I was flipping channels this Saturday, and the local PBS channel was playing "classic" movies. The first of the double feature was 1964's Shot in the Dark, second in the series that would be known as the Pink Panther movies. Here are some comments and fun facts to know and tell.
1. It doesn't hold up very well. Peter Sellers performs a lot of slapstick and other actors are obviously directed not to respond. There's underplaying comedy and then there's being completely dead. A lot of the scenes fall flat because there's no energy from the other actors. Laurel and Hardy were great slapstick artists, but it worked because Ollie got so upset so fast and Stan broke into tears so brilliantly.
2. Elke Sommer's character is named Maria Gambrelli. She's very lovely, but does she look like a Maria Gambrelli to you? The character was originally supposed to be played by Sophia Loren. Now she looks like a Maria Gambrelli!
3. I stopped watching after an hour, and the funniest things in the first hour were Herbert Lom's worsening facial tick, Herbert Lom underplaying his reaction to cutting off his thumb in his guillotine cigar cutter, and the last credit in the cast "Introducing Turk Thrust". The actor's real name was Bryan Forbes, who had been working as an actor for about 15 years before this film, and continued working for decades after as a writer and director. Sellers and Forbes had invented Turk Thrust as the name of a fictional pop star. This became something of an in joke, and in one of the later, even less funny films in the franchise, Sir Roger Moore was credited as "Turk Thrust II". Moore was best man at Forbes' wedding many years before.
4. If you want a film composer to write a catchy tune, here's your list, in no particular order.
a) Henry Mancini
b) Nino Rota
c) Elmer Bernstein
I didn't like the movie, but I can't get the instrumental theme out of my head.
Now playing: They Might Be Giants - Why Must I Be Sad?