Party, The /B,C
MGM/1968/99/ANA 2.35

    As the bugle sounds opening The Party, many contemporary viewers may not realize it's part homage, part send-up of George Stevens classic adventure flick Gunga Din. It doesn't matter too much because before you can say Hrundi V.Bakshi you realize that the Indian under the turban blowing the bugle is played by Peter Sellers. His steadfast refusal to die without yet another blow of the bugle is indicative of the style of comedy Blake Edwards delivers in The Party:  often refusing to let a joke die. But when it's funny, it's often hilarious.
    An errant vindictive  Hollywood note scribbled while on the telephone brings invites walking disaster Bakshi to a big time Hollywood party.  From the Indian actor's Bakshi's first steps into the Clutterbuck household are the most sidesplitting moments in the film. Bakshi prances around like an embarrassed pussycat. Sellers is at his greatest. What's new pussycat. 

A painful honor. ©MGM

     True, The Party is a one-note movie. Virtually all the humor rests on the rubber shoulders of comic genius Peter Sellers. Walking in Bakshi's shoes, and out of them, provides many hilarious moments. Claudine Longet plays the love interest and she's not up to much of anything. She can't muster up much more than a wan smile and she clearly looks out of her element.
     Director Edwards keeps the manic comedy coming faster than the sit-down dinner at The Party. Edwards is one of the best contemporary directors at delivering slapstick with panache. The visual humor is reminiscent of the classic silent clowns. There's a little bit of Chaplin in the hapless Bakshi. There's far too much of a soused waiter, though he does provide many funny moments. The whole thing end in wild chaos with the soap suds taking the place of the pies Edwards used in the grand finale of The Great Race. Personally, I like my finishes with pie. 
    The Party has not been transferred to DVD with the fanfare it deserves. There are far too many scenes delivering less than the max on resolution.  Maybe some scenes were jittery because I couldn't keep my head still from laughing, but I doubt it. The source material is in mediocre condition. Lots of dirt and some color fading. The Dolby Digital mono sound is adequate.


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