Tuesday, March 14, 2006

PINK PANZER (1965)

An inauspicious debut solo directing job in the Panther series for Hawley Pratt (at least, by credit, anyway), Pink Panzer is a brief return for the obnoxious offscreen narrator/tormentor. This time, we find that the Panther is happily embedded in suburbia, with a next-door neighbor named Harry of whom he seems to get along with exceedingly well. That is, he gets along with him until the weaselly narrator arrives to bungle things for the both of them. As Harry mows his lawn, the voice reminds the reclining Pink that the lawnmover Harry is using actually belongs to the Panther, and was borrowed a while ago. After riling Pink up, the voice then goes to work on Harry, putting the bug in his ear that the Panther thinks little of Harry because he has never returned the lawnmower, and is scheming to get it back. Harry gets angry and runs Pink over with the machine, and then smashes it into little pieces before he offers it to the cat. A similar scenario is enacted over a pair of hedge clippers, and then the battle truly begins.

The voice convinces Pink that Harry's tree is intruding over the Panther's property line; accordingly, Pink climbs up into it to cut off the offending branch. However, Harry is already hard at work on sawing one of the rooms on Pink's house, and after Pink finishes with the tree, he watches helplessly as a huge section of his house falls right over. Pink then builds a wall between the now warring abodes, and Harry brings in the weaponry. Placing and then aiming a howitzer at Pink's wall, Harry is surprised to find that Pink has an even larger gun ready to rain down on his ex-good neighbor. Harry, who apparently is either retired from or currently involved in the military at a high level, calls in (in some live-action footage) the entire 48th Armored Division. The voice returns to implore them to begin the destruction by yelling, "Shoot, Dummy!" The voice is then revealed to belong to the devil, who has been playing both sides against each other to start a war.

This set-up would be just fine if there were more than just a couple of good gags in the film. And the horrid-neighbor film (sans devil, of course) was already done pretty well over a decade earlier in Disney's The New Neighbor, with Donald battling Peg Leg Pete (or rather, just plain Pete) in a war of escalation over property lines, as in this film. I do like the devil twist at the end, but even this is played a tad lighter than it could have been. Some good potential is wasted overall, and the film remains a ho-hum affair.

It must be suburbia bringing that effect about...

Pink Panzer
(DePatie-Freleng, 1965) Dir: Friz Freleng & Hawley Pratt
Cel Bloc Rating: 5

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