Deux clouseauismes

Morning names from early this past week: fondly remembered quotations from Peter Sellars’s Inspector Clouseau character in The Pink Panther (1963) and the series of movies following it. Both involve a bold effort by Clouseau to fix or remedy some situation, resulting of course in devastation — and clueless insouciance on the inspector’s part.

Besides the absurd situations, there’s Sellars’s deft timing and his control of the physical comedy, and, delicious cherry on top: his way-eccentric Clouseau-franglais syntax and phonetics (with pronunciation governed largely by a rigid constraint against back vowels, especially rounded back vowels, though even [ʌ] is affected, as in monkey > minkey). The transcripts below are in standard English orthography, so you should listen to the film clips.

As catchphrases, treasured in my household ever since the movies appeared:

I have fixed your doorbell from the ringing. (used for any attempted repair that has made things substantially worse; now used for upgrades that are also, or only, downgrades from the point of view of performance)

Not any more. (used for destruction of all sorts; the affected item is now completely useless for its intended purpose)

In context: the doorbell. From Return of the Pink Panther (1975):


Clouseau, playing a phone repairman, comes to a country house, where the doorbell is continuously ringing. Having plenty of tools to hand, he methodically dismantles the bell mechanism, snips the wire providing electrical current, rolls the whole business up, and crams it back into its cavity. The owner arrives at the door.

(#2) Clouseau: I have fixed your doorbell from the ringing. There is no charge.

In context: the priceless Steinway. From The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976).


First the text. Clouseau is interrogating the household staff:

Clouseau: A beekeeper who has lost his voice, a cook who thinks he’s a gardener, and a witness to a murder. Oh, yes. It is obvious to my trained eye that there is much more going on here than meets the ear. [A bee buzzes around Clouseau. He swings at it with the hand that is stuck in a steel gauntlet, which is gripping a mace. The mace smashes the piano next to him.] Before you are dismissed, Mr. Stifsticker [Stutterstutt], I suggest you count your bees. You may find that one of them is missing.

Mrs. Leverlilly: You’ve ruined that piano!

Clouseau: What is the price of one piano compared to the terrible crime that’s been committed here.

Mrs. Leverlilly: But that’s a priceless Steinway!

Clouseau: Not anymore!

The clip:

(#4) “Not anymore!”, pronounced à la Clouseau, is both conversationally useful and (in my household anyway) giggle-inducing

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