Sunday, March 12, 2006

PINK ICE (1965)

Nine films into the Pink Panther series, not even a full year yet, and they seemingly had already hit rock bottom with Pink Ice. Even worse than Sink Pink, and not coincidentally, the other Panther cartoon with the cat speaking dialogue, Pink Ice takes a potentially hilarious scenario, that of two competing diamond mining operations in South Africa, and then take a circuitious route to avoid being funny in nearly any moment in the cartoon.

The Panther's company is sparring with the De Boors Diamond Mine Company, and the Panther is cleaning their clocks. He starts off the film finding a huge diamond, which he then takes to a vault, which has a lock that operates like a telephone dial. At this point, as the Panther secures his find in the safe, the film holds a lot of promise. Then a hole is opened on the floor, the diamond is stolen, the Panther says to the audience, "Gophers?", and soon we are introduced to the thieves Devereaux and Hoskins. One is a thin, mustachioed toothy fellow; the other is fatter and with something of the voice of Alfred Hitchcock. Both are British, both are set on doing harm to the Panther in return for his fortunes, and both are unamusing to the extreme. They spend most of the film trying to do Pink in, but usually end up shooting each other in the face. They do succeed once in shooting the Panther in the face, and he retaliates with a cannon. The jokes are ill-timed, and truly, hardly actual jokes at all; they are merely bad slapstick.

It is jarring to hear the Panther speak this much, and his voice is already different from the Rex Harrison one-liner he delivered in Sink Pink. He actually only has a handful of lines (read by Rich Little), and it isn't that bad of a thing; it is merely jarring. But it is the bad music-hall dialogue of Devereaux and Hoskins that jars the most, and once again, a Panther film is undone by too much talking and not enough gag set-up. And how, after they steal the Panther's huge diamond, do they manage to shatter it like glass when they fall down? At the end, the Panther is seen rolling a diamond twice his size off in victory from the De Boors camp. Why would they desire the Panther's diamond so much if they had this one easily 20 times its mass in their possession? (Unless they are just unstoppably greedy.) Regardless, the Panther announces that he has "heard that a rolling stone gathers no moss", and uses it as an excuse to keep it moving.

Even if this film were made of diamonds, I would let it stay stationary for a thousand fucking years...

Pink Ice
(DePatie-Freleng, 1965) Dir: Friz Freleng & Hawley Pratt
Cel Bloc Rating: 3

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