Wednesday, March 15, 2006

AN OUNCE OF PINK (1965)

In a recent post regarding the film "Stupidstitious Cat", I railed on about Luck and Superstition and their effect on the minds of the weak and malleable. This, basically, means everyone... including yours truly at times. The twist was, that instead of following the established cliches involving luck, in much the same manner that Calvinball has been a very real approach to game-playing throughout my life, I will create my own superstitions to follow in certain scenarios, though my belief in their effectiveness has never been more than miniscule, if at all. Simply another parlor game...

Such is my belief in random fortunes. Fortune tellers, fortune machines, fortune cookies... all there for the easily impressionable to get their coinage slowly sucked from their pocket, and not in a truly pleasurable way. Fortune cookies are the least intrusive of the lot; you have either already paid for or are about to pay for your Chinese food (or "Food", as my pal Chewy likes to refer to it [this will piss him off to no end!]), and at the end of your meal is a small, quiet biscuit with a not-so-surprise fortune imbedded inside. No come-on, no coersion, and if anybody actually eats Chinese food just to get the fortune at the end, then they have bigger problems than simply being gullible. Lately, Jen has been having fortune cookie trouble. I get fortunes that read "A BOLD AND DASHING ADVENTURE IS IN YOUR FUTURE" and "GOOD OPPORTUNITIES AHEAD SET YOUR MIND TO GRASP THE NEXT"; Jen got saddled with "YOUR JUDGMENT IS A LITTLE OFF AT THIS TIME". Now, some would simply state that this fortune could involve me... but I think she just grabbed the wrong damn cookie.

The Pink Panther doesn't get the wrong damn fortune cookie; instead, in An Ounce of Pink, he gets tangled up with a sassy Fortune Machine. Specifically, a Talking Weight and Fortune Machine. The Panther is strolling along in his normal, calm cigarette-holder fashion, when he hears someone whisper intriguingly low to him. At first, he believes it to be coming from a bluebird perched on a nearby window sill, but it is actually coming from a large scale sitting in front of a storefront. The machine smoothly introduces himself, and Pink can't help but plunge a dime into the fast-talkin' machine. He is told "You weigh 140 pounds, are very gullible, and you spend your money foolishly." Pink is, understandably, insulted and stomps off in a very perturbed manner. But the machine continues, "However, in the very near future, you can expect...", and Pink's attention is drawn back to it, but the machine clicks off in mid-sentence. Pink has no choice but to rock another coin into the slot, and the machine finishes, "...you are going to lose all of your money if you don't stop spending it so unwisely." This riles the cat, but the machine diverts his attention with compliments, and then, he whispers to the cat, "Take me home." He sells slyly his virtues to Pink, who purchases the machine for $24.95, and does indeed take it home.

The cat rests in his chair as if he were hypnotized by the TV, and listens to the scale talk on and on about the weather and baseball scores. The scale constantly refers to the Panther as "140 Pounds", and continues to click off just when that hint of providence is around the corner. The machine mentions that it is a bit warm, and Pink goes to turn on his A.C. unit, but the thing is on the fritz. Pink pounds on it until it falls out the window. Pink goes to grab, but by the time he is back inside, his face is blue and frozen. Pink takes the fortune machine out for walks by pulling the rope on its front; the whole way, the machine spits out nuggets of good fortune involving the Panther, but there is twist in everything that he says. He tells Pink that he will be hit with a large amount of money, and a safe drops onto Pink's head. He tells Pink that he will receive back payment in arrears, and a car runs over his tail, and then a second car runs him over in full. Then, the machine tells Pink that his "future is in the bag". They instantly come across a bag, presumably full of money. Pink considers what occurred before, and ignores the bag entirely. However, as he walks off, a loud cheer is heard, and a man is shown jumping out in great joy and delight at finding Pink's snubbed bag of cash. Lastly, a well-to-do lady with a small dog steps onto the scale, and the machine insults her highly. She tells the dog to sic the Panther, and he is shredded to bits.

The Panther is incredibly angry, and as he pulls the machine along while ignoring its entreaties of personal fortune, the rope snaps on the machine, and it goes flying down a long, steep hill. The Panther catches up to the machine and hops on as they zoom through traffic and then ride and crash through an entire bowling alley, coming out of the brick wall at the end. They end up flying off a pier, but the cat leaps for safety at the last moment as the machine falls into the drink. Of course, being without limbs, the machine cannot swim and begins to sink, yelling for help. "Throw me a line!", it yells, but while the Panther does consider rescuing it, he reconsiders his bad fortune since the "fortune" machine came into his life, and walks off, leaving it to drown. The machine yells out a strangled, "You need me...!", before finally sinking to the bottom. The Panther walks off, relieved that he is rid of the machine that never really gave him any fortune at all... and then gets run over by another car.

Not just the most enjoyable effort yet mixing a character with rampant dialogue with a completely silent Pink Panther, An Ounce of Pink is one of the more enjoyable efforts overall in the Panther series. So many of the previous films seem to be impatient with their thin plots, but sometimes, even with a decent setup, the films would veer off in a less interesting direction. The voice of the weight machine, provided by a perfect Larry Storch with a wise-guy flair, somewhat reminds me of Bruno Kirby from The Freshman. I like the way that the machine is languidly villainous, conning the Panther in and out of good fortune. He toys with the Panther as the Panther probably would with his prey in the wild, and one is never sure if the machine really needs those additional coins to continue gabbing.

As for my own adventures with fortunes, I received one in a cookie the other day that read: YOU HAVE AN OPTIMISTIC FAITH AND CONFIDENCE IN LIFE.

Shows how much the Gods of Fortune and Luck know about me. Boy, have they been bamboozled...

An Ounce of Pink
(DePatie-Freleng, 1965) Dir: Friz Freleng & Hawley Pratt
Cel Bloc Rating:

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