“Give me ten men like Clouseau and I could destroy the world!” rages police commissioner Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) about his blundering French inspector in the second Pink Panther film A Shot in the Dark. What writer/director Blake Edwards should have given this wacky film, however, was a bit more of the pink feline. Where’s the Panther in the film’s animated opening credit sequence? Where is Henry Mancini’s legendary “da-Dum-da-Dum” theme song? And what about the diamond itself? Edwards completely overhauls Harry Kurnitz’s play (with the help of William Peter Blatty, future author of The Exorcist) for this breezy comedy, and despite the absence of the giant cat/jewel, he wisely situates Sellers’ idiotic investigator as the axis around which the film’s slapstick shtick revolves. Sellers is at his buffoonish best while getting his hand caught in a spinning globe (“I’ve got Africa all over my hand!”) and practicing foppish karate chops with his Japanese servant Kato (who constantly barges into Clouseau’s apartment at inopportune moments to attack his employer), and this is the first Panther film to exploit the actor’s gift for impersonations by having him don a number of disguises. Edwards mines repetition as a source for laughs – the repeated sight of Clouseau being mistakenly hauled off to jail, Kato’s surprise assaults, Clouseau’s speeches to his patient, oft-criticized partner Lajoy (Graham Stark) – and the director pulls of a nifty opening shot that details the multiple adulterous liaisons at a wealthy gentleman’s mansion. The negligible plot involves the clumsy detective’s budding love affair with a beautiful maid (Elke Sommer) suspected of murder. Yet despite this central romance, A Shot in the Dark’s real passion emanates from Lom’s commissioner Dreyfus, whose exasperation over Clouseau’s behavior manifests itself in the form of a hilarious eye twitch that gradually seizes control of his face. Dreyfus’ developing insanity – like Clouseau’s moronic antics – more or less function in a story-less vacuum, but the film’s freewheeling, go-for-broke joviality makes this Panther-less sequel perhaps the series’ most effervescent entry.