The inept Inspector Clouseau sets out to unmask a notorious international jewel thief known as The Phantom who is believed to be behind the theft of the priceless Pink Panther diamond from its heavily guarded place in the Lugash National Museum – but anarchy, as ever, follows wherever he goes.
We first see Clouseau – now demoted to a gendarme patrolman for his latest misdemeanour – laboriously explaining to a blind man playing the accordion in the street that begging requires a licence . . . while the bank outside which they are standing is brazenly robbed. Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) now has the chance he has been waiting for and he suspends Clouseau from the police force.
Meanwhile, Sir Charles Litton (Christopher Plummer) floats on a waterbed in the swimming pool at his luxurious villa in the South of France, idly reading the newspapers as his wife Claudine (Catherine Schell) swims nearby. He is furious when he reads of the Phantom’s theft of the Pink Panther – because he is the Phantom, and he didn’t take it. He decides the only way to prove it is to track down the real thief.
Narrowly escaping death from a letter bomb, Clouseau is summoned to Dreyfus’ office. The Lugash authorities have insisted that only Clouseau can recover the Pink Panther as he did once before. Mad with fury at having to reinstate Clouseau as Inspector, Dreyfus tries to shoot him – but the gun is only a cigarette lighter.
Clouseau arrives in Lugash and starts searching the museum for clues at the scene of the crime. He recognises the mark of the Phantom and sets off to the South of France to confront Sir Charles.
In various disguises – first as an employee of a swimming pool company (where failed brakes land him in rather than beside the pool) and then as a telephone engineer – he gains entrance to the Litton villa.
Sir Charles has already left to find the real thief in Lugash and when Clouseau overhears Claudine planning to meet her husband in Gstaad, he dashes off to Switzerland. Further disguised as a cleaner, Clouseau searches Litton’s room for the Pink Panther but does not find it. Later that evening, Clouseau adopts another disguise – as an international playboy – and chats up Claudine in the hotel nightclub, trying to get information from her.
Clouseau’s attempts to woo Claudine with his Bogart-style chat-up lines had Catherine Schell in fits of genuine laughter, which they thankfully kept on screen.
Back in Paris, Dreyfus is going quietly mad. Having accidentally shot off the tip of his nose he decides to finish off Clouseau once and for all. Armed with a sniper rifle, he sets off for Switzerland.
Meanwhile, Sir Charles has realised who the diamond thief really is, and he arrives in Switzerland to demand its return. As Clouseau is trying to arrest the thief and Sir Charles is asking for the diamond, Lugash Secret Service Chief Colonel Sharki (Peter Arne) walks in and surprisingly claims the gem for himself, explaining that he will unfortunately have to kill all three of them.
The deranged Dreyfus takes a pot shot at Clouseau from a room across the street. He misses but kills Colonel Sharki instead. Dreyfus is carted off to an insane asylum while Clouseau – who is credited with recovering the Pink Panther – is promoted to Chief Inspector in his place.
As he dines in a Japanese restaurant with his new assistant, François (André Maranne), Clouseau’s “little yellow friend” Cato (Burt Kwouk) appears disguised as a waiter, still testing his master’s reactions.
With his career flagging, Peter Sellers repeatedly returned to his Inspector Clouseau role, and everyone should be appreciative. This is Blake Edwards and Sellers working together at their best, producing memorable moments of film comedy.
It’s not as good as the first in the series, but still great fun.
Sir Charles Litton
Chief Inspector Dreyfus
Chief of Lugash Police