SRP $69.96 2.35:1(16:9) DOLBY DIGITAL 5.1 MGM

MGM has released yet another boxed set collection of dvds, this time with “most” of the “PINK PANTHER” films. The term “most” is used, because, unfortunately, arguably the best film in the series, “Return of the Pink Panther,” isn’t included. A mediocre presentation has been available on dvd from ARTISAN.  
“THE PINK PANTHER” introduces the hilarious character of bumbling french Inspector Clouseau.  However, the film spends most of its focus on the main criminal, dashing David Niven as a master thief
responsible for stealing the “PINK PANTHER” diamond. 
The next best film after “RETURN OF THE PINK PANTHER” is “A SHOT IN THE DARK.”  Based on a play and written by Director Black Edwards and William Peter Blatty, this entry focuses on Clouseau.  When a murder has occurred in a wealthy manor, the main suspect is a beautiful maid, played by Elke Sommer.  Falling in love/lust, Clouseau is determined to prove someone else is responsible, and through one
hilarious circumstance after another, he finds the real culprit. Viewers are also introduced to the unforgettable characters of Clouseau’s servant, Cato, as well as Clouseau’s long-suffering Chief
Inspector Dreyfus, increasingly frustrated with the antics/mishaps of Clouseau.
“THE PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN”  has its share side-splitting moments, but unfortunately, it also marks the beginnings of the end of quality in the series.  Dreyfus’ actions are sooo beyond realistic, that the film parodies itself without the wit necessary to pull it off. Thankfully, we do get to see the beautiful Lesley Ann-Downe. 
“REVENGE OF THE PINK PANTHER” would be the worst of the series, if not for even more annoying entries to follow.  Trying to build comedy around a drug smuggling operation just doesn’t work here.  However, Cato’s antics are still funny, and Dyan Cannon along with a sexy dominatrix, help to provide some sexy overtones. Unfortunately, the writing is mediocre at best, and even Sellers’ continually changing costumes fail to provide the intended laughs.
“TRAIL OF THE PINK PANTHER” is nothing more than outtakes from the earlier films, held thinly together via a narrative wherein a reporter(Joanna Lumley) is investigating the great inspector’s past.
MGM has preserved all of the films’  2.35:1 aspect ratio, with 16:9 enhancement.  While imperfect, there is less grain present than on earlier versions. Colors are generally solid, and the image is sharp. Contrast is fine, although darker scenes lack the detail of many superior dvd presentations.
MGM has presented a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix along with the original monaural mix for each film.  While “purists” will appreciate the original mix being present, it’s hard not to be disappointed that the
5.1 lacks most surround involvement. Even the film score is delegated to the front speakers. Dialogue is always intelligible and free from distortion.
MGM has included some extras for “THE PINK PANTHER.”  An audio track with Blake Edwards is offered, and while there are long gaps, Edwards provides some great memories, and it’s worth a listen.There is also a “pop-up” trivia track that’s great fun, and worth revisiting the film for alone!  A bonus disc offers six “Pink Panther” cartoons, a featurette about the animation and a documentary.