A Shot in the Dark

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
A Shot in the Dark Movie Poster Image
Funny Pink Panther sequel. Older tweens+.
  • PG
  • 1964
  • 103 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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.

Violence

Numerous murders, all slapsticky and practically bloodless.

Sex

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.

Language

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

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
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 lau... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008
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.

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?

Sellers, naturally, is a riot. 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. 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.

Talk to your kids 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

For kids who love comedies

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate