Son of the Pink Panther (1993) is a continuation of the The Pink Panther film series. Directed by Blake Edwards, it stars Roberto Benigni as Inspector Clouseau's illegitimate son. Also in this film are Panther regulars Herbert Lom, Burt Kwouk and Graham Stark and a star of the original 1963 film, Claudia Cardinale. It was the final film for both writer-director Blake Edwards and composer Henry Mancini; Edwards retired from movie making, and Mancini died the following year. It opened as a box office bomb and got negative reviews from critics who felt the Pink Panther movies had run their course.
Princess Yasmin of Lugash (Debrah Farentino) is abducted in French territorial waters off the coast of Nice by terrorists led by a mercenary named Hans (Robert Davi) in order to force her father to abdicate and allow her disgraced stepmother's lover, a military general with terrorist ties to an unfriendly neighboring kingdom, to claim the throne. Police Commissioner Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) is tasked with solving the case of the kidnapped princess. While investigating her disappearance in the South of France, he has a run-in with the kidnappers, and a local gendarme, named Jacques Gambrelli (Roberto Benigni). Gambrelli opens the trunk of the kidnapper's van and unknowingly spies the Princess who he believes is the driver's sister en route to the hospital.
Hans becomes aware that Gambrelli witnessed the Princess in the back of his van and sends his henchmen to kill Gambrelli as a routine precaution. Dreyfus follows Gambrelli to the hospital where he observes the bumbling Gambrelli's antics with stumbling around as well as getting his bicycle stuck in a wet cement sidewalk outside the hospital. When Hans' henchmen arrive and chase after Gambrelli on his bicycle, Dreyfus intervenes and saves the klutzy policeman. He then takes Gambrelli to his home where he lives with his mother Maria (Claudia Cardinale) whom Dreyfus recognizes as suspect in a murder chase 30 years ago. During the casual encounter with Maria, Dreyfus learns from her Gambrelli is in fact the illegitimate son of the late Inspector Jacques Clouseau. When Hans' men attempt to plant a bomb under the Gambrelli house, it leads to Dreyfus becoming injured instead and sent to the hospital.
While Maria decides to stay beside the injured Dreyfus at the hospital to see him recover, they both reveal Gambrelli's origins to him as the only known offspring of the late Inspector Clouseau. Gambrelli finally decides to set off to rescue Princess Yasmin and prove himself his father's true heir and legacy. Gambrelli recognizes one of Hans' henchmen at the hospital who is inquiring about a doctor for Hans who is injured after Yasmin had attempted to escape. Impersonating a doctor, Gambrelli gains access to Hans hideout and clumsy attempts to treat the injured Hans, who soon sees through Gambrelli's charade and has him locked up with the princess.
Hans decides to move his safe house out of France and to Lugash, and sends his men to kill Gambrelli by placing him in a van and rolling it town a steep road off a cliff, but Gambrelli manages to escape. Seeking help, Gambrelli travels to Paris to look up Clouseau's old friends and soon meets his late father's former manservent Cato Fong (Burt Kwouk) who directs him to Inspector Clouseau's former costumer Professor Auguste Balls (Graham Stark) to assist them with making new disguises for themselves to travel to Lugash to rescue Princess Yasmin. Gambrelli and Cato fly to Lugash where they meet a government agent at a local restaurant to point them the location of Hans' new hideout.
While being followed by the Lugash Army, as well as Cato, Gambrelli ventures to a castle located outside the Lugash capital city where in a climatic gun battle, Gambrelli gains access to the castle with the assistance of the army and after confronting Hans and his henchmen, defeats them, with a little of Cato's help and rescues Princess Yasmin.
After returning to France, Gambrelli is promoted to detective and transfers to Paris' metro police force as a full Police Inspector. He attends the wedding of Maria and Dreyfus whom have gotten engaged during their time together while Dreyfus recuperated at the hospital. During the reception, Dreyfus is uncomfortably shocked when Gambrelli's twin sister Jacqueline Gambrelli (Nicoletta Braschi) appears and who turns out to be just a clumsy and dim-witted as her brother, as Maria tells Dreyfus that she in fact had twins from her one-time tryst with Inspector Clouseau.
The final scene has Inspector Gambrelli attending a ceremony in Lugash attended by King Haroak and Princess Yasmin who award him with a special medal for his rescue of Yasmin which is attended by Maria, Dreyfus, Cato, Prof. Balls and Jacqueline Gambrelli where his clumsy antics disrupt the proceedings just like his father's Inspector Clouseau's antics used to do in previous Pink Panther films. Gambrelli closes the film with the line: "Now, that felt good!"
- Roberto Benigni as Gendarme Jacques Gambrelli
- Claudia Cardinale as Maria
- Burt Kwouk as Cato Fong
- Herbert Lom as Commissioner Charles Dreyfus
- Debrah Farentino as Princess Yasmin
- Dermot Crowley as Sergeant Francios Duval
- Oliver Cotton as King Haroak
- Mark Schneider as Arnon
- Jennifer Edwards as Yussa
- Aharon IpalÃ© as Gen. Jaffar
- Shabana Azmi as Queen
- Anton Rodgers as Police Chief Charles Lazar
- Mike Starr as Hanif
- Kenny Spalding as Garth
- Robert Davi as Hans Zarba
- Graham Stark as Professor Auguste Balls
Note: Claudia Cardinale played the Princess in the original Pink Panther film. Here she returns as Maria Gambrelli, the part originally played by Elke Sommer in A Shot in the Dark.
This was the first Pink Panther film in a decade, following two unsuccessful attempts to continue the series following the death of Peter Sellers, who originated the character of Clouseau. Considered a relaunch of the series, the plan was for Benigniâ"a popular Italian comedian who had yet to be discovered in Americaâ"to continue on where Sellers had left off. Son of the Pink Panther failed to generate critical or commercial success, the loss of Sellers proving once again to be too great. Benigni was not Edwards' first choice for the role. Kevin Kline, Rowan Atkinson, GÃ©rard Depardieu and Tim Curry were all considered before Benigni won the role.
The film's budget of $28 million came partly from MGM (then under Alan Ladd Jnr) and with $13.8 million from Aurielo De Laurentiis' company, Filmauro. Filming started 8 June 1992 and finished 14 months later, taking place in Pinewood Studios and the country of Jordan. The opening Pink Panther sequence cost an estimated $1 million. Before Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Animation established in the same year, the opening Pink Panther sequence is made by Desert Music Pictures.
Perhaps appropriately, this was the final film scored by Henry Mancini (he makes a cameo himself in the opening titles, giving his baton to the Panther who conducts the film's variation of the Theme). The soundtrack album was released by Milan Records.
- The Pink Panther Theme - arranged and performed by Bobby McFerrin (3:10)
- Son of the Pink Panther (1:33)
- The Snatch (2:22)
- God Bless Clouseau - music by Henry Mancini, lyrics by Leslie Bricusse (2:01)
- Samba de Jacques (2:24)
- The Gambrelli Theme (2:23)
- The Bike Chase (1:52)
- The Dreamy Princess (3:58)
- Riot at Omar's (2:40)
- Mama and Dreyfus (1:43)
- Rendez-vous with Cato (1:53)
- The King's Palace (1:47)
- The Showdown (3:31)
- The Pink Panther Theme (tenor sax solo: Phil Todd) (4:18)
Kroyer Films created the opening and closing titles for the film starring the animated Pink Panther and Clouseau Junior characters.
Reception and aftermath
The film received mostly negative reviews from critics. The Radio Times Guide to Films gave the film only 1 star out of 5. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a rating of 6% based on 34 reviews. Roberto Benigni's performance in the film earned him a Razzie Award nomination for Worst New Star.
This was the last Panther film to be directed by Blake Edwards; it was also Edwards' final film. The series was rebooted in 2006 with the release of The Pink Panther starring Steve Martin as Inspector Jacques Clouseau and Kevin Kline (previously considered for the role of Clouseau) as Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus. The Pink Panther 2 saw Kline's Dreyfus replaced by John Cleese.
To date, this is the only Pink Panther movie to be released straight to video in Britain.
- Son of the Pink Panther at the Internet Movie Database
- Son of the Pink Panther at Rotten Tomatoes