Monday, March 13, 2006

THE PINK TAIL FLY (1965)

A return to blessed silence, except for a constant but amusing buzzing, The Pink Tail Fly is a slight return to form (possibly) for the Pink Panther. There is at last decent nemesis for the cat, the jokes are generally well set-up, and there is more logic in its action than the last four films put together. It is still only a mildly decent effort, but after the missteps of the aforementioned quartet, it is a genuine slice of comic heaven in comparison.

Pink is slumped in front of his TV on a rainy night watching "The Late Late Late Late Late Show", which consists of live-action movie footage of an endless array of monotonous cowboy-and-indian battles and the like, which is the chief determining factor telling the Panther that it is time to go to bed. Changing into his pink pajamas, he hits the hay, only to find his ticking clock keeping him awake. He begins counting sheep, and finally drifts off into a snoring satisfaction, but the sheep keep accumulating in his head, and finally unleash a round of loud "BAA's", which jostle Pink from his slumber. He tries to lie back down, but one of the sheep has escaped his dreamcloud and hidden behind his pillow. He shoos the critter away and then settles back into bed. Within seconds, he is back to sleep.

Enter the mosquito. (I know the film is called The Pink Tail Fly, but by appearance and behavior, having come from Alaska, this is a mosquito.) He buzzes about playfully, and Pink wakes again. He smacks the mosquito between the palms of his hands, then takes him to the door and kicks him out of the house. There is then a knock at the door, Pink opens it foolishly, and the mosquito flies back in. This time, Pink chases the bug with a flyswatter and scares him out the door. Pink goes back to bed, but the mosquito buzzes back in through the keyhole. He zooms straight at the sleeping Panther, but at the last second, Pink holds up a board, and the mosquito runs headfirst into it and knocked for a loop. Pink lies back down, but the mosquito, with ant-like strength, picks up a screwdriver and undoes the screws in the ceiling lamp over Pink's bed. After the obligatory smashing of his skull, Pink swats the mosquito and kicks him out again, placing a cork in the keyhole for good measure.

There is then the ringing of the phone, and Pink again foolishly answers it. The mosquito flies out of the receiver and back into the fray. Pink uses a Flitgun full of pesticide to subdue the creature, but the mosquito turns on a fan and blows the cloud into the face of the Panther, who begins choking and hits the floor unconscious. We then discover the mosquito's true intentions: to sit in the comfy easychair and watch late night TV on the rainy, rainy night. He turns on the box and begins watching the movies. Furious, the Panther revives himself and turns off the TV. On and off, on and off; the battle over the remote goes for a bit, until the Panther manages to snag the critter and toss him out again. The mosquito smashes a hole in the window and buzzes back in. The Panther is ready for him, as he has changed into his karategi and ready to put a chop down on the bug. But the bug has other ideas, and flips the Panther a couple of times, and then bends his arm up behind his back, and then throws the cat out into the rain. The mosquito goes back to watching TV, as the Panther sadly and wetly taps on the glass of the window.

This is precisely the sort of cartoon that they should have continued making after the first film: no dialogue, well-built and placed setups for the running jokes, and a charming nemesis for the Panther. True, the Panther does not come out on top, but he is bigger and a bit of a bully through much of the film. Having done similar battle with numerous mosquitos in my life (and usually over a little something called my life blood, not a television), his reaction is understandable, but I like the way that the film ends with the bug taking over the Panther's creature comforts.

As for the film itself, after the debacles that preceded it, I settle into it like a comfy, warm chair. Only, I am not changing the channel.

The Pink Tail Fly
(DePatie-Freleng, 1965) Dir: Friz Freleng & Hawley Pratt
Cel Bloc Rating: 6

1 comment:

gawd0r said...

I think this is by far the best Pink Panther film, and one of my all time favorite movies. I have this one on 8mm reel! :)