Coming Up Shorts! with… The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1

Welcome back for another full post of Coming Up Shorts! This time, I’m going with theatrical shorts starring The Pink Panther, featuring the shorts from 1964 through 1966 that have been released together on disc in The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1.

Here’s a list and quick plot description for each of the cartoons included in this set (for my comments on the individual cartoons, click on the title to go to my previous reviews):

  1. The Pink Phink (1964) (Length: 6 minutes, 47 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther fights with the Little Man over the color scheme of a house being painted.
  2. Pink Pajamas (1964) (Length: 6 minutes, 19 seconds)
    • A tired Pink Panther finds a place to spend the night, only to find the home belongs to an alcoholic Little Man.
  3. We Give Pink Stamps (1965) (Length: 7 minutes, 1 second)
    • The Pink Panther wanders around a closed department store, periodically trying to avoid the Little Man working as a janitor.
  4. Dial “P” For Pink (1965) (Length: 6 minutes, 31 seconds)
    • A klutzy safecracker tries to rob a safe that the Pink Panther has taken up residence in.
  5. Sink Pink (1965) (Length: 6 minutes, 21 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther faces off against a hunter trying to recreate Noah’s ark so he can hunt all the animals.
  6. Pickled Pink (1965) (Length: 6 minutes, 22 seconds)
    • A drunk invites the Pink Panther into his home, but they have to avoid his wife, who threatens to throw any of her husband’s “friends” out of the house.
  7. Pinkfinger (1965) (Length: 6 minutes, 15 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther takes on a ring of spies.
  8. Shocking Pink (1965) (Length: 6 minutes, 43 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther tries to relax, but the narrator keeps pushing him to work on some things around the house.
  9. Pink Ice (1965) (Length: 6 minutes, 17 seconds)
    • The Panther is operating a diamond mine, but a pair of rival miners steal his diamonds.
  10. The Pink Tail Fly (1965) (Length: 6 minutes, 17 seconds)
    • An exhausted Pink Panther tries to get some sleep, but is interrupted by a persistent fly.
  11. Pink Panzer (1965) (Length: 5 minutes, 50 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther and his neighbor are slowly being turned against each other by the narrator.
  12. An Ounce Of Pink (1965) (Length: 6 minutes, 2 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther runs across a coin-operated talking weight and fortune-telling machine, and he buys it to keep with him.
  13. Reel Pink (1965) (Length: 6 minutes, 17 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther buys a group of worms to go fishing, but one of them keeps giving him trouble.
  14. Bully For Pink (1965) (Length: 6 minutes, 2 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther decides to try being an amateur bullfighter, and borrows a magician’s cape to use.
  15. Pink Punch (1966) (Length: 6 minutes, 27 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther has come up with a health drink of his own, and tries to promote it. He is thwarted, however, by an asterisk from one of his signs that turned green and keeps turning everything green.
  16. Pink Pistons (1966) (Length: 6 minutes, 2 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther buys a compact car (with a mind of its own) and ends up in a drag race.
  17. Vitamin Pink (1966) (Length: 6 minutes, 25 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther is selling some pep pills out west, but finds himself stuck as a deputy when he gives some to an escaped convict.
  18. The Pink Blueprint (1966) (Length: 6 minutes, 25 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther competes with the Little Man on a construction site.
  19. Pink, Plunk, Plink (1966) (Length: 6 minutes, 24 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther tries to get himself into the orchestra at a concert, but the conductor keeps throwing him out.
  20. Smile Pretty, Say Pink (1966) (Length: 6 minutes, 9 seconds)
    • The Pink Panther takes on an amateur photographer visiting a national park.

Like I said when discussing The Ant And The Aardvark, Friz Freleng and David H. DePatie formed DePatie-Freleng Enterprises in 1963. They were approached by director Blake Edwards to design a panther character for his then-upcoming film The Pink Panther (1963), which would appear during the opening credits. That initial appearance proved to be quite popular with audiences, and United Artists ordered a series of theatrical cartoons using that character. The first cartoon put together was the 1964 The Pink Phink, which made use of Henry Mancini’s classic “Pink Panther Theme” music, and established the relationship of the Pink Panther and the Little Man. The cartoon would win an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film, the only Oscar win not only for the series, but also for DePatie-Freleng Enterprises.

The Pink Panther cartoons are among the few I can still remember seeing on TV as a child (beyond the Disney, Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry cartoons). This first set was a lot of fun for me, reliving my childhood. Admittedly, the only one that I really remember was the first one, The Pink Phink (and with them using the classic theme song for the entire score of that one, as opposed to just the opening credits on the rest, really helps set it apart). But, there is still some enjoyment to be found here with the rest, as well. I do confess to the idea that these early cartoons are all over the place, as they try to figure out what to do with the character. Most are completely silent, a few have some other characters talking, and two of them (Sink Pink and Pink Ice) even have the Panther speak! There is a good deal of variety within these shorts (even if at least one does seem close to being a remake of an earlier Looney Tunes short)! The Pink Panther is still one cool cat, and I always enjoy coming back to these cartoons, both for the music and the comedy! They aren’t necessarily restored here, but they look pretty good, and that’s good enough for me to recommend them!

The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1 is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Kino Lorber. The whole set has a runtime of two hours, eight minutes.

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… Five Steps To Danger (1957)

Starting off the month of “Noir-vember,” we have the 1957 film Five Steps To Danger, starring Ruth Roman and Sterling Hayden.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Pickled Pink (1965)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1 (1964-1966) from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 6 minutes, 22 seconds)

A drunk invites the Pink Panther into his home, but they have to avoid his wife, who threatens to throw any of her husband’s “friends” out of the house. Not as original a cartoon, with the drunk and his wife having speaking roles. The gags seem a little too familiar, taking away from the fun. Definitely a lesser Pink Panther cartoon, but, considering it was early on, with them still trying to figure out what to do, it can be forgiven.

And Now For The Main Feature…

John Emmett (Sterling Hayden) is on his vacation when his car breaks down. When towed to a garage, he finds out that it will take too long to repair, and sells the car. There, he meets another traveler, Ann Nicholson (Ruth Roman), who offers him a ride if he will help her drive to Santa Fe, to which he agrees. However, at a diner, he meets Helen Bethke (Jeanne Cooper), a nurse who claims that Ann has had a mental breakdown. She says Ann is being encouraged to take a trip by her psychiatrist, Dr. Simmons (Werner Klemperer), and asks John to go with her, which he still agrees to do. The trip becomes more interesting, however, when two sheriffs pull John and Ann over and try to arrest them for a murder in Los Angeles supposedly committed by Ann. They get away, but John becomes suspicious of Ann and her rush to get to Santa Fe. So she tells him she had been sent by a friend of her brother’s to bring some information about guided missiles to an old family friend, Dr. Reinhardt Kissel, and she had discovered he was in Santa Fe. John decides to come along with her anyway, although when they come to a college that they had heard that Dr. Kissel was teaching at, they learn from Dean Brant (Richard Gaines) that he wasn’t there at all! So John takes Ann to a hotel, where he leaves her with Dr. Simmons and her nurse before moving on to the fishing lodge he had a reservation at. However, Dr. Simmons believes Ann needs to be put in a sanitarium, and makes arrangements to do so (although Ann escapes before she can be taken there). Meanwhile, CIA agent Kirk Patrick (Charles Davis) comes to John and tells him that Dr. Kissel is working for them at a nearby government testing facility. After the CIA agent leaves, Ann shows up. Figuring out that they love each other, they decide to get married and then go to the government facility to see Dr. Kissel. However, Ann determines that the man working there as Dr. Kissel is an imposter, and she tells CIA agent Kirk Patrick. But can they catch all the undercover Soviet agents?

I will admit, Five Steps To Danger, which is based on the Donald Hamilton story The Steel Mirror, barely qualifies as noir. It has hints of it, don’t get me wrong, but it also feels like more of a combination of Cold War-era spy thrillers and Gaslight. Admittedly, I wouldn’t say that the gaslighting that goes on here is anywehere near as good as what happens in that classic film, nor is it necessarily that good of a spy thriller. But, I blame that mostly on the script, which wanders around a little too much. I think the actors do a decent job with what they are given, especially Werner Klemperer (and boy, after having seen him for years on the TV series Hogan’s Heroes, it sure feels weird seeing him actually playing a competent, smart character). It’s not the best movie I’ve ever seen, but it has enough good points to it that it is a movie I would recommend giving a try!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2018) with… Five Steps To Danger (1957)

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Classicflix. According to the disc case, this movie was restored from the original camera negative. I will definitely say that this transfer looks pretty darn good! Sure, there are a few specks and dirt here and there, but they are minor at best, and do not take away from an otherwise good-looking release. So for its transfer alone, this is the best way to see the movie!

Film Length: 1 hour, 20 minutes

My Rating: 7/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Great Day In The Morning (1956) – Ruth Roman

Crime Of Passion (1957) – Sterling Hayden