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Chief Inspector Charles LaRousse Dreyfus is a major antagonist in Blake Edwards The Pink Panther film franchise, in which he made his first appearance in the second installment The Pink Panther: A Shot in The Dark (1963). He is the emotionally unstable and murderous boss of the series' protagonist Jacques Clouseau, who reduces Dreyfus to a murderous wreck resulting in Dreyfus trying to kill him on multiple occasions. Although being a supporting antagonist in most of the films, he becomes the main antagonist in the fifth film The Pink Panther Strikes Again.
The late actor Herbert Lom portrayed the character in the original Blake Edwards films. Kevin Kline plays the role in the 2006 remake, with John Cleese then taking over in the 2009 sequel.
The Pink Panther: A Shot in The Dark (1963)
When Jacques Clouseau investigates a murder, Charles Dreyfus isn't convinced he is up to the job due to his stupidity and tries to have him thrown off the case, but to no avail. Despite Clouseau's clear incompetence and the body count piling up, Dreyfus secretly attempts to kill him on several occasions, only to end up killing innocent bystanders in the process. When Clouseau heads to the manor where the original killing took place in order to "expose" the killers, Dreyfus follows him there and rigs Clouseau's car with a bomb. But the multiple suspects involved in the murder attempt to flee the crime scene and end up stealing the car. Despite Dreyfus trying to warn them, they speed off and the car explodes, much to Dreyfus' dismay. In a rage, Dreyfus begins to attack Clouseau and has to be dragged off.
The Pink Panther Returns (1975)
Dreyfus' hatred for Clouseau continues and he demotes him to beat cop, although Dreyfus' superiors force him to reinstate Clouseau so he can help with solving the case of another theft of the pink panther diamond. Dreyfus continues to try and kill Clouseau, such as trying to blow him up at his apartment, but no avail. When Clouseau follows a lead involving The Phantom/Sir Charles Lytton, he is stalked by Dreyfus who is determined to finish what he has started. When Clouseau and Charles are about to be killed by criminals, Dreyfus attempts to gun down Clouseau only to kill the criminals instead, saving both him and Charles' lives. Enraged by his failure to kill Clouseau once again, Dreyfus goes berserk before he is arrested. He is later institutionalized at a lunatic asylum, straitjacketed, vowing to kill Clouseau by writing "Kill Clouseau" with his toes.
The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976)
Years after his imprisonment, Dreyfus has been declared sane and is due to be released. But after a visit from Clouseau which results in several calamities where Dreyfus is hurt, Dreyfus suffers another breakdown and chases Clouseau down with the intention to kill him. At some point afterwards, Dreyfus gets out of the asylum and begins to band together a bunch of criminals to form his own international criminal empire, with the goal to kill Clouseau. He kidnaps a scientist named Professor Hugo Fassbender and the scientist's daughter Margo and forces him to build a doomsday weapon for him.
Dreyfus uses the weapon to disintegrate the United Nations building, and blackmails the world leaders into having Clouseau assassinated. But despite many assassins attempts to kill Clouseau (who is oblivious to what is happening) they end up killing themselves by accident.
Clouseau tracks down Dreyfus to his hideout (a castle) and infiltrates it disguised as an elderly German dentist, in order to "tend" to Dreyfus' bad tooth. Clouseau ends up getting himself and Dreyfus high on laughing gas and pulls out the wrong tooth. Dreyfus, who is in hysterics over being high, realizes that he is Clouseau and sends his guards to kill him, forcing Clouseau to flee. Dreyfus attempts to use his doomsday device to wipe out England, but Clouseau accidentally ends up on the machine which aims at Dreyfus and shoots him. Dreyfus begins to disintegrate, with only his twitching eye being the last thing to appear before he is completely obliterated.
Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978)
After Clouseau is presumed dead following an attempted mob hit, Dreyfus is restored to sanity and leads the investigation (with his supposed death in the previous film and multiple crimes being forgotten about). Dreyfus is asked to read an eulogy at Clouseau's funeral and can't contain his laughter due to it praising Clouseau for being a great detective and person. During the funeral, Dreyfus is shocked when he spots Clouseau disguised as a priest, and ends up fainting into the grave. Dreyfus is revealed to be the neighbour Simone Lagree, Douvier's mistress (Douvier wanted Simone dead when his wife threatened to blow the whistle on his crimes due to Douvier's unfaithfulness. Douvier couldn't get rid of his own wife as Simone wanted since her attorney would just hand the evidence against him over to the police if anything happened to her. Douvier couldn't get rid of his wife's attorney as Simone suggested since he couldn't afford the scandal. Douvier also couldn't get rid of the authorities as Simone suggested). When Clouseau and Simone hide in Dreyfus' apartment from Douvier's assassins after Clouseau accidentally saved her, the sleeping Dreyfus accidentally overhears Simone telling Clouseau about Douvier's plans to sell heroin to a mobster from New York City. Dreyfus wakes up and faints at the site of Clouseau. Wanting to investigate Douvier, Dreyfus decides to head to Hong Kong to investigate where Clouseau is impersonating the New York City mobster to try to foil Douvier's plans. Dreyfus makes another attempt on Clouseau's life by firing a gun at him, and chases him into a fireworks factory. Dreyfus accidentally lights a firework, causing the place to go up in an explosion.
Trail of the Pink Panther (1982)
When the Pink Panther diamond is stolen again, Clouseau is called to the case despite Dreyfus' protests. Dreyfus learns from Scotland Yard that Libyan terrorists have marked Clouseau for assassination, but permits him to continue. After Clouseau's plane goes down over the ocean en route to Lugash, a reporter Marie Jouvet begins covering the story. Dreyfus is one of several people who knew Clouseau who gets interviewed by her. Dreyfus informs Marie Jouvet about Clouseau having his Chinese manservant Cato Fang conduct a series of surprise attacks on him in order to sharpen his martial art skills which prompted Marie to interview Cato afterwards. When Bruno Langlois, who has replaced Phillippe Douvier as the new mob leader of France, kidnapped Marie and tried to intimidate her into cancelling her investigation into Clouseau's disappearance, Marie demanded that Dreyfus press charges. Ultimately, Dreyfus refused due to his hatred for Clouseau.
Curse of the Pink Panther (1983)
Despite Clouseau being incompetent, most of the world sees him as a great detective, which leads to a planned investigation into his disappearance from the President of France and the police commissioner. Anxious to hear from his nemesis again, Dreyfus makes a deal with a criminal by promising him early parole as well as the opportunity to keep millions of francs the criminal stole from the bank through computer fraud to sabotage a super computer for Interpol that is to select the world's greatest detective for the case, second to Clouseau. This tinkering leads to the machine to instead pick the worst, which turns out to be Sergeant Clifton Sleigh from the New York City Police Department. Sleigh, who is descended from a long line of cops, sees the case as an opportunity to prove his worth. Dreyfus and and Sergeant François Durval soon find that the sabotage has worked a bit too well: while slightly more intelligent and capable, Sleigh is just as bumbling as Clouseau. When Sleigh meets Dreyfus for the first time in his office, Sleigh trips over his own feet and knocks Dreyfus into his wheeled office chair, which rolls out onto the balcony and sends Dreyfus falling three stories into a pond below, breaking his left leg. Sleigh even injured Dreyfus again in the hospital by accident by falling over the hospital equipment holding Dreyfus' leg. Dreyfus, finally having enough of Sleigh, followed him to Valencia, Spain, where Dreyfus told the Valencian police that Sleigh was an impostor in order to get him arrested. Dreyfus discovers Sleigh entering into an affair with Juleta Shayne and later witnesses a masked man, who was actually Clouseau, drug Juleta by mistake. Dreyfus is then delighted to learn Sleigh has been arrested upon watching him from the window. When Sleigh realizes Juleta worked at a Health Spa operated by Countess Chandra and went there, Dreyfus tried to blow Sleigh up only to accidentally injure himself, thus falling into the ocean. Dreyfus later made his back to France before Sleigh could get suspicious. Sleigh, due to being the World's Worst Detective, incorrectly concluded that Clouseau stole the Pink Panther diamond, underwent plastic surgery, and changed his name to Gino Rossi. This is what happened: a man named Gino Rossi stole the Pink Panther diamond and tried to sell it to Countess Chandra. Clouseau showed detective genius by figuring out it was Rossi who took the diamond and tried to arrest him. Chandra murdered Rossi for the diamond and to prevent him from killing Clouseau. Clouseau got bored with catching criminals which is why, after helping Countess Chandra get rid of Rossi's body, he underwent plastic surgery and became a British film star known as Roger Moore due to the powerful influence of his lover and partner-in-crime, Countess Chandra. Rossi's body was found washed up on shore after he was shot to death. Dreyfus, anxious to be rid of Sleigh, told Sleigh and Francois that Rossi's prints indeed match Clouseau's even though Dreyfus didn't believe that this is what happened. As Dreyfus sets fire to Gino Rossi's photograph, happy to be rid of Clouseau once and for all, he accidentally sets fire to his office. Sleigh tries to save Dreyfus by using a hose to put out the fire with a hose, only to accidentally hit Dreyfus with the water, the force of which pushes him onto his balcony and Dreyfus again falls three stories into the pond below.
Son of the Pink Panther (1993)
Ten years after the incident, Dreyfus got appointed to be commissioner. Dreyfus and Sleigh helped the French government cover up Clouseau's death by making him die a hero rather than as a villain in order to prevent Lugash from finding out (The French government feared retaliation from Lugash if they were discover that the Pink Panther was stolen by France's Greatest Detective who has gone to the bad side). When Princess Yasmin of Lugas is abducted in French territorial waters by terrorists led by a mercenary named Hans in order to blackmail her father into abdicating and allowing a corrupt Lugash military general with terrorist ties to an unfriendly neighboring kingdom, to claim the throne. Dreyfus is assigned to find the kidnapped princess. Dreyfus has a run-in with one of the kidnappers and a local gendarme named Jacques Gambrelli, who reminds Dreyfus of Clouseau because of Gambrelli's bumbling. Gambrelli opens the rear doors of the kidnapper's van and unknowingly spies the Princess who he believes is the driver's sister en route to the hospital. Hans becomes aware that Gambrelli witnessed the Princess in the back of his van and sends his henchmen to kill Gambrelli as a routine precaution. Dreyfus follows Gambrelli out of suspicion. When Hans' henchmen try to kill Gambrelli, Dreyfus intervenes and saves Gambrelli from being killed. Dreyfus takes Maria to his home where he lives with Maria Gambrelli, a murder suspect in a case in 1963. During the casual encounter with Maria, Dreyfus learns from her Gambrelli is in fact the illegitimate son of the late Inspector Jacques Clouseau. When Hans' men attempt to plant a bomb under the Gambrelli house only for Dreyfus to get injured instead. Dreyfus warns Gambrelli about Hans wanting him dead and is able to confirm from Gambrelli that Princess Yasmin is still in the South of France. To protect Maria, Dreyfus orders his men to take her to his hotel suite and give her round the clock protection while he recuperates in the hospital. Dreyfus also becomes smitten with Jacques' mother. When Princess Yasmin is in Lugash now because of Hans, Dreyfus orders Jacques to forget about Yasmin and remain in France since it was out of Dreyfus and Jacques' jurisdiction. Despite being a law abaiding man and being loyal to Dreyfus, Jacques willingly disobeys his boss by heading to Lugash with Cato save Princess Yasmin. After returning to France, Dreyfus promotes Gambrelli to inspector. Dreyfus and Maria get married months later. During the reception, Dreyfus is shocked when Gambrelli's twin sister Jacqueline appears and who turns out to be just a clumsy and dim-witted as her father. Dreyfus is now the stepfather of his hated enemy's children. Despite that, Dreyfus still attended Jacques' award ceremony where his stepson is decorated by the King of Lugash for saving his daughter.
The Pink Panther (2006)
Dreyfus is portrayed by Kevin Kline and still a chief inspector. Unlike Lom's Dreyfus, Kline's Dreyfus is more concerned about amassing political capital and becoming a senator rather than protecting the people of France. Kline's Dreyfus pretends to enjoy football when he actually considers it to be boring. During a football match between France and China, coach Yves Gluant arrives wearing the priceless Pink Panther diamond ring, and embraces his girlfriend, pop star Xania. After France wins the game against China, Gluant is killed by a poison dart, with the Pink Panther diamond missing. Dreyfus was more concerned about winning the Légion d'honneur rather than getting justice for Gluant, Dreyfus assigns the bumbling small-town gendarme Jacques Clouseau to the case by making him an inspector in order to distract the media while Dreyfus investigated Gluant's death privately. Dreyfus, with Clouseau's knowledge, assembles a team of top investigators to actually crack the case. Dreyfus assigns Detective Second Class Gilbert Ponton as Clouseau's partner to report Clouseau's actions to him. After MI5 Agent 006, Nigel Boswell, foils a robbery by the "Gas Mask Bandits", using Clouseau's trench coat to hide his identity. Clouseau mistakenly receives credit for the deed and is nominated for the Légion d'honneur. Dreyfus is left enraged at this and vows to destroy Ponton's career for not telling him that Clouseau was going to the casino even though there was nothing Ponton couldn't have done since Ponton was also unaware of the team of investigators that Dreyfus hired similar to Clouseau. While Clouseau is in New York, Dreyfus deduces that Gluant's murder is Chinese envoy, Dr. Pang becase Gluant stole Pang's money and a Chinese dart was in fact used to murder him. Dreyfus then reaches out to his mob contacts to swap Clouseau's bag at the airport with one full of weapons, setting off the metal detector, and Clouseau is mistakenly arrested for terrorism. Dreyfus strips Clouseau of his rank and has the charges dropped and mocked Clouseau about being an idiot as well as being vilified by the press. When Dreyfus becomes ruthless to arrest Dr. Pang, Clouseau and Ponton save Xania from Yuri the trainer, Gluant's real killer. Clouseau wins the medal and accidentally sends Dreyfus to the hospital by dragging him across the street witth his car then to the Seine river at the hospital when he accidentally unlock the bed holder.
The Pink Panther 2
With Kevin Kline being replaced with John Cleese, Dreyfus is once again in this film and still hostile towards Clouseau for winning the medal rather than him. Dreyfus is pressured by his superiors into assigning Clouseau to the Dream Team to pursue the Tornado. When the Commissioner asks Dreyfus to remove Clouseau from the case, Dreyfus has Clouseau moved only after one more embarrassing act. When Clouseau is removed from the Dream Team, Dreyfus attempts to make the Dream Team permanent and ignores Clouseau's warnings about Sonia being the actual jewel thief. When Clouseau, Chief Inspector Randall Pepperbridge, and several other Dream Team members pursue Sonia, Dreyfus stays behind out of fear that Sonia would shoot him. Once Sonia throws the Pink Panther into the air and shoots it with her gun, reducing it to dust, Dreyfuss angrily insults Clouseau for getting the daimond destroyed before Clouseau reveals that he had anticipated the Pink Panther being stolen so had it switched with the worthless replica he had at home and knew the accussed Phantom jewel thief was innocent; his supposed suicide note spoke of the daimonds beauty when he would have known it was a fake. Dreyfus is then shocked that Clouseau outsmarted Sonia this time and tries to claim credit for assigning Clouseau to parking duty since that helped Clouseau crack the case, however, Clouseau denied it since Dreyfus wanted Clouseau to not tell anyone about it earlier. Despite the hostility towards Clouseau, Dreyfus still helped Clouseau in his marriage to his secretary. During his time, Dreyfus has been cheating on his wife with another woman.
- Dreyfus' signature eye tick was an accident during filming. Due to how amusing it was, Herbert Lom was asked to make it part of the character, which he complied and it became a recurring part of Dreyfus for the rest of the series.
- Dreyfus has the second most appearances in the series, behind Inspector Clouseau. Inspector Clouseau appeared in 8 films in the original series, whereas Dreyfus appears in 6 movies. Although Herbert Lom has had the most film appearances, as Peter Sellers only filmed 5 movies, with archive footage being used for Trail of the Pink Panther after his death.
- The final film of the Blake Edwards series Son of the Pink Panther is the only time in which Dreyfus isn't in an antagonistic role.
- In the Steve Martin Pink Panther movies, this version of Dreyfus is still the chief inspector and never tries to have Martin's Clouseau assassinated. Unlike Lom's Dreyfus, Kline and Cleese's Dreyfus is more concerned about amassing political capital and receiving praise than actually catching criminals and protecting France. While Lom's Dreyfus hates Clouseau because of his bumbling, Kline and Cleese's Dreyfus despises Clouseau because of his detective's genius.
- Cleese and Kline's Dreyfus would have loved to have used Seller's Clouseau as an incompetent investigator in the Yves Gluant case then succeeded in humiliating him while Lom's Dreyfus would have most likely been forgiving towards Martin's Clouseau because of his detective genius while putting aside his bumbling antics.
The Pink Panther
A Shot in the Dark
Return of the Pink Panther
The Pink Panther Strikes Again
Trail of the Pink Panther
Son of the Pink Panther
The Pink Panther (2006)
The Pink Panther 2