This is the first of what became Peter Sellers' long-running series of `Clouseau' films. It was intended to be a one-off vehicle for David Niven and Sellers role was secondary, which is why this film, in comparison to those later in the series, seems restrained.
Niven plays suave, genial Sir Charles Litton, a Raffles-type figure who relieves the well-heeled of their jewels and leaves behind a monogrammed glove to boast of his deed. He has his sights on the Pink Panther diamond owned by Princess Dala.
The lovely Capucine is his covert assistant who is also the wife of well-meaning, bumbling Inspector Clouseau and she runs elegant rings around him to protect the identity of her lover.
Sellers' portrayal of his character is different to his later interpretations, though the basics are there; clumsy, suspicious, naïve and slightly self-important, traits which he would build to immense proportions in later years.
A commentary is provided by the late Blake Edwards which is, to put it mildly, lacking in dynamism, but does impart a few interesting tit-bits, such as Brenda de Banzie's chastening experience after being rude to Italian rail attendants and the surprising info that Claudia Cardinale's voice was entirely dubbed.
This film is essentially a classy farce and very much of its time, but it has a chicness and charm which was about to disappear from movies and will be of interest to Sellers fans who want to see his Clouseau character in its earliest incarnation. Although a couple of scenes are overlong (an early Cardinale/Niven scene runs over 9 minutes) it's a pleasant, undemanding film punctuated with moments of slapstick and lunacy.