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Album cover copyright (c) 2006 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. and Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.; review copyright (c) 2006 James Southall



Entertaining Mancini homage comedy score 


Sometimes films come out and you are left scratching your head and asking "why?"  The Pink Panther is one of those films.  If dictionary-compilers the world over want to give an example in their definition of "ill-advised", they couldn't find a much better one than this.  Dreadfully-reviewed (but not that unsuccessful at the box office), the UK distributor decided not to do any screenings for critics - so the newspaper I read instead just asked their LA-based film correspondent to write the review, and he said it was rubbish.  A successful strategy by the distributor, then, since they not only still get bad reviews, but they draw attention to the fact that even they think it's rubbish by not doing screenings.  I feel sorry for Steve Martin.  A genuinely funny man and an extremely talented comic actor (one of the best there is), that his career has been reduced to appearing in the kind of junk he has over the last decade or so is a bit of a travesty really.  Seeing him stepping into the shoes of Peter Sellers (not just one of the best comic actors there was, but maybe the best) is a rather sad experience and, while he pulls it off with about as much dignity as he could possibly do, that still isn't much dignity, let's be honest.  Yes, ill-advised indeed.

Originally signed up to write the score was Christophe Beck, but he was replaced at some stage by David Newman.  Evidently, Newman himself was then replaced (I don't know whose decision that was - if even David Newman thought a film was too bad for him to work on, then that shows something - but maybe it was a simple scheduling conflict) and, bizarrely, Beck returned.  Very strange circumstances.  If it was difficult for Martin to step into the shoes of Sellers, then surely it was equally as difficult for Beck to step into the shoes of the legendary Henry Mancini, for they are big shoes indeed to fill.  Fortunately, Beck has come out of it with all his dignity intact, and fashioned a decent-enough score which is half-way impersonation, half-way original.

There was a bit of speculation in advance about whether Mancini's classic theme would be used - rather pointless speculation if you ask me, since making a Pink Panther film without Mancini's theme would be a bit like making a Pink Panther film without Kato - oh, hang on...  Anyway, few could have predicted quite how much use of Mancini's theme Beck would make - it creeps into virtually all the tracks, and dominates a reasonably high number of them.  Not just that, but there are other tips of the hat to Mancini as well, with the delightful "Helping Nicole Get Off" a good example, as well as some of the frantic comic scoring elsewhere.  I daresay Mancini himself would be pleased with a lighthearted action cue like "Pierre Phouquette".  He might be less pleased with some of the more modern synthetic stylings that creep in occasionally, but these are kept to a minimum and, while they do sound a bit out of place, they aren't all that jarring.

The Mancini theme crops up all over the place, but two full arrangements bookend the album.  For the main title, Beck sandwiches it around some typically Mancini-esque scoring for the animation; and then at the end of the album, is a glorious full performance, highlighted by saxophonist Plas Johnson - who performed it in the first place back in 1963!  (I find that wonderful.)  It also benefits from a first-class recording by Casey Stone.  All in all, this is a very enjoyable score really, a little too frantic to be constantly-satisfying, but almost certainly the best thing to come from 2006's The Pink Panther.  Peter Sellers might be turning in his grave, but I doubt Henry Mancini is.

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  1. Main Titles (3:27)
  2. Perfect Day for a Murder (2:59)
  3. The Damburger Incident (1:27)
  4. Dreyfus in Charge (:56)
  5. Paris Bound (1:25)
  6. The Airport (2:08)
  7. Helping Nicole Get Off (:31)
  8. The Area is Secure (1:37)
  9. Blind Love (:52)
  10. Pierre Phouquette (2:06)
  11. 006 Calling (:55)
  12. Flesh Mask (:41)
  13. Pinch a Finger (1:22)
  14. A Farewell to Ponton (1:34)
  15. Vitamin V (1:38)
  16. Clouseau's Lament (1:07)
  17. Chasing Yuri (1:17)
  18. Waldorf Astoria Arrival (1:10)
  19. The Ring (1:47)
  20. Dragalong Dreyfus (:36)
  21. End Titles (2:46)
  22. Pink Panther Theme (2:41)