Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose of Doozy #11: Building a Character as Slapstick: Peter Sellers

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Today, we get a clip from one of the films in The Pink Panther series, A Shot in the Dark, and the wonderful Inspector Clouseau, played by Peter Sellers. 

 

In the first Daily Dose this week we explored how set design was used in 1950s slapstick, then the role of color. In this clip, we look more closely at performance and acting, and how slapstick comedy often results in a particular character being associated with a performer (think of "The Boy" character of Harold Lloyd). 

 

As always, the Daily Dose can also be viewed on the Canvas.net course site in our Daily Dose archive.

 

Enjoy your discussions!

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I appreciate this particular scene being picked for discussion because it is, perhaps, one of the weakest scenes in this particularly good film. We see Sanders, again as often, staring in utter befuddlement at Sellers at he goes about dealing with whatever situation he has caused to become an utter absurdity. Why dwell so long, over and over, upon Sanders' reaction shots? And, in this scene, we have the most absurd of Sellers' haphazard movements, flattening out three-dimensionality itself when he walks into the wall rather than around the door? No, not believably funny.

 

Of course the opening of this clip is probably the most classic in terms of both verbal and physical comedy. M. Ballon (tr. as "balloon") is the most likely suspect and is also Clouseau's romantic rival (at least in his eyes). So the phrase, "writ of fealous jage" has several twisted meanings. But, speaking of "twistings," watch as Sellers works the end of the twisted pool cue like a balloon he'd like to turn into a dog or, perhaps more likely, Ballon's neck in a fit of jealous rage. But, as always, he is mercurial in his moods. Indeed, he is almost schizoid; yet so in command of them that he can seemingly become sly enough to turn that twisted pool cue around, after having mis-cued several times, in an attempt to take advantage of his newly learned skill. Here, the off-camera sound effect picked up from the 1930s slapstick comedies plays to a tickle.

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1. Select one gag from this scene and describe why it is effective as visual and verbal comedy? (You can include discussion of performance, costume, props, set design, sound design)


 


Gag - Sellers playing pool with crooked cue, rips fabric of pool table, attempts to fix it


Performance - Sellers attempts to maintain composure as bumbles through his attempt at playing pool, deadpan expression reminding of Keaton, so much expression in Sellers eyes, word use - realous jage! - wringing of the pool cue prior to making the shot, taking time to set up the gag


Costume - all are dressed in black, restrained in contrast to the ridiculousness of Sellers and the mishaps he finds himself in


Props - the pool cue (crooked) - he uses it in two ways


Set design - color in contrast to the characters in the scene.  Makes the props stand out even more


Sound design - little in the way of sound thus emphasizing the ripping of the fabric on the pool table


 


2. From this scene, what are key characteristics you would use to describe Inspector Clouseau? Based on those characteristics, what makes Clouseau an effective slapstick character?


 


Definitely see exaggeration, physical, ritualistic, and make believe in this character.  Branding of a character like we saw with Chaplin as the tramp, some of the deadpan of Keaton.  He is such a klutz, people have trouble understanding his accent, jokes are repeated throughout the series of Panther movies.   And let's not forget the wonderful music that came to be associated with this character.  More on Clouseau as a character found here:


 


https://en.wikipedia...pector_Clouseau


 


3. Making fun of police/detective work is a line of slapstick comedy that stretches all the way back to Mack Sennett's Keystone Kops in the silent film era. What does Inspector Clouseau add to the history of slapstick characters in law enforcement?


 


As noted in the website above, despite being a klutz, he is successful in solving cases whereas others in the history of slapstick police work, often did not.  Consider how Chaplin outsmarted the police.  Sellers opened the door to a tradition we still see in film with movies like Jump Street, The Heat, etc.  

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1. Select one gag from this scene and describe why it is effective as visual and verbal comedy? (You can include discussion of performance, costume, props, set design, sound design)

 

The crooked cue gag plays well but wouldn't be nearly as funny if not for Clouseau's (Sellers') hesitancy and performance of building the slapstick because the audience already know trouble is abound. The train wreck is commencing :) Pink Panther is iconic so the costume and look of Clouseau is ingrained from the cartoon and movies even without knowing Sellers' style. The genius behind Clouseau is definitely Edwards and Sellers.

 

2. From this scene, what are key characteristics you would use to describe Inspector Clouseau? Based on those characteristics, what makes Clouseau an effective slapstick character?

 

He's a walking contradiction. A paradox in human form. He's doomed for failure but sure to create laughs. Perhaps just perhaps the laws of the universe are on his side so good shall prevail despite his ability to deconstruct anything and everything :)

 

3. Making fun of police/detective work is a line of slapstick comedy that stretches all the way back to Mack Sennett's Keystone Kops in the silent film era. What does Inspector Clouseau add to the history of slapstick characters in law enforcement?

 

He adds (by his very presence and existence) the silly notion that the law and its representatives is always right even when it is clearly bumbling, controlling, and completely ridiculous at the best and worst of times. In summation: he is a freak of nature, complete chaos exemplified. A hurricane/tornado/tidal wave of insanity :)

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1. The gag that I chose to explore was the mangling of Seller's pool cue and subsequent shot which ripped the pool table. The set up for this gag was a treat to watch, as the actor was manipulating the cue while talking about "fealous jage". The payoff was then perfect when it is revealed to the audience just how much mangling Seller's has done to the cue, yet will still attempt to pull off a billiards shot. The exceptional setup that allows the audience to see what's happening without exposing it overtly is part of what makes Peter Seller's comedy unmatched. 

 

2. The key attribute I understand from Sellers in this scene that makes him an effective slapstick character is his air of ignorance. Every slapstick character seems to have some aspect that they are ignorant of. In Sellers' case, he is so sure that he has solved the case, that he becomes ignorant of his surroundings and the effect he is having on them, creating some funny situations. 

 

3. Sellers adds to the slapstick tradition of poking fun at detectives by the ever so obvious attempts he makes as fixing several mistakes he makes. For instance, after ripping the billiards table, he pulls and tugs at the ends of the ripped cloth in an overt, yet feeble, attempt to repair his mistake. The visual of the authority figure making a mistake, then being unable to fix it, so trying for a haphazard repair is one seen time and time again, yet done well as Sellers did, never gets old.

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What does Inspector Clouseau add to the history of slapstick characters in law enforcement?

 

One thing, I think, that makes Clouseau distinctive is the degree to which he takes himself seriously and the extent to which others will go to buy into this and to take him seriously as well.  Clouseau truly believes that whoever invented the cue stick rack made a terrible job of it.  While Maria Gambrelli seems always to regard Clouseau as her heroic police inspector.  Clouseau’s high regard for his own abilities makes his ineptitude all the funnier.  This characteristic will be emulated in future police procedural spoofs.

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I think my favorite gag on this scene is the moment when the inspector tries to get out of the room and misses the door. It is visually perfect because at this point we've already seen Clouseau in a series of misfortunes, some of them even predictable ones (like the bent stick, which obviously isn't going to end well) and the action is highly unexpected. Things get even better because of his later observation about the house's architecture, which obiously is an attempt to run away from his own responsability for the punch in the face. Laughing a lot until now!

 

Clouseau has a strong accent, is clumsy, proud-spirited about his beliefs and his actions are somehow a repetition of visual and/or verbal gags one after another. We don't know exactly what will come next, but we're sure someting wrong is gonna happen! With that in mind, we have at least two of the five main slapstick characteristics clearly visible on him (ritualistic routines and make-believe). In a time when visual slapstick didn't have as much physical tone as decades earlier, we can say for sure that this is a genuine slapstick.

 

I think one of the key new-elements relies on the fact that the police/detectives may be wrong as much as anyone else. While in the past gerat part of gags was based on visual and physical situations, Clouseau personality give shape to the character as well. We definetely don't take him seriously!

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1.     Select one gag from this scene and describe why it is effective as visual and verbal comedy? (You can include discussion of performance, costume, props, set design, sound design)

 

My favorite gag from this scene would be when Inspector Clouseau accuses George Sanders of murder with so much intensity (jage or rage) that he warps the shape of his cue stick to the point where it could never be used yet he presses on with the billiards game.  Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau maintains a straight face and a serious demeanor in contrast to the visually absurd prop, his cue stick and takes his shot.  Though we do not see him making actual contact with the table, the sound effect of the ripping cloth is hilarious.

 

2.     From this scene, what are key characteristics you would use to describe Inspector Clouseau? Based on those characteristics, what makes Clouseau an effective slapstick character?  

 

Inspector Clouseau’s key characteristics would be the seriousness in how he approaches his profession, his solid determination to solve the case and his physical ineptness.  This makes for a perfect combination to deliver slapstick situations throughout an otherwise dramatic storyline. He’s effective in solving crime as long as he can survive his own physical bungling nature.

 

3.     Making fun of police/detective work is a line of slapstick comedy that stretches all the way back to Mack Sennett's Keystone Kops in the silent film era. What does Inspector Clouseau add to the history of slapstick characters in law enforcement?  

 

I believe what Mack Sennett wanted to do was to take what would normally be considered a very serious profession (Cops) and look at it in the light of comedy (Kops) and from that angle add every conceivable idea of a gag, from car chases to bank robberies and make them funny, laughable situations.  Inspector Clouseau’s character updated the Mack Sennett idea and adapted it into the 1960s and made it playable for a more modern audience. 

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Select one gag from this scene and describe why it is effective as visual and verbal comedy? (You can include discussion of performance, costume, props, set design, sound design)

 

There are two gags that work because of a lack of visual and the use of sound effects.

 

The first is Clouseau using the stick to tear the pool table top.  The camera establishes Clouseau, the table, the ball, and the cue stick before zooming into Clouseau.  When Clouseau strikes the ball, we don’t see the tear but hear the fabric ripping.

 

The second is when Clouseau is leaving the room at the end of the clip.  He exits on the wrong side of the door and runs into the wall.  Again, we don’t see him running into the wall but hear the sound of him crashing into the wall.  The use of sound and lack of visuals allows viewers to create our own visual comedy mentally.

 

2. From this scene, what are key characteristics you would use to describe Inspector Clouseau? Based on those characteristics, what makes Clouseau an effective slapstick character?

 

Of course, Peter Sellers is an outstanding comedic performer.  His facial expression, physical movements, and humorous accents makes Clouseau a great character.  But to me, the contrast between Clouseau’s outragous character and the subdued reactions of the actors in the same scene make the situations funnier.  George Sanders is a great dramatic actor.  It is Sander’s ability to “play it straight” against the bumbling Clouseau that heightens the comedy.

 

3. Making fun of police/detective work is a line of slapstick comedy that stretches all the way back to Mack Sennett's Keystone Kops in the silent film era. What does Inspector Clouseau add to the history of slapstick characters in law enforcement?

 

It is the blend of comedy and drama in the Pink Panther films that make the Clouseau character work.  The Keystone Kops were cartoonish in their films.  While Clouseau is a bit outrageous, the Pink Panther films could easily be turned into a drama (unlike the Keystone Cop films) had Sellers decided to play it straight without the laughs.

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Inspector Clouseau is one of the best comedy characters ever made, and the fact that films with him are still made (although after Sellers no one was even close to him) proves his lasting legacy and popularity.

 

Sellers' Clouseau has no match when it comes to combining visual with verbal gags. Here, we watch him angrily confronting the incomparable George Sanders with his trademark outrageous French accent, while at the same time he's having trouble with a weird billiard cue the latter gave him, and later with all the cues.

 

Clouseau is a typical comedy character, naive, dim-witted, well-natured and always cool, even when the world is collasping right next to him. This clip shows one of the very few moments when he becomes really furious, shouting nonsense at Sanders' character, though his tend to blame others for his own mishaps (as in the last moments of the clip) is another trademark of his. Despite his general kindness, Clouseau thinks he's always right (paradoxically enough, he usually is, when it comes to serious matters), even when his conclusions make absolutely no sense, and will not take it easy when someone challenges his methods, ideas and conclusions.

 

Policemen appear in film comedy from the very early years but, as mostly seen in Charlie Chaplin's films, they are usually antagonists. Clouseau was perhaps the first protagonist cop, and his success helped mixing comedy with other genres such as police procedurals and crime films. Film franchises like Le Gendarme de Saint TropezPolice Academy, Beverly Hills Cop and The Naked Gun all used similar or different policemen as protagonists and the "cop comedy" sub-genre has become vastly successful. Clouseau was one of the keys to this success.

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I love what Barracuda89 points out below about the attempts to fix a mistake....especially with the cue sticks, the physical comedy of tripping and trying to get them to be upright.

I think Seller's comedy is so funny because I think all of us have a little of him in us.....you're trying to be taken seriously or do something simple, and you screw it up in front of someone and then you're rushed and can just make it more horrible.  That's what makes me laugh even harder.  :)

 

 

 

3. Sellers adds to the slapstick tradition of poking fun at detectives by the ever so obvious attempts he makes as fixing several mistakes he makes. For instance, after ripping the billiards table, he pulls and tugs at the ends of the ripped cloth in an overt, yet feeble, attempt to repair his mistake. The visual of the authority figure making a mistake, then being unable to fix it, so trying for a haphazard repair is one seen time and time again, yet done well as Sellers did, never gets old.

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From the beginning of this clip with the curved pool cue to the walking into the wall behind the door at the end, Peter Sellers shows his excellent comedic talents.  He is another master of slapstick.  The one gag I particularly liked (and laughed out loud) was Sellers trying to put the cue back in the rack, with them falling all over the place, including himself.  IT was a masterful performance hitting all the spots with the props.  He tops it off with walking behind the door to exit into a wall.  His physical slapstick combined with his verbal slapstick (in the misuse of language) is hysterical.

 

Clouseau is a bumbling detective who somehow manages to get the right culprit.  George Sanders, more of a dramatic actor, is a perfect foil to Sellers' jousting.  IT's Clouseau's verbal and physical slapstick that puts him in the class with Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd.

The butler, Maurice, adds to the comical atmosphere as he too struggles with Clouseau and the pool sticks.

 

These days there's not too much fun in police dramas.  Sellers added to the rapid mistakes of the Keystone Kops and created his own immortal simple-minded, straight-faced, yet intelligent detective.  Can't wait to watch the whole film again.

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In the clip from “A Shot in the Dark” I particularly enjoyed the gag about the pool cue rack. I loved the way it initially started by knocking it over and then continued through as he tried to pick it up. I found the use of verbal slapstick to continue the gag inventive. Clouseau finally gives up trying to fix the rack then says, “Whoever invened that rack should have his head examined.” Sellers then continues the gag as he tries to leave the room but runs into the wall and then says, “I suggest you have your architect investigated as well.”

 

I think this gag is a great comic paradigm spoofing some peoples lack of willingness to admit they made a mistake or were wrong. Since Clouseau is an Inspector I think it can especially apply to public officials and politicians. However, in todays information-driven society I believe it has an even broader scope. I work at a museum and I have found over the years there seems to be an increasing reluctance for some people to say the words, “I don't know” in response to a question. Perhaps I should show them this clip so they can see the comic reaction to bumbling through a made-up answer. ;)

 

Perhaps we laugh so hard at Inspector Clouseau because remember the times we we were clumsy are awkward. So in essence we are laughing at ourselves. We also remember to admit to our foibles.

 

 

It is to Sellers credit that he is able to make these satirical comments through his character but still keep his character likeable. Leslie Nielsen had the same talent as seen in his comedies. I wonder if he was a fan of Peter Sellers.

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I am a fan of Pink Panther movies (Peter Sellers only), so I have watched this movie many times, even so it is always funny. You know all the cue sticks are going to fall over, you wait for it and laugh anyway. I do also enjoy his verbal slapstick- you just try saying " a rit of fealous jage". 

I think that what makes Clouseau a good slapstick character is that he is- like Keaton and Lloyd- an ordinary guy, an everyday man. This also makes for  a good slapstick policeman- he is the same as other people, but he still saves the day. 

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Clouseau's mangled words are always so funny!  He's almost creating a new language.  The setting up of the pool shot, anticipation growing, growing, and then RRRRIP!  is classic visual SS.  This film is my favorite Pink Panther.

 

The description of "judas goat" (new to me) is very apt for Clouseau;  he bumbles so badly but just muddles through, causing mayhem for everyone around him.  He, of course, hasn't a clue; nothing is his fault.  

 

Sellers furthers the cop as comedy by updating for new generations, and maybe making it more personal  

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I love how Peter Sellers builds his character, The bent pool cue on the green felt covering on the table, Clouseau makes his shot ripping the felt and then he ties to put it back together. I think this makes the gag very effective in both verbal and visual comedy. I would describe Clouseau as a trench coat wearing, bumbling fool, who can'r play pool. Clouseau in my opinion displays the right type of zany,.clutzy, and buffoonish characteristics that make for a very effective slapstick character. I think Clouseau added a little more sophistication to the gags of slapstick.

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The character of Clouseau is a perfect set of contradictions. If he were standing stii, not saying a word we would probably think of him as a dignified, well dressed, totally in control upper level police officer...then he speaks and as he becomes more excited spoonerisms erupt (that he does not appear to notice and George Sanders' character is too well bred to mention.

 

My favorite gag in this scene is Clouseau's attempt to put the pool cue away. His approach is a bit tentative and evolves into a wrestling match with all the cues on the floor as Sanders looks on bemused and slightly concerned. Sellers succeeds in pulling the butler into the battle as he extracts himself and attempts to regain his dignity and authority by blaming the designer of the cue rack. Clouseau never wants to appear at a disadvantage in front of his social superiors or inferiors which makes his quick recovery from his bumbling actions all the more hilarious. The door gag is the perfect way to end this clip.

 

Seller's Clouseau is a much more fully constructed character than say, the Keystone Kops or the cops in Chaplin's films. They were simply means to an end and we never really cared about them. We care about him, we see him in all phases of his crazy life and wish him well in solving the crime and anxiously await his next move with laughter and a few cringes.

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The bent pool cue gag is one that has been done many times before this film and by iconic slapstick actors so the audience knows that this is going to go poorly. The fact that he can take what could have been a tired old gag, adapt it to a more modern setting combined with his expressions and timing, and then execute a really funny scene that feels fresh is pretty amazing.

 

Peter Sellers was a rare comic genius evidenced in the Clouseau series and characters he played in movies like The Party to even small cameo appearances in pictures like The Road To Hong Kong. In my view, the brilliance of Sellers is in his ability to so totally own the character and simultaneously take seriously the ridiculous character and situation while also poking fun at the same. Nothing in the scene is off limits as a prop or subject area for a gag. Often when one is viewing a film or TV show, it can be irritating when a gag is entirely predictable. With Sellers, he not only telegraphs the gag but he is painfully patient in its execution so the anticipation adds to the comedy. That is incredibly hard to do even once but he can do this to a viewer continuously throughout a film and it does not get old.

 

The Clouseau character of the bumbling detective takes a step forward from his predecessors in that he is not simply a bumbler who is the butt of the joke. He is a lovable character that you want to succeed and although he leaves chaos in his wake, he does actually, albeit by accident, solve the crimes. Peter Falk performed the next evolution to this character type in Columbo. He dressed like Clouseau and appeared to be a bumbling detective but in fact was the brilliant detective using that persona to his advantage.

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The gag that stands out in this clip is when Clouseau attempts to put the pool cue back. It quickly turns into a wrestling match withe cue caddie winning. All the while George Sanders looks and simply says to him not to bother that the butler will take care of it. The Clouseau makes his exit on the wrong side of the door and says that Sanders should have his architect investagated too.

Both are great examples of visual (wrestling with the pool caddie and losing) and verbal (redirecting the situation back to Sanders because he walked out of the room behind the door).

 

 

Clouseau appears physically to be a top notch policeman. Well dressed, neat in appearance but then he speaks and it is obvious he is a bumbling boob.

 

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1. The gag where Closseau has to put up the billiard cues on the rack and the way that he tries to set them back up is effective in both visual and verbal comedy for the precise amount of timing and the case of involving another person in the scene to fix up the gag only to end disastrously with a mess of pool cues on the floor.

 

2. The rambling of words that are misspelled, his body movement that causes accidents to happen in the scene is timed precisely with the setup, his extensive use of pratfalls, and is able to make any situation that is dramatic/serious into a comic relief for the film. His use of an exaggerated foreign accent that is a throwback to ethnic humor is also memorable.

 

3. That he represents a bumbling police detective that often finds himself in humorous situations that would lead him to trouble or in a predicament that could lead him to another clue of solving the case. His character would be the model for Maxwell Smart in Get Smart (1965), and Inspector Slege Hammer in Sledge Hammer! (1986) that also land the title characters into humorous situations that could be troubling to the other characters.

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When we first see Clouseau in the clip, we assume he is a dignified officer of the law until he says "rit of fealous jage". Then we start to see the lovable, bumbling detective. We wonder if he deliberately pointed the curved cue stick in the direction so the felt ripped. If he turned it the other way, the ball would probably go flying and destroy a piece of priceless artwork or a window.

 

The best gag is the cue rack, where Clouseau clumsily tries to put his stick back and sends the other sticks all over the place. Getting the butler involved further fuels the fire in the gag.

 

Law enforcement has been made fun of since the Keystone Kops. Clouseau's character is sophisticated on the outside but a clown and a fool on the inside. He also adds to the aura of European sophistication, especially since many of the crimes he tries to solve involve the well-to-do instead of working and middle class like in earlier films.

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1. Select one gag from this scene and describe why it is effective as visual and verbal comedy. You can include discussion of performance, costume, props, set design, sound design.

I’ll pick my favorite gag, which is the last one in the clip. Inspector Clouseau has trouble putting his billiard cue in the rack with the others and creates a funny scenario when he gets tangled up in all of them (visual use of props). He quips, “Whoever invented that rack should have his head examined.” When he makes his exit, he misses the doorway and continues the theme by telling Ballon, “I suggest you have your architect investigated as well.” The gag uses a combination of props, physical comedy, and verbal one-liners (and uses exaggeration, make-believe, and physicality: three out of the five characteristics of slapstick listed at the start of the course).

An Aside: Monsieur Ballon’s name reminds me of the villain from Gilda, the nightclub owner with the same name who marries Gilda and escapes Brazil when he becomes a murder suspect. I wonder if the choice of name was intentional.
2. From this scene, what are key characteristics you would use to describe Inspector Clouseau? Based on those characteristics, what makes Clouseau an effective slapstick character?

Inspector Clouseau takes himself and his work very seriously, although he’s completely clueless (pun alert!) about both himself and his work. The combination of seriousness, ineptitude, and cluelessness is perfect for slapstick.
3. Making fun of police/detective work is a line of slapstick comedy that stretches all the way back to Mack Sennett’s Keystone Kops in the silent film era. What does Inspector Clouseau add to the history of slapstick characters in law enforcement?

I think Peter Sellers’s delivery of one-liners adds a lot to the slapstick canon. His Inspector Clouseau is another very quotable slapstick character. Inspector Clouseau becomes the focus of attention in a rather different way in the Pink Panther movies: The other characters and the viewers are all in league, so to speak, watching his physical comedy and reacting (or not reacting, in the case of Monsieur Ballon) to his funny lines.

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1) The warped pool stick. The fact that inspector Clouseau has gripped and stroked the stick so hard it has warped, yet he still chooses to use it, hoping that the suspect won,t notice.                                                                                                                                                                                                     2) He,s clueless and inept even through all this, He still trying to portray a man who has it all together.                                                                                                                                                                    3) Even through all that happens to him,He manages to keep up the facade that no matter, what its all part of the game. It happens then he,s on to the next thing leaving behind chaos and destruction in his wake                                                                                                                                                                               

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I was just giddy with delight know when we were now going to go into inspector Clouseau . Peter Sellers, the best! You got your Lucille Ball and you got your Peter Sellers. It's a good week. The gag I pick to break down : When the inspector accuses George Sanders of "rid of Fealous jage" My dictation refuses to let me miss spell.… Anyway he is slowly twisting on the pool stick as his eyes Pierce George Sanders in complete seriousness with his ridiculous delivery. And then he bends over with a now deformed pool stick links his eyes a few times as he turns it around so he can put his all into hitting the ball. BUT , Of course he rips the pool table. Cut back to George Sanders and then a quick cut back to a bumbling fingered Clouseau trying to fix the rip. Very funny. And the edit was a big part of the laugh. But Peter Sellers dead serious, goes to slightly embarrassed blinking I has he tries to play, and then the fumbling fingers and apologetic expression on his face as he tries to fix pool table. Comedy gem.

Inspector Clouseau is a perfect slapstick, gag character. He is very sincere, serious, intense, and a bumbling fool. Always has an answer for his ridiculousness: Blaming the person who made the pool stick holder and the architect that put the door on the wrong side of the wall. Perfect recipe for funny. Peter sellers was a brilliant actor. And perfection as inspector Clouseau.

Because of all the attributes I wrote above, inspector Clouseau is perfection in the bumbling cop genre.

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1) Favorite gag - shooting with the curved pool cue. What we missed was that he had previously tried shooting with the curve going up, and missed the ball. ​But now he is smarter and turns the curve downward. Hearing the rip and cutting to George Sanders and then back to Clouseau trying to fix the rip was great! Better to see and imagine what has happened and then seeing the result is wonderful. Working your imagination with the joke makes it funnier. And George Sanders keeping a straight face makes it all the funnier.

 

2) He maintains his serious composure in the face of all the destruction and mistakes he makes (including knocking over the cue stand and walking into the wall.) This makes the gags even funnier.

 

3) Never apologizing like other police officers do in films. He is a bit arrogant with others saying that THEY are the problem. I've worked with people like this, but they weren't nearly as funny as Peter Sellers!

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