A Shot in the Dark
A Shot in the Dark (1964) Here’s where the real Inspector Clouseau was born. The man who has never in his life hung a coat on a peg without seeing it immediately fall off, never walked past a small table without spilling its contents, never opened a door without the handle coming off in his hand, and infinite variations on these gags and others … and yet clings to his tattered dignity though it all. He’s not smart, but he is dedicated and sincere, and that’s why we love him as he blunders through life. Blake Edwards and William Peter Blatty (no kidding!) took a French comic play about a bumbling detective, L’Idiote, and rewrote it for Clouseau and it all worked for me. This one co-stars Elke Sommer, who I had a severe crush on in 1964. This Teutonic goddess and former au pair looks like a dumb blonde, and she’s not much of an actress, and most of her films ranged from pretty bad to very bad, but I was astonished to learn she speaks seven languages, which means she could make films in just about any country she chose to. For years I’d been wanting to see The Prize again, a film she made with Paul Newman that I really liked at the time, and that Newman was probably happy to forget. It isn’t available on DVD, but then it showed up on TCM.