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Trail of the Pink Panther
  • Composed by Henry Mancini
  • Intrada / 2011 / 44:13

Not even the death of Peter Sellers could stop Blake Edwards from making the sixth film in the series that featured the most famous character in both men’s distinguished careers.  Footage cut from the previous films was assembled and a new story (starring David Niven amongst many other big names) fitted around it. Henry Mancini made a very important contribution to this series.  I don’t believe there is a more famous film theme than his for The Pink Panther – it represents a master tunesmith at his very best.  But this must have been a difficult film for the composer to do, having to try to create some cohesion for a film which largely lacked it (for obvious reasons).  The score was never released at the time – the soundtrack from the film instead being a compilation of highlights from all of the composer’s music for the series.

After the five-minute, lighter-than-usual version of the theme which opens it, the first of the score’s two major new themes appears for the first time.  Those two themes (which both get two tracks here, one short and long) are certainly the highlight of this album.  “The Easy Life in Paris” is a charming piece of easy listening – it is not an insult to say that Henry Mancini was a master of light music; “Bruno’s Theme” comes with some humorous Italian flair.  The rest of the album is a bit of a mixed bag of generally very short pieces of comic scoring (some of which are fantastic little vignettes – for instance I love the mock-dramatic “German Invasion”) and generally somewhat disposable source music.  It’s an inconsistent listen, the album – rewarding for Mancini fans to finally have after almost three decades, but despite the highpoints (which are several) it doesn’t hold up as well as his best for the series.  ***

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