Well, the Pink Panther really hit his stride in this, the fourth in the series of Pink Panther/Peter Sellers movies.
Distribution rights to the third movie in this series, The Return of the Pink Panther, belong to another company, so that movie isn't included in this MGM set of five Pink Panther films. It does exist in a fairly poor Region 1 transfer from Artisan, but if you must have it, wait until it's given a decent (preferably local) remaster.
So in this MGM set we've skipped from the second movie, A Shot in the Dark, to the fourth. And by the time Blake Edwards got around to The Pink Panther Strikes Again, everything was down pat. Plot was there, but not important; gags and slapstick ruled. Above all, the genius of Peter Sellers as the hapless Clouseau was given free rein, in a killer-avalanche of inspired routines, and with his accent and inspired mispronounciations finely-tuned.
A Shot in the Dark ended with Clouseau's superior, Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) being driven mad by his fule of an underling. We begin this instalment with Lom escaped from the booby-hatch. His plan is to build a world-dominating criminal empire which has just one aim - to kill Inspector (sorry, CHIEF Inspector) Clouseau.
To do that, he kidnaps a key professor and his daughter, and builds a Doomsday Machine able to destroy any part of the world he wishes. And he will destroy- unless the world, on his behalf, hunts down Clouseau.
Some critics find that Herbert Lom and his intricate plan is, in this movie, somewhat over-the-top. I differ. This scheme brings the Pink Panther series into James Bond territory, with a great spoof on all those sliding roofs in secret laboratories with strange machines emitting death rays, which can strike down missiles from the sky, or rain death upon the other side of the world.
Herbert Lom resorts to the sort of total absolute villainy the James Bond creators never dreamed of. Such as torturing the Professor's young daugher by running steel finger-nails down a blackboard. UUGGGGGGHHHHHH. It's not pleasant viewing.
Watch for the White House scene where the President and his staff consider the lunatic's demands. These scenes strike a chilling note today. There couldn't be people like these controlling the fate of the world, could there? Really?
The world sets out on its quest to kill Clouseau. But each country wants to claim credit. To kill Clouseau, each country send out its assassins, but must dispose of the other assassins first. Clouseau strides down a centre-path while all around him drop.
As one of the assassins, watch for a surprise cameo appearance by a certain uncredited star as the Egyptian assassin. I won't name him - but he plays a totally essential, and enviable, role in developing the strong relationship which inadvertently grows between Clouseau and the would-be Russian assassin, the beautiful Lesley-Ann Down. It's a great touch.
Is this the strongest entrant in the Pink Panther series? It very possibly is - though depending on the time of day or night, the state of your stomach or your heart, it must share that honour with its predecessor, A Shot in the Dark or successor, Revenge of the Pink Panther. A quick tip: don't fast-forward through the opening credits. They deserve a ten-star award on their own.