L'Idiote (The Idiot) is a comic mystery play by Marcel Achard. It was first performed in France under that name at the Theatre Antione.

An English version was staged on Broadway in 1961-62 with the title A Shot in the Dark, adapted by Harry Kurnitz and directed by Harold Clurman. The cast included Julie Harris, Walter Matthau, and William Shatner as an incompetent Examining Magistrate. Matthau's performance earned him a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play.

When adapted to film in 1964, it was extensively rewritten in order to replace the Examining Magistrate (Shatner's role in the Broadway version) with the inept police Inspector Clouseau, played by Peter Sellers, who had earlier originated the character in The Pink Panther.[1]


The plot concerns a free-spirited, guileless and amoral young woman, Josefa (Julie Harris in the original Broadway production), who works as a maid in the home of one of the most prominent and influential families in France. She was discovered in her bedroom, naked and unconscious, with the body of her Spanish lover Miguel across the room and the gun that killed him by her side. As the play begins, she is being brought before the Examining Magistrate to determine if there is enough evidence to take her to trial where, under the French legal system she will be considered guilty unless proven innocent.

The Examining Magistrate, Paul Sevigne (William Shatner), is handling his first case since being promoted to Paris from the provinces. Before the case begins we learn he has an ambitious wife who adores living in Paris; she wants Paul to go along with whatever his bosses want him to do so they don't get sent back to the boondocks. Paul also gets a visit from his boss who advises him to "get a quick confession" and bundle Josefa off to prison to avoid inconveniencing her wealthy banker boss, Benjamin Beaurevers (Walter Matthau). When he interviews Josefa, she tries to confess to the crime, changing her story every time Paul brings up evidence that contradicts her statements. By the end of the first act, Paul realizes Josefa is lying to protect someone else. He confides to his clerk Morestan (Gene Saks) the disastrous news: Josefa is innocent. There is an amusing bit in Act One in which Paul tells Josefa he wants to re-enact the crime "exactly as it happened". Josefa starts taking off her clothes, since she was naked when the shooting occurred, thinking that's what Paul means by "exactly". She is amused by the shocked reaction of Paul and Morestan when they notice her undressing.

The rest of the play involves Paul unraveling the mystery while ruffling the feathers of his superiors, incurring the wrath of his wife, and dealing with Josefa's obstinate attempts to protect her other lover (besides Miguel). Eventually, Paul learns the mystery lover is none other than her employer Beaurevers. A running comic bit involves the fact that Josefa seldom wears underpants and tends to trip over things, exposing her bare derrière; she relates that this is how her affairs with both men began. When Beaurevers learns Paul knows about Josefa not wearing panties he quips, "I must say, your examinations are extremely thorough." Eventually the mystery is solved, the murderer revealed and Paul is considered a hero for fighting for the underdog. Josefa offers Paul her favors for helping her, but he thanks her and declines. The play ends with Paul sending Josefa back out into the world with instructions to find a nice guy and settle down.


  1. ^ Blake Edwards DVD director's commentary, The Pink Panther (1964), MGM Movie Legends DVD release 2007
1837 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1837.

A Shot in the Dark (1964 film)

A Shot in the Dark is a 1964 British-American DeLuxe Color comedy film directed by Blake Edwards in Panavision. It is the second installment in The Pink Panther film series. Peter Sellers is featured again as Inspector Jacques Clouseau of the French Sûreté.

Clouseau's blundering personality is unchanged, but it was in this film that Sellers began to give him the idiosyncratically exaggerated French accent that was to later become a hallmark of the character. The film also marks the first appearances of Herbert Lom as his long-suffering boss, Commissioner Dreyfus, as well as Burt Kwouk as his stalwart man servant Cato and André Maranne as François, all of whom would become series regulars. Elke Sommer portrays the murder suspect, Maria Gambrelli. The character of Gambrelli would return in Son of the Pink Panther (1993), this time played by Claudia Cardinale, who appeared as Princess Dala in The Pink Panther (1963). Graham Stark, who portrays police officer Hercule Lajoy, would reprise this role eighteen years later, in Trail of the Pink Panther (1982).

The film was not originally written to include Clouseau, but was an adaptation of a stage play by Harry Kurnitz adapted from the French play L'Idiote by Marcel Achard. The film was released only a few months after the first Clouseau film, The Pink Panther.

Donald Cook (actor)

Donald Cook (September 26, 1901 – October 1, 1961) was an American stage and film actor who had a prolific career in Pre-Code Hollywood films and on Broadway. Cook is perhaps best known for his film roles in The Public Enemy (1931), Safe in Hell (1931), Baby Face (1933), and Viva Villa! (1934), as well as for his stage role as David Naughton in Claudia, which ran for a total of 722 performances on Broadway between 1941 and 1943. He was also one of the first actors to play Ellery Queen.

Ferdinand Gasse

Ferdinand Gasse (1780 – ca. 1840) was a French violinist and composer.

Born in Naples, Gasse, who was probably related to the architect Louis-Silvestre Gasse, born eight years later in Naples, attended the violin class of Pierre Rode at the Conservatoire de Paris from 1798. He also had lessons with Rodolphe Kreutzer, the dedicatee of Beethoven's famous Kreutzer-Sonata. He also studied harmony with Charles-Simon Catel and musical composition with François-Joseph Gossec.

From 1801 Gasse was violinist at the Paris Opera. In 1805 he received the deuxième Grand Prix de Rome for his cantata Cupidon pleurant Psyché (after a text by Antoine-Vincent Arnault). During his stay in Rome he composed, among others, a double choir Te Deum and a Christe eleison, works which were applauded by Étienne-Nicolas Méhul.

From 1810 to 1812 Gasse stayed in Naples before coming to Paris, where he resumed his activity as violinist at the Grand Opéra after the interruption of his stay in Italy. In the year of his arrival, his opéra bouffe La finta Zingara was premiered here. In 1834 Gasse retired with a pension; his exact date of death is not known. In addition to several other operas, Gasse composed mainly works for the violin.

It is assumed that Gasse was the father of Edme-Hippolyte Gasse. The pupil of François-Joseph Fétis and Henri Montan Berton taught solfège at the Conservatoire de Paris and died early on 11 January 1831.

Igor Ciel

Igor Ciel (April 13, 1931, Rožňava – July 4, 2010, Bratislava) was a Slovakian movie and theatre play director, screenwriter, actor and pedagogue.

Jules-Édouard Alboize de Pujol

Jules-Édouard Alboize de Pujol (1805, Montpellier – 9 April 1854, Paris) was a French historian and playwright. Director of the Théâtre de l'Atelier in Montmartre, Alboize Pujol wrote several dramas and comedies, either alone or in collaboration.

Katalin Ladik

Katalin Ladik (born Novi Sad, October 25, 1942) is a Hungarian poet, performance artist and actress. She was born in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia (now called Serbia) and in the last 20 years she has lived and worked alternately in Novi Sad, Serbia, in Budapest, Hungary and on the island of Hvar, Croatia. Parallel to her written poems she also creates sound poems and visual poems, performance art, writes and performs experimental music and audio plays. She is also a performer and an experimental artist (happenings, mail art, experimental theatrical plays). She explores language through visual and vocal expressions, as well as movement and gestures. Her work includes collages, photography, records, performances and happenings in both urban and natural environments.

Marcel Achard

Marcel Achard (5 July 1899 – 4 September 1974) was a French playwright and screenwriter whose popular sentimental comedies maintained his position as a highly recognizable name in his country's theatrical and literary circles for five decades. He was elected to the Académie française in 1959.

Peter Sellers

Peter Sellers, CBE (born Richard Henry Sellers; 8 September 1925 – 24 July 1980) was an English film actor, comedian and singer. He performed in the BBC Radio comedy series The Goon Show, featured on a number of hit comic songs and became known to a worldwide audience through his many film characterisations, among them Chief Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther series of films.

Born in Portsmouth, Sellers made his stage debut at the Kings Theatre, Southsea, when he was two weeks old. He began accompanying his parents in a variety act that toured the provincial theatres. He first worked as a drummer and toured around England as a member of the Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA). He developed his mimicry and improvisational skills during a spell in Ralph Reader's wartime Gang Show entertainment troupe, which toured Britain and the Far East. After the war, Sellers made his radio debut in ShowTime, and eventually became a regular performer on various BBC radio shows. During the early 1950s, Sellers, along with Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe and Michael Bentine, took part in the successful radio series The Goon Show, which ended in 1960.

Sellers began his film career during the 1950s. Although the bulk of his work was comedic, often parodying characters of authority such as military officers or policemen, he also performed in other film genres and roles. Films demonstrating his artistic range include I'm All Right Jack (1959), Stanley Kubrick's Lolita (1962) and Dr. Strangelove (1964), What's New, Pussycat? (1965), Casino Royale (1967), The Party (1968), Being There (1979) and five films of the Pink Panther series (1963–78). Sellers's versatility enabled him to portray a wide range of comic characters using different accents and guises, and he would often assume multiple roles within the same film, frequently with contrasting temperaments and styles. Satire and black humour were major features of many of his films, and his performances had a strong influence on a number of later comedians. Sellers was nominated three times for an Academy Award, twice for the Academy Award for Best Actor, for his performances in Dr. Strangelove and Being There, and once for the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film for The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film (1959). He won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role twice, for I'm All Right Jack and for the original Pink Panther film, The Pink Panther (1963) and was nominated as Best Actor three times. In 1980 he won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for his role in Being There, and was previously nominated three times in the same category. Turner Classic Movies calls Sellers "one of the most accomplished comic actors of the late 20th century".In his personal life, Sellers struggled with depression and insecurities. An enigmatic figure, he often claimed to have no identity outside the roles that he played. His behaviour was often erratic and compulsive, and he frequently clashed with his directors and co-stars, especially in the mid-1970s when his physical and mental health, together with his alcohol and drug problems, were at their worst. Sellers was married four times, and had three children from his first two marriages. He died as a result of a heart attack in 1980, aged 54. English filmmakers the Boulting brothers described Sellers as "the greatest comic genius this country has produced since Charles Chaplin".

Princeton Summer Theater

Princeton Summer Theater was founded in 1968 by a group of Princeton University undergraduates under the name 'Summer Intime' as a high grade summer stock theater company.

Théodore Nézel

Théodore Nézel (25 February 1799 – 23 May 1854) was a 19th-century French playwright and librettist.

An employee at the ministry of public instruction, he was appointed managing director of the Théâtre du Panthéon in 1838. His plays, often signed "Théodore" or "Théodore N." were presented on the most important Parisian stages of the 19th century including the Théâtre de l'Ambigu, the Théâtre des Nouveautés, the Théâtre du Palais-Royal, and the Théâtre des Variétés.

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