During the winter evenings at Chateau de Bois Giraud, you may care to view a DVD, and so I recommend A Shot in the Dark as one of my favourite French-set pictures. Of course, one of the principal cast was from that nation – Peter Sellers hailed from Southsea, George Sanders was Anglo-Russian, Herbert Lom was Czech, and Elke Sommer is German. Most of the film was made in the UK, with the addition of some second unit work in France and the production was backed with American monies. But A Shot in the Dark has music from Henry Mancini – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jjq0WDvapow –  pin-sharp colour cinematography and some splendid French vehicles – a Citroën DS19, a Peugeot 403, a Renault Dauphine – and Seller’s finest outing as Inspector Jacques Clouseau.

The least effective officer in the history of the Sûreté made his debut in  The Pink Panther. The character was original to be played by Peter Ustinov, who eventually proved unavailable. The nominal star of Panther was David Niven – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwA_ar7_qUw – but the time of the film’s release in 1963, it was obvious that Sellers was the principal attraction. The character was incorporated in a big-screen version of the stage play A Shot in the Dark, which entered production later that year.

And why do I love this particular film? Perhaps it is that first shot of the as he practices an array of facial expressions, he deems suitable for his rank and position. Here is a detective who tries to maintain the dignified pose of a figure from a police recruitment film, even when investigating a nudist colony.  There is also a career-best turn from Lom – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIu_CYwemFo – and any picture containing such a sequence is clearly a masterpiece – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uAIbLLSniw. PS And yes, that is Bryan Forbes as the guitar-playing beatnik.