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Clues to Clouseau

Today’s great detective first came to life on the silver screen, but his character pays homage to some of his famous literary predecessors. Inspector Jacques Clouseau of the French Sûreté tackles his cases with the same confidence and ego as the Belgian detective Poirot, but succeeds more through sheer luck than any real competence. However, Clouseau is not just another imitator. When not wearing one of his hilariously elaborate disguises, he is instantly recognisable in his signature Trilby hat and trench coat, proving once again that the wardrobe plays a crucial role in fleshing out the screen character.

Clouseau’s moustache is not actually Poirot’s, but was modelled by actor Peter Sellars on a matchbox trademark that featured Capt. Matthew Webb, who was the first to swim the English Channel, in 1875. Peter Sellars went to great lengths to emulate Webb's physique, even resorting to a year of diet pills in an attempt to match his athletic build.

But Clouseau's partially inherited quirks don't end there. He shares Sherlock Holmes’ passion for the violin, but unfortunately not his musical talent. Holmes’ iconic pipe also makes a spectacular cameo appearance in Trail of the Pink Panther. These hilarious scenes came out of the shared vision of director Blake Edwards and actor Peter Sellars that “comedy should be painful”.


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