A Shot in the Dark (1964)
A murder has been committed at the palatial Parisian residence of Benjamin Ballon (George Sanders). All the evidence points to sexy, wide-eyed housemaid Maria Gambrelli (Elke Sommer). Police inspector Dreyfuss (Herbert Lom) is prepared to make an arrest -- and then the gloriously, monumentally inept Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers) arrives on the scene.
Clouseau may have difficulty getting through the day without falling into ponds, knocking people cold with opened doors, and pocketing flaming cigarette lighters, but his instincts are right on target when he decides that Mme. Gambrelli is being framed by someone else in the Ballon household.
Even as the murder victims pile up, Clouseau is determined to prove Mme. Gambrelli's innocence. As he cuts a bumbling, destructive swath through Paris, Clouseau drives Dreyfuss literally insane. This fact leads to the literally explosive climax, and to the ultimate vindication of Mme.
Gambrelli. While we first met Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther, Shot in the Dark is the film that truly established the Clouseau mythos: the festive clumsiness, the convoluted dialogue (You shot him in a rit of fealous jage!), the Fractured French (A beump on zee head!), the twitching lunacy of poor Inspector Dreyfuss, the unexpected judo lessons of Clouseau's houseboy Kato (Burt Kwouk), and of course the hilariously macabre jokes involving dead or seriously injured bystanders.
You'd never know it, but A Shot in the Dark was inspired by a standard three-act stage comedy by Harry Kurnitz, which in turn was adapted from the French play L'Idiote by Marcel Achard.
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