Dreyfus consults a criminal computer genius to help him sabotage the computer to instead select the worst detective it can find...

And he gets his wish.

The computer selects Detective Sergeant Clifton Sleigh, a haplessly-inept but well-meaning American cop from New York City who, as expected, is every bit as bungling as the man he's looking for!

This film provides examples of:

  • Amusing Injuries:
    • Just like Clouseau, Sleigh tends to get himself hurt in many comedic ways, such as falling into pools, surviving massive explosions, etc.
    • Dreyfus also sustains a few of these, most notably being pushed backwards out his office window by Sleigh twice.
  • And Starring: Ted Wass is given an "introducing" credit for his role of Sleigh during the opening titles.
  • Animated Credits Opening: Just like the other films in the series, this film opens with these. They feature the Pink Panther character and the animated Clifton Sleigh getting into zany antics over a new synth-heavy rendition of the series' iconic theme.
  • Badass Driver: The taxi driver manages to evade Bruno's goons and the Lugash Secret Police while driving upside down.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Dreyfus's whole plan revolves around getting the world's second most inept detective to not find Clouseau, but he doesn't seem to realise that he'll be dealing with a 'new' Clouseau.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Juleta, usually a plucky and petite Brit, single-handedly takes out a gang of baddies and a martial artist for Sleigh's sake.
  • Binocular Shot: The film uses several of these, such as when Bruno's cronies spy on Sleigh.
  • Book Ends: The first film in the series is about the Littons trying to steal the Pink Panther diamond from the princess of Lugash, and although they come close to victory, they do not succeed. In Curse, it's revealed that the diamond has fallen into the hands Countess Chandra and her newfound lover, but at the end of the film, they find it missing from their safe with a white monogrammed glove in its place. The film concludes with the Littons sailing away into the sunset with the diamond in their grasp.
  • The Bus Came Back:
  • Butt-Monkey and Iron Butt Monkey: Sleigh.
  • The Cameo: Roger Moore portrays Inspector Clouseau after his Magic Plastic Surgery, billed as "Turk Thrust II", a continuation of a gag started by actor Bryan Forbes in A Shot in the Dark.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: Inspector Clouseau's Magic Plastic Surgery makes him look inexplicably like Roger Moore, which Clifton falls for hook, line and sinker. He comments on the film he was set to star in, Octopussy, and even asks for his autograph once he finishes questioning him.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Clifton, Lutinenant Palmyra, Charlie, and Countess Chandra make their only series appearances in this film.
  • Chute Sabotage: Dreyfus shoots a parasailing Sleigh out of the sky with a missile from a rocket launcher.
  • Clickbait Gag: The trailer and poster for the film play up a scene where Sleigh takes to the skies in a parasail as a major part of the film, when in actuality the scene doesn't play much importance aside from landing him in Chandra's health spa.
  • Clueless Detective: Sleigh, of course.
  • Corpsing: In-Universe. Dreyfus, on live television, begins snickering to himself while reading Clouseau's expansive list of characteristics (Kung Fu, Okinawan Weaponry, Expert Marksman, Courageous, A Born Leader, etc.) to Aldous to the point that he could no longer continue reading them.
  • Delayed Causality: Parodied with the implausible martial arts prowess of the Ninja Mr. Chong. He karate-chops a boulder to no apparent effect, then calmly walks away while first the boulder and then the entire building fall to pieces behind him.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Sleigh and Juleta never end up together.
  • Double Entendre: Clifton's last name, Sleigh, is justifiably misinterpreted by a Spanish police chief who came to arrest him for his supposed assaulting of Juleta.
    Police Chief Vigila: Is that "Slay" as an "kill"?
    Clifton: No! It's "Sleigh" as in "one horse open"!
  • Dropped Glasses: During his scuffle with Cato, Clifton accidentally loses his glasses, but gets them back when the fight is interrupted.
  • Drum Roll, Please: Aldous requests a short drum roll before he reveals the detective selected to find Clouseau.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • We first see Sleigh disguised as a hooker in an attempt to catch a group of muggers in the act, only to get chatted up by a drunkard, roughed up by an actual hooker mistaking Sleigh for intruding on her turf, which in turn leads to a riot in the streets with him in the center of it all.
    • It's quickly set up that Mr. Chong is not someone to fuck with, as he manages to split a bolder apart with a single blow. Oh, and it manages to collapse the dojo, too.
  • Go Seduce My Archnemesis: While it's not outright mentioned, it's implied that Countess Chandra sent her perky blonde secretary, Julie Morgan (alias Juleta Shane), to seduce Clifton into having sex, and drink a glass of either laced or poisoned champagne. It nearly worked, too.
  • Groin Attack: Juleta does this to one of the hitmen trying to kill Sleigh.
  • History Repeats: Dreyfus and the mafia try desperately to kill Sleigh in the course of the film. And just like Clouseau, Sleigh has an incomprehensible luck that saves him from the attacks and still makes the villains get seriously injured in the process.
  • Idiot Hero: Sleigh, despite his clumsy nature, is very determined to prove his worth by tracking down Clouseau.
  • Leitmotif: As the expected-to-be new star of the series, Sleigh is given a new and slick theme that plays a few times throughout the film.
    • A dramatic Jaws-esque motif accompanies the Mafia attacks.
  • Like Father, Unlike Son: Sleigh's father and grandfather were both successful and competent policeman back in their day. Clifton himself? Not so much.
  • Love Theme: A romantic reprise of Sleigh's theme plays during Juleta's attempted seduction of him.
  • Missing Main Character: Inspector Clouseau. Well, at least until the end.
  • Nerd Glasses: Sleigh wears a pair of these because he is Blind Without 'Em. Dreyfus' assistant, Francois, wears a less appealing pair.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The scene where Sleigh is seduced by Juleta in a hotel (as she croons "Don't blow it...") is immediately followed by a clip of Sleigh being blasted out of a window, making it both a Visual Pun and somewhat of a Gilligan Cut.
  • Of Course I Smoke: When dressed as a hooker in his first scene, Clifton tries smoking to make the disguise appear more authentic, only to start coughing and hacking like mad. This happens again later when he tries smoking with his inflatable “Instant Companion” when trying to evade the Mafia.
  • Rearrange the Song: Done with The Pink Panther Theme, per usual.
    • The opening titles variant heavily utilizes synthesizers to align with the musical trends of The'80s. It also takes many melodic detours, including a synth solo rather than a saxophone solo, as well as a short insertion of Clifton Sleigh's theme. There was also an alternate version that went unused.
    • The end credits variant is more or less a revamp of the disco-like arrangement made for Revenge of the Pink Panther, with a more thrilling tone and a ripping electric guitar solo.
  • Running Gag: More than one character repeats the phrase "Never look a gift horse in the mouth" for whatever reason.
    • Dreyfus falls backwards out of his office window twice, and another time, falls backwards into the sea in a wheelchair.
    • A lens in Clifton's glasses pops out twice.
  • Series Fauxnale: Despite being the penultimate film in the original franchise, there is a surprising amount of finality that ties in with past films in the series. Granted, this is because the plan afterwards was to continue centering the series around Clifton Sleigh in the U.S., and so this film set out to resolve all loose ends on the east side of the pond.
    • Both banes of Dreyfus’ existence, Clouseau and Sleigh, are now out of his life forever.
    • Inspector Clouseau is finally declared dead, when in reality, he is still in hiding with his new-found lover, and joins her in a new life of crime.
    • The Litton’s finally bag the Pink Panther diamond.
  • Sexy Shirt Switch: Juleta wears one of Clifton's pajama tops when she confronts him in his hotel room.
  • Shout-Out: Sleigh's summer wear is undeniably similar to the Iconic Outfit of silent comedian Harold Lloyd.
  • Something Else Also Rises: When Sleigh sits on a ducky inner tube, the duck's bulbous head juts out suggestively between his legs.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Clifton is just as bumbling and clumsy as Clouseau, but does lack the latter's egotistical nature and confidence. This is justified In-Universe as Dreyfus deliberately selecting a detective just as dumb and hapless as Clouseau to fail in the search for him.
    • Lieutenant Palmyra is also very similar to Dreyfus, having to deal with Sleigh's buffoonery in a similar manner. However, he's much less evil and more of a nervous, agitated wreck, able to tug out large clumps of his hair with ease and downing Pepto Bismol 24/7.
  • The Nth Doctor: Roger Moore as Inspector Clouseau. This is because he got Magic Plastic Surgery.
  • The Teetotaler: Clifton refers to himself as such (despite drinking a glass of beer earlier in the movie).
  • Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: Happens twice.
    • The first happens when Sleigh checks into a hotel and heads into the lift with the "Instant Companion" and the bellboy. The doll begins deflating again on the way up, so Sleigh dips down to her legs to inflate her. Of course, the bellboy thinks he's doing some rug-munching, so he's obviously quite anxious to leave.
    • The second happens in Valencia in a much more crowded elevator. A rich old woman's dog lets one rip while in Bruno's arms, and she suspects him to have done it.
  • Window Watcher: Dreyfus spies on Sleigh and Juleta with binoculars through Sleigh's hotel window.
  • World Tour: On his search for Clouseau, Clifton travels from Paris, to the South of France, to Valencia, and Majorca. He also makes a stop in Madrid after this, but this is never seen.
  • You Wouldn't Believe Me If I Told You: Sleigh to Juleta in the Spanish Cafe.
    Juleta: Is anything the matter?
    Clifton: Look, you're not gonna believe this, but some men are trying to kill me!
    Juleta: You're right.
    Clifton: I am?
    Juleta: I'm not gonna believe you.