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Shot In The Dark, A (UA 1964, Peter Sellers, Elke Sommer)

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A Shot in the Dark was the second outing for bumbling French detective Inspecteur Clouseau (released just four months after The Pink Panther) and sees Peter Sellers take the character to new heights of comical ineptitude. The accent is thicker, the pratfalls more delirious. In another’s hands the humour might smack of overkill, but Sellers was as brilliant a physical comedian as he was a character actor, and he’s flying in A Shot in the Dark. As Kenneth Tynan of The Observer remarked, the film “is slapstick carried so far beyond the bounds of farce that it becomes a highly sophisticated game.”

Clouseau is brought in to investigate the murder of an employee at the home of wealthy Benjamin Ballon (George Sanders). All the evidence points to the victim’s lover, Maria Gambrelli (Elke Sommer). But there’s something about her that makes Clouseau suspect that all is not as it appears. Never one to let the facts get in the way of his instincts, he lets Maria go, only for the beautiful chambermaid to be found at the scene of a fresh murder soon afterwards.

By now, however, Clouseau is in love with Maria, and once again she’s freed from prison by the pining detective. Six murders later, she’s still at large, to the consternation of Clouseau’s increasingly deranged boss, Chief Inspector Dreyfuss (Herbert Lom). But a madcap finale vindicates Clouseau’s wholly unscientific methods when he captures the culprits and Maria’s heart. The film’s script was adapted from plays by Marcel Achard and Harry Kurnitz by director Blake Edwards and (surprisingly) The Exorcist author William Peter Blatty.

production details
USA | United Artists – Mirisch | 102 minutes | 1964

Director: Blake Edwards
Script: Blake Edwards, Harry Kurnitz, Marcel Achard, Leland Hayward, William Peter Blatty,

cast
Herbert Lom as Charles Dreyfus
Tutte Lemkow as Kazak Dancer
George Sanders as Benjamin Ballon
Bryan Forbes as Camp Attendant
Jack Melford as The Psycho-Analyst
Vanda Godsell as Madame LaFarge
Ann Lynn as Dudu
André Maranne as François
Burt Kwouk as Kato
Peter Sellers as Jacques Clouseau
Elke Sommer as Maria Gambrelli
Graham Stark as Hercule LaJoy
Moira Redmond as Simone
Tracy Reed as Dominique Ballon
Maurice Kaufmann as Pierre
David Lodge as Georges
Martin Benson as Maurice
Reginald Beckwith as Receptionist
Douglas Wilmer as Henri LaFarge
Andre Charisse as Game Warden
Howard Greene as Gendarme
John Herrington as The Doctor
Victor Baring as Taxi Driver
Victor Beaumont as Gendarme
Hurtado de Cordoba Ballet as Flamenco Dancers & Guitarist
Fred Hugh as Balding Customer
Rose Hill as Soprano
Tahitian Dance Group as Tahitian Dance Group