Inspector Clouseau (1968)

Film and Plot Synopsis

As a gang of robbers commit crimes across Europe, the Prime Minister of England calls upon the French Inspector Jacques Clouseau to stop them. When the gang makes a series of masks based on the Inspector’s face, they commit further crimes in his name, and France’s top investigator finds himself under arrest.

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‘Inspector Clouseau’ Movie Summary

The summary below contains spoilers.
Inspector Clouseau (1968)The film begins with the press hounding Commissioner Sir Charles Braithwaite (Patrick Cargill) of Scotland Yard about an ongoing robbery investigation they can not solve. Now, England’s Prime Minister is bringing in an outsider to assist which the press considers a slap in the face.

We cut to a torrential downpour at London’s Heathrow Airport where we see the French Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Alan Arkin) arrive. Some British agents greet him inside to take him to headquarters, but he insists on going through customs as to not attract attention to himself. He winds up attracting attention to himself.

Later at headquarters, Sir Charles meets with Clouseau who informs him of what little specifics they have on the gang. They had three men in custody, but two of them Frenchie LeBec (Tutte Lemkow) and Steven Frey (Michael Ripper) escaped. The one remaining crook is named Addison Steele (Barry Foster). Clouseau says perhaps he should question that Mr. Steele, and before he can leave, Sir Charles warns Clouseau not trust anyone in the investigation; even those at Scotland Yard. It seems there’s a mole among their ranks.

At the prison, Steele works as a barber. Steele asks him to wait until he’s done with his current inmate. However, that inmate is actually the warden’s son named Clyde Hargreaves (Clive Francis) who reveals to Steele who Clouseau really is. After he leaves, Steele offers the Inspector a shave. Clouseau agrees to one, and questions Steele from the barber chair. Steele claims to not know who the gang’s mastermind is, but only knows him by the name of Johnny Rainbow. He places a hot towel over the Inspector’s face, and then dumps some chloroform on it. Once Clouseau is out cold, Steele escapes the prison through a hidden passage in the barbershop.

Back at Scotland Yard, Superintendent Weaver (Frank Finlay) gives Clouseau some James Bond-esque gadgets to help him in his investigation: a cigarette lighter that shoots a high-powered laser; a cigarette case that’s a player / recorder; a belt buckle that shoots three deadly missiles from it at a time; and some long underwear that inflates like a life jacket if you’re thrown into the sea. Clouseau’s bumbling ways irritates Weaver tremendously, but when he offhandedly mentions that Clouseau is just like his wife and the two should meet, Clouseau invites himself over for dinner later that night.

That night, when Clouseau arrive’s to Weaver’s house, we see Frenchie LeBec and Steven Frey spying on him from a car in the street. At the door, Weaver’s lovely maid, Lisa Morell (Delia Boccardo) answers the door. She seems smitten with the Inspector and wants to see him alone later in the evening

Weaver comes to the door to interrupt their quaint meeting. He introduces the Inspector to Mrs. Weaver (Beryl Reid), a Scottish lass, whose charms repulse both men. Instead of a quiet evening, Mrs. Weaver drags them to opening night of the Edinburgh International Festival. Frenchie is there looking to kill Clouseau. However, Clouseau gets exceedingly drunk and after winning a pudding cake, he accidentally sets off his missile belt; killing Frenchie as he’s about to kill Clouseau. On Frenchie’s right wrist is a tattoo marking a Johnny Rainbow gang member—a snake wrapped around a sword in front of a heart with “Mother” tattooed on the snake.

Back at the Weaver house, Mrs. Weaver tries to seduce Clouseau who’s clutching his newly-won pudding cake—something he’s very proud of. Lisa has to run off before telling him what she wants to tell him; leaving the Inspector alone with Mrs. Weaver while her husband is off somewhere else. However, an officer arrives to take Clouseau downtown to a gentlemen’s club of some sort to meet with Sir Charles.

Sir Charles is annoyed that Clouseau killed Frenchie without getting any information out of him and for also revealing his true identity to the general public. After one of Clouseau’s gadgets goes haywire, he flees the club in a hurry before Sir Charles can throw him out; leaving his pudding cake behind.

The next day, while eating some sort of brunch with British investigators Shockley (Richard Pearson) and Carmichael (Susan Engel), Clouseau uses mind-bending logic to deduce the robbers will next try to kill him using something he loves. Since he loves food more than anything else, he claims the gang will poison his food—which can mean only one thing—those a-holes did something to his pudding cake.

Clouseau immediately rushes back to Sir Charles’ gentlemen’s club with a small team of men from Scotland Yard, along with Shockley, Weaver, and Sir Charles to turn that club upside down. He finds the cake may or may not have a cyanide capsule in it after deducing it’s not a bomb. He does get a clue—Weaver reveals a matchbook from a nearby inn called Tudor Arms was taken off Frenchie’s body. Clouseau rushes off to the inn to look for more clues.

That night, before he arrives, he meets a beautiful brunette woman named Meg (Katya Wyeth) stranded on the side of the road. She needs to use the phone to call for help, and as it turns out, the nearest phone is at Tudor Arms. It’s kismet, and Clouseau gives her a ride. It also turns out that her “Uncle” (Arthur Lovegrove) runs the inn. Uncle does what any family man would do in this situation; he gives Meg and this man she just met a room for the night . Once there, Meg seduces Clouseau, and then gets him to let her take pictures of him for posterity.

Minutes later, Clouseau is in the bathroom, and has just finished taking a shower. However, when he walks back into the room, Meg is gone! In her place is a beautiful blond woman named Julie (Tracey Crisp). She seduces him as well. When he’s good and relaxed, she puts a cloth over Clouseau’s face, and then dumps some chloroform on it. Once Clouseau is out cold, Meg and the Uncle return, and pour rubber over his face to make a mold of it. It dries quickly, and they now have everything they need to impersonate the Inspector.

However, Clouseau unexpectedly wakes up as they take the mold off his face. Uncle quickly hides under he bed, and Clouseau wakes to find two women in the bed. They seduce him together, but as he jumps on the bed, it breaks; killing Uncle below. His arm flops out to reveal a Johnny Rainbow tattoo.

The next morning at Sir Charles’ office, he, Weaver, and Shockley discuss the Inspector and his methods. Sir Charles call him an idiot. Weaver suggests that they send Clouseau to Frenchie’s funeral in France to see if he can find some clues. They agree.

At the funeral, Clouseau does nothing but attract attention to himself, and Johnny Rainbow’s gang spots him and takes chase. Luckily for him, Weaver’s maid, Lisa shows up and rescues him. She reveals she’s actually a member of Interpol there to help him. Clouseau doesn’t believe her, and arrests her. At the station, Préfet de Police Geffrion (David Bauer), who turns out to be one of Clouseau’s superiors, confirms she is who she says and orders him to release her.

The two then head out to where Lisa thinks Johnny Rainbow’s men are hiding so they may spy on them. She gives Clouseau a listening device attached to the end of an arrow. He climbs a pole and shoots the arrow at the men’s upstairs hideout. Unbeknownst to Clouseau, the arrow goes in one window and out the other into a neighbor’s TV. The western on it has men talking about a bank robbery. Thinking it’s real, Clouseau mistakenly reports the fiction robbery to Lisa.

Meanwhile inside the hideout, Johnny Rainbow show up to finally reveal himself to the men. It’s none other than the Warden’s son, Clyde Hargreaves. He’s got a bunch of rubber masks that look like Clouseau and a devious plan to simultaneously rob 13 Swiss banks with his goons wearing the masks. He says Clouseau will take the blame for the robberies, but really, how can one man be in 13 different places at once. That plan is weak!

Clouseau and Lisa return to the French police station to report his findings, but Geffrion doesn’t believe Clouseau’s ramblings for one moment. He has his men toss the Inspector out of the station where Lisa is waiting outside. They drive off to return to the hideout so Clouseau can look for more clues. However, two of Rainbow’s men, Bomber LeBec (Anthony Ainley) and Stockton (Robert Russell) follow them. Clouseau parks the car and gets out. The two goons follow him on foot through some back streets of the town.

Clouseau accidentally knocks out Bomber as he tries to attack the Inspector from behind first. Stockton then appears and karate chops Clouseau out cold. Weaver appears with a gun, and knocks Stockton out cold. He picks up the unconscious Clouseau and activates his missile belt; killing the two goons. He slips a train ticket from Le Havre, France to Zurich, Switzerland in Clouseau’s pocket and walks away.

The next day, Clouseau boards the train to Zurich. To his surprise, Weaver is onboard. In Clouseau’s train car, he and Weaver play a few games of Jacks. When the train passes through a tunnel, Weaver tries to shoot Clouseau, but he misses in the dark because he reached down to pick the Jack ball up off the floor. Annoyed, Weaver grabs the Inspector and throws him off the train to kill him. Luckily for Clouseau, he winds up on a mail hook like a French catcher pouch. Weaver then puts on one of the rubber Clouseau masks, revealing himself to be Scotland Yard’s mole and a member of Johnny Rainbow’s gang.

When Weaver arrives in Zurich (impersonating the Inspector), the Director of National Security named Hoeffler (Wallas Eaton), greets him at the train station. Lisa is there and warns Clouseau about Weaver possibly being one of the gang; not knowing it’s the fake Clouseau. Weaver has one of his goons at the train station kidnap her. Hoeffler takes the fake Clouseau to a waiting car before he gets into his own, and they both head over to the bank. The fake Clouseau’s driver is actually Johnny Rainbow, and on the way to the that bank, the two men switch clothes so Johnny Rainbow is now fake Clouseau.

At the bank, the Minister of Finance has summoned the 13 heads of the Switzerland’s banks to meet with Inspector Clouseau. Fake Clouseau tells the men of a robbery happening tomorrow (Saturday). He says he doesn’t know which bank will be robbed, but tells them that he will show up at the unlucky bank and personally supervise the transfer of funds so the bank can’t be robbed. He introduces them to Mr. Weaver of Scotland Yard who tells them to only follow his and the Inspector’s instructions.

We switch to a small town outside of Zurich where the real Clouseau is stranded, but he has no money to call London for help (apparently the police would not receive a collect call from him). Meanwhile at Johnny Rainbow’s Zurich hideout, he has 13 fake armored vans, and they begin to roll out to their respective banks. Each fake Clouseau orders the bank presidents to put all their funds into the waiting armored cars outside for safekeeping.

As this goes on, the real Clouseau shows up at one of the banks to cash a check so he can make a telephone call (still no collect calls to London allowed). That bank’s president finds something amiss, and has his guards detain the real Clouseau.

Meanwhile, back at the hideout, the fake armored vans switch the stolen money into fake Lindt & Sprüngli vans. They take the money to one of Lindt’s chocolate factories and package the stolen money like chocolate bars. A messenger at Lindt’s named Gutch (Geoffrey Bayldon) steals one of the bars of money before being shooed off. The rest of Rainbow’s men place the bars in shipping boxes before taking them to a waiting barge on the Limmat River.

By now, all the newspapers are reporting the real Clouseau as the sole thief of the 13 simultaneous robberies—still not sure their logic behind that. For some reason, Gutch is now in Hoeffler’s Zurich office and he demands Gutch empty his pockets. He has the real Clouseau enter the office (under arrest), and Gutch says he knows Clouseau. Hoeffler berates Clouseau for being a bad cop. Clouseau now has Gutch’s chocolate bar of money (not knowing what it really is) and waves it around as Weaver walks into the room. A now agitated Clouseau tries to tell Hoeffler that Weaver threw him off the train. Weaver grabs the fake bar out of Clouseau’s hand as he knows it has money in it.

Clouseau continues on his rant and Weaver gets nervous. He starts to walk out of the room as Clouseau tries to stop him. Gutch grabs the chocolate bar to reveal the money inside. Weaver runs off, and Hoeffler takes chase with some of his men, but they can not find him. That is because Weaver has already put on his fake Clouseau mask and returned to Hoeffler’s office where Gutch and the real Clouseau are still at. A struggle of the two Inspectors ensues, and Gutch hits the fake one over the head; killing him. Hoeffler and his men return to the room where they take off the mask to reveal Weaver was impersonating Clouseau. The jig is up!

By now, the Johnny Rainbow, his barge, and remaining men are happily chugging down the river with Lisa as a hostage in a room below deck. Redeemed, the real Clouseau tells the press that the money is hidden in Lindt chocolate bars which sets off a Willy Wonka like frenzy in the country.

Clouseau then happens upon Addison Steele in town, and a car chase ensues through Zurich. However, Steele’s car is also a boat and when Clouseau chases him into the river, his car immediately sinks. Luckily for him, he’s wearing that inflatable underwear from Weaver’s office at the beginning of the film. Steele throws Clouseau a line and begins dragging him in the river. Eventually they make it to the barge where Rainbow’s men nab him.

They throw him in the room hold below with Lisa. With no plans for escape, a dejected Clouseau prepares to die. However, Lisa encourages him not to give up, and he gets an idea. That night, as Rainbow’s men order the two on deck, Clouseau turns on his laser lighter and points it at the ship’s hull on their way out. It burns a large hole through the barge’s side and it begins to sink. Once Rainbow’s men realize the ship is doomed, they jump off it like rats. Rainbow escapes in Steele’s boat/car, leaving Clouseau and Lisa floating alone on one of the remaining crates. Clouseau’s cigarette holder/recorder plays from his pocket, attracting a ship to save them.

The next day, Clouseau says his goodbyes to a thankful but resentful Sir Charles and to Lisa who’s in love with him. He boards a plane home only to find the now widowed Mrs. Weaver on the seat next to him. Rather than allowing that Scottish lass to seduce him during the course of the flight, he parachutes off the plane for a happy ending…no word on if the police ever caught Johnny Rainbow and his gang.

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United Artists released Inspector Clouseau on May 28, 1968. Bud Yorkin directed the film starring Alan Arkin, Frank Finlay, and Delia Boccardo.

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