A murder has occurred at the home of millionaire Benjamin Ballon (George Sanders). Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Peter Sellers) is assigned to the case. When Clouseau gets to the estate he is told that the Ballon chauffer Miguel Ostos was having an affair with one of the maids and she shot him. She was found standing over Miguel’s dead body with the smoking gun in her hand. The maid is Maria Gambrelli (Elke Sommer), and she is being watched by one of the other servants until the police arrive.

When Clouseau sees the beautiful Maria, he is immediately smitten. She tells him that she doesn’t remember anything and that she was knocked unconscious when she entered the room. When she regained consciousness, she had the gun in her hand and has no idea how it got there. Clouseau believes her.

When Clouseau’s boss, Commissioner Dreyfus (Herbert Lom), finds out that Clouseau was assigned this sensitive, high-profile case he immediately has Clouseau taken off the investigation and personally takes charge of the case. Pressure is exerted from above to put Clouseau back on the case. Dreyfus has no choice but to concede. Clouseau is reinstated and he immediately has Maria released from jail.

Clouseau believes that Maria is shielding someone and makes it his mission to be as close to her as possible. From then on, a series of murders occurs, and the beautiful Maria is always somewhere around. Clouseau is also being targeted and bumbles his way through his investigation while Commissioner Dreyfus slowly works his way to a psychotic break.

“A Shot in the Dark” was released in 1964 and was produced and directed by Blake Edwards. The music is by Henry Mancini. The film is based on the French play “L’Idiote” by Marcel Achard. Although the original play was not an Inspector Clouseau vehicle Blake Edward brought in William Peter Blatty and the two of them re-wrote the script to suit Sellers.

The film was released three months after the first Pink Panther movie. It is a British-American comedy/mystery and is the second installment of the Pink Panther series. All together there were five movies in the Peter Sellers portion of the franchise. There have been other Pink Panther movies and reboots with other actors portraying the bumbling Inspector Clouseau.

With Sellers involved the movie is much more comedy than mystery. The film is peppered with slapstick, skits, spoof, ad-lib and word play comedy. According to Graham Stark, who plays Clouseau’s assistant Hercule Lajoy, Peter Sellers ad-libbed the line "Look at that! I've got Africa all over my hand!" The dialogue for the "synchronize the watches" scene was also improvised by Sellers and Stark.

I found the film a lot of fun. I’m not a big comedy person but this one had a variety of comedic styles in it so I could find something enjoyable in just about every scene. I find that sometimes comedy takes too long to get to the point. I usually prefer snappy dialogue to pratfalls. Fortunately, Blake managed to add enough humorous dialogue to tone down some of the physical jokes.

Peter Sellers suffered the first of several near-fatal heart attacks after completing the film. Eventually he would succumb to one in 1980.

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