The film was one of two produced concurrently following the death of the series' star, Peter Sellers. Whereas the previous film, Trail of the Pink Panther made use of unused footage of Sellers as Inspector Clouseau, Curse attempted to relaunch the series with a new lead, Ted Wass, as Sergeant. Clifton Sleigh, an equally incompetent police officer assigned to find the missing Inspector Clouseau. The film was a critical and commercial failure, however, Roger Moore, who cameoed at the end of the film as Clouseau, was praised for his comedic performance.
Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau, hailed as France's greatest detective, has disappeared and no trace can be found of him. Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) is under pressure to set up a thorough inquiry (Operation Paragon). What the world at large does not realise is that Clouseau was a clumsy, bungling idiot whose cases were solved more through luck than actual detective work.
Since Clouseau's clumsiness drove him to a series of nervous breakdowns, Dreyfus in particular is desperate not to see or hear from him ever again. He is told to use the Interpol computer, a fictional Huxley 600 named "Huxley" to find the world's greatest detective, but instead sabotages the machine to select the worst. This turns out to be Sergeant Clifton Sleigh (Ted Wass), an officer of the NYPD who are glad to get rid of him for a while.
Sleigh, who is descended from a long line of cops, sees this as an opportunity to prove his worth. Dreyfus and his long-suffering assistant Sergeant Francois Chevalier (André Maranne) soon find that the plan has worked a bit too well: Sleigh is just as clumsy as Clouseau, falling around, causing disaster and driving Dreyfus crazy.
As he sets about his inquiry, Sleigh becomes the target of many people who would rather he did not find Clouseau. These include the inspector's former manservant Cato (Burt Kwouk) (who had given up trying to defeat Sleigh the first time and let him go to find the missing Inspector); Dreyfus, who attempts to kill Sleigh like he tried to kill Clouseau; and Bruno Langois (Robert Loggia), the mafia boss. Langois attempts many assassinations on Sleigh, but Sleigh's bumbling nature allows him to evade the attacks, and ultimately, Langois, along with his henchmen (including Mr. Chong from Revenge of the Pink Panther), have a final showdown with Sleigh, although a mysterious young woman (smitten with Sleigh) comes to his rescue and manages to defeat Langlois (by giving him the Family Jewels) and the thugs in combat. Langlois is finally arrested and taken to prison.
Sleigh also meets Sir Charles Litton (David Niven) who is married to Clouseau's former wife Simone (Capucine) and accompanied by his nephew George Litton (Robert Wagner). Sir Charles Litton is the notorious jewel thief known as the Phantom, though only Clouseau was convinced of this. The Phantom would steal items of jewelry and leave behind a white glove.Eventually the trail leads Sleigh to a health spa run by Countess Chandra (Joanna Lumley). There he meets a famous British film star (Roger Moore), who speaks with a rather odd French accent and falls about all over the place (behaviour characteristic which would be familiar to those who have seen the previous films in the series). Countess Chandra tells Sleigh that Clouseau visited her claiming to be Gino Rossi and asking for a good plastic surgeon.
Sleigh concludes, wrongly, that Clouseau stole the Pink Panther diamond, underwent plastic surgery, was made to look like Rossi and was then killed for the diamond. Anxious to end the matter and be rid of Sleigh, Dreyfus announces that this is indeed the case and that the deceased Rossi was Clouseau (though it is clear that Dreyfus does not believe that this is what happened).
As it transpires, the Pink Panther was stolen by Gino Rossi (Christopher Reich) who bore a little physical resemblance to Clouseau. Rossi then tried to sell the diamond to Countess Chandra who instead killed him (shown in the pre-credits sequence) when trying to kill Clouseau who arrived at Chandra's house to retrieve the diamond. His body was later found on a beach. The film star that Sleigh met was in fact Clouseau who had undergone very extensive plastic surgery. Sleigh is right insofar that Clouseau has "turned bad", becoming Countess Chandra's lover and partner in crime (possibly either have been brainwashed by the Countess or disillusioned about going against criminals); but when they go to admire the Pink Panther it is to find that it has been taken from its safe and replaced by a white glove. "Swine Phantom!" mutters Clouseau, knowing only too well who is responsible for the theft.
Meanwhile Sir Charles, Simone and George sail away on board the Lytton yacht, along with the Pink Panther and Sleigh returns to New York which horrified Lt. Palymra
Old Timeline Future
- David Niven as Charles Litton/Phantom P
- Ted Wass as Clifton/Sergeant
- Robert Wagner as George Lytton
- Capucine as Lady Simone Litton
- Leslie Ash as Juleta Shane
- Burt Kwouk as Cato
- Ed Parker as M.R. Chong
- William Hootskin as Taxi Driver
- Graham Stark as Bored Waiter
- Roger Moore as Clouseau
- Patti Darvis as Michell Chauvin
New Timeline Past
- Herbert Lom as Dreyfus
- Andre Maranne as Francios
- Joanna Lumley as Countess Chandra
- Harvey Korman as Prof. August Balls
- Robert Loggia as Bruno Langios
- Peter Arne as Colonel Bufoni
- Arthur Howard as Arthur, JR.
- Steve Franken as The Drunk
- Denise Crosby as Denise
- Geoffrey Beevers as Concreig
- Patrick Murray as Bellboy
- Donald Sumpter as Dave
- Diana Goodman as Dreyfus's Girlfriend
- Fred Personne as French Taxi Driver
Future in Son of The Pink Panther
- Debrah Farentino as Princess Yasmin
- Graham Stark as Prof. Balls
- Dermot Crowley as Francios
- Claudine Cardinal as Maria Gambrelli
- Rich Little as Sir Charles Litton
Dudley Moore had been Blake Edwards' original choice for the role of Det. Clifton Sleigh, but Moore turned it down, not wishing to commit to a series following the success of Arthur. Edwards suggested Rowan Atkinson for the role, but the studio rejected the choice as he was unknown outside of Britain at the time.
David Niven, Capucine and Robert Wagner had been the stars of the original Pink Panther film. It was Niven's final film performance and, due to his failing health, his voice was dubbed by impressionist Rich Little.Roger Moore's scenes were shot during a break from shooting Octopussy. He was credited as "Turk Thrust II", a nod to actor Bryan Forbes, who used the pseudonym "Turk Thrust" in the 1964 Clouseau film, A Shot in the Dark, as a member of a nudist camp. As it happens, Moore was best man at Forbes' wedding.
Clouseau leaving his profession as a police officer for a life of crime was a direct reference to Peter Sellers's unfilmed (due to Sellers's death) Romance of the Pink Panther script, which did have, at least in its first draft, Clouseau leaving the force and joining his new wife (The Frog as the script had her) in her life of crime.
A new arrangement for The Pink Panther Theme Tune (similar to the theme from Revenge of the Pink Panther) with heavy synthesizers is present, to align the theme with '80s music trends. Curiously, this would be the only film in the series not to have a soundtrack album released until The Pink Panther 2.
The original tagline on posters was 'He's been bombed, blasted and plugged in the parachute... Is this any way to welcome the World's Greatest Detective?'.
Box Office Edit
Curse of the Pink Panther was a critical and box office failure, with the general consensus that attempting to continue the Pink Panther series without Sellers was foolhardy. However, It has since became a cult classic sequel among recent Pink Panther fans that led to its first DVD release.
Critics agree, though, that one positive aspect of the film was Moore's cameo which makes quite a contrast to his usual part of suave and sophisticated hero. Falling about, mixing up his words and wearing an ice bucket for most of his scenes, Moore displays a previously unshown talent for comedy.
Further films were cancelled, although another unsuccessful attempt at reviving the series occurred 10 years later with Son of the Pink Panther, starring Roberto Benigni as Clouseau's illegitimate son. Another, only this time commercially successful, attempt was made in 2006 with Steve Martin as Clouseau, though his film is considered a rebooting of the franchise rather than a continuation.