In 1963, MGM released The Pink Panther, the first in what would prove to be a long series of films featuring the bumbling Inspector Clouseau. For the title sequence, the studio created an animated cartoon revolving around a “pink panther” (a play on the Pink Panther Diamond seen in the prologue) who is sneaking around and getting into trouble by messing with the credits.
For the theme itself, Mancini (a noted jazz composer in his own right) created a jazz theme to accompany the insane comedy that the film is noted for.
The theme is primarily performed with a group of trumpet, saxophone and trombone and is a favorite of mine because of how quirky the music is (I challenge anyone to listen to this theme and NOT smile, it is impossible). The main theme is something of a “sneaking” that moves by steps and small leaps up the scale until it reaches the top and then “slides” back down again. I believe it’s meant to be reminiscent of the Panther (or the thief in the film) sneaking around and trying not to get caught.
In fact, the theme (and the Pink Panther) became so popular that a cartoon series was created specifically for the character (as well as a comic book series published by Gold Key).
Listen now to the full theme and enjoy the jazzy glory of it all, thanks to Henry Mancini.
Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂