DirectorGerry Chiniquy, George Singer, Robert McKimson (produced by David H. DePatie and Friz Freleng)
Release Date(s)1965-69 (April 26, 2016)
Studio(s)DePatie-Freleng Enterprises/Mirisch Films/MGM/20th Century Fox (Kino Lorber)
- Film/Program Grade: A
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: B
A spin-off of The Pink Panther, featuring a character that first appeared in the title sequence of Blake Edwards’ A Shot in the Dark (1964)—and loosely based upon Peter Sellers’ Inspector Jacques Clouseau in that film—DePatie-Freleng’s animated The Inspector tracks the misadventures of a crack French police detective and his faithful assistant, Sergeant Deux-Deux, as they attempt to solve crimes and apprehend the land’s most wanted criminals. Unfortunately, while the Inspector is ever able, he’s also prone to misfortune and his boss, the Commissioner, is always breathing down his neck.
Actor Pat Harrington, Jr. (better known to TV audiences as handyman Dwayne Schneider on One Day at a Time), provided the voices for both the Inspector and Deux-Deux, with Paul Frees (Boris Badenov from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show) giving voice to the Commissioner (at least originally). What’s most remarkable about the series is its unique hand-drawn animation style and dark yet gorgeous backgrounds, which combine to realize a colorful noirish look for the series. The backgrounds especially recall the look of the old Fleischer Studios Superman shorts in some respects. What’s more, the show’s rogue’s gallery of villains—including the Matzoriley Brothers, Captain Clamity, and the Blotch—have a comic Batman-esque quality. All of this is in service of stories with a familar yet sophisticated slap-stick bent and a theme by the great Henry Mancini.
Kino Lorber has released all 34 of these iconic shorts in 1080p HD on Blu-ray in their original 1.33:1 theatrical aspect ratio (the shorts were in fact produced for theatrical exhibition, but later appeared on TV as part of NBC’s The Pink Panther Show with canned laugh tracks added). The shorts have been scanned from the original camera negatives and the resulting image is lovely indeed—certainly this animation has never looked better. Colors are vibrant and accurate, with light photochemical grain intact, and only minor film-related artifacts visible (dust on the animation cels, the occasional spot or scratch on the negative, etc). Audio is present in the original English 2.0 mono in lossless DTS-HD Master Audio format (and without the laugh tracks). The soundstage is front-and-center, as you’d expect, but fidelity and tonal quality are quite good. Dialogue is clean at all times. Overall, this a fine presentation of classic 1960s animation. Really, the only drawback is the lack of English subtitles for those who might need them.
Kino’s Blu-ray release is a 2-disc set, organized as follows:
- The Great De Gaulle Stone Operation
- Reaux, Reaux, Reaux Your Boat
- Napoleon Blown-Aparte
- Cirrhosis of the Louvre
- Plastered in Paris
- Cock-a-Doodle Deux Deux
- Ape Suzette
- The Pique Poquette of Paris
- Sicque! Sicque! Sicque!
- That's No Lady—That's Notre Dame!
- Unsafe and Seine
- Toulouse La Trick
- Sacré Bleu Cross
- Le Quiet Squad
- Bomb Voyage
- Le Pig-Al Patrol
- Le Bowser Bagger
- Le Escape Goat
- Le Cop on Le Rocks
- Crow De Guerre
- Canadian Can-Can
- Tour de Farce
- The Shooting of Caribou Lou
- London Derriere
- Les Miserobots
- Transylvania Mania
- Bear De Guerre
- Cherche Le Phantom
- Le Great Dane Robbery
- Le Ball and Chain Gang
- La Feet's Defeat
- French Freud
- Pierre and Cottage Cheese
- Carte Blanched
Each short runs 5 to 6 minutes in length. But really, what’s most surprising here is that while MGM’s 2009 Pink Panther and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection DVD box set had no special features dedicated to this particular series, Kino has actually created some great new ones just for this release. Among them are:
- Goodbye, Warner Bros, Hello DePatie-Freleng (HD – 16x9 – 16:59)
- Of Aardvarks, Ants, Inspectors, and Cranes (HD – 16x9 – 17:10)
- The Great De Gaulle Stone Operation audio commentary with Greg Ford and Friz Freleng (via archival audio)
- Cirrhosis of the Louvre audio commentary with Mark Arnold
- Cock-a-Doodle Deux Deux audio commentary with Jerry Beck
- Sicque! Sicque! Sicque! audio commentary with Mark Arnold
- Canadian Can-Can audio commentary with Glen Ford
- Carte Blanched audio commentary with Glen Ford
Produced by Glen Ford, the two featurettes include new interviews with animation historian Jerry Beck, along with Barbara Donatelli, Will Friedwald, Doug Goodwin, Art Leonardi, and Joe Siracusa, as well as archival audio of Fritz Freleng. You also get to see lots of vintage photographs of the original animation team, as the origin story of DePatie-Freleng Enterprises is told and special attention is given to the Inspector and other characters. Meanwhile, the commentaries provide a few nice anecdotes per short (remember, they’re only 5-6 minutes long each). Finally the keep case packaging features reversible cover art—a nice touch.
For fans of classic animation—and of the works of DePatie-Freleng in particular—Kino’s The Inspector Blu-ray release is a gem. And it’s only one of a series of similar releases the indie studio has branded as The DePatie-Freleng Collection. The good news is, that collection is finally complete on the format (and we’ll be reviewing each title therein here at The Bits in the days and weeks ahead). So don’t miss them—either the reviews or the Blu-rays. Recommended for fans of classic animation.
- Bill Hunt