Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Pink Panther (1963)

WHO: Robert Wagner was one of several actors in this ensemble cast who found themselves upstaged and overshadowed by Peter Sellers' performance as Inspector Jacques Clouseau.

WHAT: The Pink Panther, of course, was named for the pink diamond at the center of the plot of this jewel-thief comedy, but it became more identified with the cartoon character created by animation director Friz Freleng for the film's opening credits sequence (which Freleng once speculated as being the longest animated credits sequence in a feature film release up to that point), and with the Inspector Clouseau character, who appeared in more sequels (six) than the jewel (three) ever did. Not to mention the reboot and its own sequel starring Steve Martin in the Clouseau role.

WHERE/WHEN: Tonight only at the Castro Theatre at 7:30 PM. Tickets are FREE with an RSVP (which, last I checked, it was not too late to répondez to), but you may have luck as a walk-up as well, if you don't mind waiting in a line or two.

WHY: Robert Wagner will be on hand for tonight's screening, interviewed by Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies in a run-up to their film festival in Hollywood later this month. He may not be the best-remembered element of The Pink Panther but he's sure to have some tales to tell about working with departed participants such as Sellers, David Niven, and director Blake Edwards.

Wagner will be seen again on-screen (though surely not in-person) at the Stanford Theatre May 9 & 10 when that venue shows A Kiss Before Dying, which he starred in. Unfortunately, I'm not aware of any other Peter Sellers or Blake Edwards (or even David Niven or Claudia Cardinale) films expected to screen in nearby cinemas any time soon.

However, Friz Freleng fans (and I'm certainly one of them!) should note that one of the first films he animated for the Warner Brothers studio, 1931's Smile, Darn Ya, Smile, screens as part of an Oddball Films 16mm tribute to the jazz age. That program includes several other jazz-inflected short films from the twenties and early thirties, as well as two 1970s revisitations of F. Scott Fitzgerald: Joan Micklin Silver's fine adaptation of his story Bernice Bobs Her Hair with Shelley Duvall in the lead role, and an eight-minute excerpt from the mostly-reviled 1974 version of The Great Gatsby.

HOW: Despite the printed version of the calendar mistakenly starting otherwise, tonight's screening of The Pink Panther is planned to be a 35mm showing.

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