A Shot in the Dark



Funny Pink Panther sequel. Older tweens+.
  • Review Date: May 31, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1964
  • Running Time: 103 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Inspector Clouseau was never such a lust-driven character as he is here, even though his detective instincts turn out to be correct. Aside from Clouseau's low-key assistant Hercule (Graham Stark, an offscreen buddy of Peter Sellers), everyone else seems to be a caricature, stereotype or buffoon.


Numerous murders, all slapsticky and practically bloodless.


Mostly euphemistic or discreet talk, in old-time Hollywood fashion, even making light of a possible rape. Inspector Clouseau attempts to go to bed with comely heroine. Comical revelation of multiple adultery in the household where the murder takes place. A nudist-camp scene of the "Austin Powers" variety, with strategically-placed foliage and props hiding all the danger zones.


No expletives, but one character has a name that sounds exactly like "doo-doo."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Social drinking in a series of night-club settings, leading to one inebriated idyll (and death via poisoned vodka).

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Inspector Clouseau attempts to go to bed with the comely heroine. A possible rape is made light of. There is a comical revelation of multiple adultery in the household where a murder takes place. There are numerous murders, all slapsticky and practically bloodless.

What's the story?

Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers) is called out to a mansion after the nighttime shooting of a chauffeur, which the audience has seen in the pre-credit sequence was a complicated intrigue involved different men skulking around the estate, just avoiding each other. The dead man was the ex-lover (possibly also the rapist) of the mansion's maid Maria (Elke Sommer), who was found holding the gun over his dead body. She claims she didn't kill him and that she can't remember anything about the fatal shot. Clouseau, immediately smitten, defends Maria. Even when other servants turn up slain around her, nothing convinces Clouseau of her guilt. Instead he insists to the increasingly exasperated Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) that Maria is covering up for the real murderer, probably a boyfriend. And the only way for Clouseau to find out the truth is to stay near her. At all times.

Is it any good?


This was the second Pink Panther feature, and the one that set up all the elements that would become familiar: disaster-causing Inspector Clouseau, his wrathful chief Dreyfus, his attack-ready manservant Cato. Clouseau was just a scene-stealing supporting role in The Pink Panther. Here he's in the limelight. Sellers, naturally, is a riot, and Clouseau's blinding crush on Maria provides a stronger motivation for the detective's refusal to indict the maid than just sheer arrogance and stupidity.

Nobody watches Inspector Clouseau movies for the plots, although this one is a bit more story-driven and actor-centered than most of them, and its slapstick had not yet reached the epic-scale stunt proportions of the later movies. In fact, A SHOT IN THE DARK is based on stage play about a foolish judge, which was retro-fitted as a vehicle for the bungling detective character. It's not at all stagey, and the cast is a great display of star power. This may be the most exposure young kids get to British actor George Sanders, here playing Maria's aristocratic employer Ballon. A specialist in playing suave English cads and blackmailers, Sanders' distinctive voice and mannerisms were copied in countless cartoons for decades.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's dated and dark-comedy elements. It might be strange for modern audiences to hear rape, marital infidelity, and multiple murder being lighthearted laugh-getters.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 23, 1964
DVD release date:August 14, 2001
Cast:Herbert Lom, Peter Sellers
Director:Blake Edwards
Run time:103 minutes
MPAA rating:PG

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Parent of a 12 year old Written bycrankylibrarian January 3, 2014

Classic French farce plus inspired physical comedy

The best and funniest of the original Pink Panther series. Steve Martin isn't bad in the remakes, but if you really want to get your brood howling with laughter, show them the Peter Sellers classics. Plenty of sexual innuendo of course, and a dead-on spoof of French sex farces, (note the revolving bedroom doors in the opening scene), not to mention a nudist colony, and frequent references to Elke Sommer's physical assets. Yet there are other cleaner gags: Clouseau's repeated arrests while on stake-out, and the hilarious bit with the parallel bars. Some of the most inspired physical comedy ever. As in all the later Pink Panther's, a word of warning about the bizarre relationship between Clouseau and his "little yellow" Asian "manservant" Cato is in order.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008

I laughed!

Teen, 14 years old Written byDKRUMBLE725 April 5, 2009

Very Good

This movie was hilarious. Aside from some sexual content, this is a great movie for the entire family. I couldn't stop laughing when I watched it.


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