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You can get obese with him not overfed
on 28 July 2010
Everything is special about these films, all of them even the postmortem one. The plot is not interesting. It is as empty as empty can be since it is not a thriller but a comedy and it does not pretend to be a thriller. As comedies these films are all of them absolutely superb. The gags, the antics, the absurd funny events are all just as laughable as you may both imagine and hope. And yet these films are a lot more than just comedies. They are in a way very dramatic, but on the side. Chief Inspector Clouzeau is by far one of the best characters I have ever seen in that line and consistent enough to last four films plus a post mortem. The character is so illogical in his logic that you cannot but laugh and laugh and laugh again: he is pathetic. He is an anti-Sherlock-Holmes with the simple logic of doing exactly the reverse of what standard logic would tell you should do. He is an anti-Hercule-Poirot since he is in no way calm and collected. He is looking for trouble, he is creating trouble because trouble brings the wolf out of the wood and then he gets what he wants, the wolf itself generally in an overkill or cosmic catastrophe. In fact Hercule is his assistant. You could think of Colombo and his very special trench coat and sloppiness, but even Colombo is short when compared with Inspector Clouzeau. There used to be a female private eye on TV with a black panther. But she can't compare since our panther is pink, like the famous elephants. Amos Burke is no equal to our hero because Amos was born with a golden spoon in his mouth. Murphy is no catch either because that one is beyond the line of standard police work and has to do with plotting and networking and the gangsterism of the next generation that only aims at killing and certainly not at making their bystanders laugh. He can in no way be compared to Miss Marple or whatever other famous private dilettante detective. He is his own and no one else's. But the films without Peter Sellers would not be even worth watching. Peter Sellers himself in his faces, in his antics, in his way of speaking a type of Frenglish that even the characters in "Allo Allo" did not match in spite of all their efforts, in every single element of his acting and behaving he is funny and hilarious, and at the same time touching and sensitive. He has a heart, in spite of all. The music is a marvel and a miracle of film music. It is so perfect that they could not even try to get away from it. The animated credits with the real Pink Panther are in their own style masterpieces. There is no deeper analysis you can do because these films are not deep, and yet. Why is our society so thrilled by such funny comedies making fun of the French policeman, of the French gendarme, of the French detective and inspector? Because I guess in France making fun of their national Chickens has become a national Olympic sport, even in advertising. They have been compared to all kinds of animals and what's more every Frenchy finds that funny, except maybe the Minister of Interior who is responsible for security. But the day when the French Froggies are not able to laugh, or croak, at their cops or coppers, the world will really be finished, incinerated and disposed of. Let's never dream of such a bad ending to the present thriller our lives are.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Paris 8 Saint Denis, University Paris 12 Créteil, CEGID