Based upon the French farce authored by Marcel Achard and adapted to the American stage by Harry Kurnitz, director Blake transforms Peter Sellers’ role from a magistrate, whose activities were limited to judicial chambers, into Inspector Clouseau, where more movement and greater area are possible. ‘Give me 10 men like Clouseau, and I could destroy the world!’ his superior exclaims in despair, summing up the character played by Sellers, sent to investigate a murder in the chateau of a millionaire outside Paris.
When this chief inspector, portrayed by Herbert Lom, attempts to take him off the case, powers above return him to his investigations which revolve about chief suspect Elke Sommer, a French maid, whom the dick is convinced is innocent.
The chores takes him to a nudist camp, a tour of Parisian nightclubs, where dead bodies are left in his wake, and to his apartment, where one of the funniest seduction scenes ever filmed unfolds to the tune of three in a bed and an exploding time bomb. It’s never completely clear whether the detective solves his case in a windup that doesn’t quite come off.
Sometimes the narrative is subordinated to individual bits of business and running gags but Sellers’ skill as a comedian again is demonstrated, and Sommer, in role of the chambermaid who moves all men to amorous thoughts and sometimes murder, is pert and expert. Lom gives punch and humor to star’s often distraught superior, George Sanders lends polish as the millionaire and Graham Stark excels as Sellers’ dead-pan assistant.