On the verge of release from a psychiatric hospital after years of treatment, former Chief Inspector Dreyfus is driven to an instant relapse by a chance encounter with the innocent cause of his breakdown, Jacques Clouseau.
Dreyfus assembles an international network of top assassins to eliminate his arch-enemy, but his intended victim continues to create mayhem.
Clouseau, meanwhile, dances the tango in a Soho club with a drag queen butler, dons a medieval suit of armour to penetrate the science-fiction nightmare headquarters of the Doomsday machine – a devilish invention of the deranged Dreyfus’ mind – and steps into a Quasimodo outfit complete with helium-inflated hump under the impression that he will then be inconspicuous.
Clouseau’s martial arts battles with his valet Cato (Burt Kwouk) have now advanced to Nunchka, the Okinawan fighting art first displayed to the Western world by Bruce Lee in Enter The Dragon.
Peter Sellers’s hilarious portrayal of the bungling Inspector Clouseau holds together this fourth entry in the series, and Herbert Lom gives another stalwart performance as the long-suffering Dreyfus.
The critics were divided as some thought that Dreyfus’s increasingly desperate attempts to bump off the incompetent Clouseau were a riot of bawdy humour and inspired slapstick, while others considered the film to be a repetitive rehash in which the same gag was worked to death without ever really being funny.
The box-office evidence seems to suggest that the public voted with the “pro” lobby.
Inspector Jacques Clouseau
Chief Inspector Dreyfus
Dr Hugo Fassbender
President Gerald Ford
Secretary of State Kissinger
Dr Zelmo Flek