An American businessman visits London and is horrified to discover his nubile teenage daughter has become involved with a gang of thuggish "beatniks". Her involvement leads to wild parties, sex, death and necrophilia.
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Melina is the spoiled daughter of an American industrialist.Despite being engaged to Carson who works for her father, Melina chooses to spend her days in London where she's constantly partying with her British beatnik friends. The leader of the British beatnik group she's hanging with is Moise.He has a girlfriend and also sleeps with other girls in the group but he mostly wants Melina in his bed.Maybe that's because Melina plays hard-to-get.Melina's industrialist father, Ben, is worried about her activities and sends his trusted manager and future son-in-law, Carson, to track Melina down and bring her back to the USA.When Carson arrives in London, Melina gets wind of it and avoids him, constantly running and hiding, changing her address, frustrating Carson's efforts to find her.However, Carson starts making some progress when he moves in the same apartment building as Melina and her friends.Carson also begins to hang out at the same beatnik parties as Melina and her friends.But when ... Written by
Somewhere around the middle of the 1950's the teenager became an autonomous commodity in the west, garnering their own, distinctive "movements". In Britain - before The Beatles - the majority of youth identities were extracted from American sub-cultures. In Guy Hamilton's The Party's Over, the youthful group, or gang, are heavily influenced by the beat generation whose poetry and writing confronted political and social change through nihilistic, non-conformist characters and ideologies. Known in popular culture and the media as Beatniks (the "niks" added later in America to codify the group with communist affiliations - the nik was taken from the Sputnik, the Russian satellite that was launched in 1957), Oliver Reed's gang leader, Moise, guides his group through the hedonistic party scene of early 1960's London, opening with a shot of the Albert bridge in the early morning as the partied-out gang mope zombie-like, with Annie Ross's dour theme tune playing on their mournful souls. But what the film seems to focus the majority of its attentions on is the damaging consequences of both group mentality and heavy, prolonged partying. It's a moral tone that both reflects British society.
Along with the iconography of youth gang, with the tribal costuming - contrary to the idea of individuality and non-conformity, it's ironic that these ideas are scuppered by the entourage to the central trend- setting leader, - the film is about the changing political and social setting of Britain. In the still war-torn London of the early 1960's, an American businessman, Carson (Cifford David), has been sent over the Atlantic in search of his fiancée, Melina (Louise Sorel), who has been enveloped by the Chelsea set gang. Carson has been sent over by her father, a rich and powerful businessman himself. The gang, co-ordinated by Moise, send Carson on a cat and mouse chase around London, in search of the girl whom seems to be either an enigma or a skillful evader. It seems to be no accident that the American character is suave, sophisticated, smart and in control of his life, whilst the gang members are rough and without moral values. Britain was losing its Empire, and America was becoming the dominant super-power. The juxtaposition of the two transatlantic male central characters shows the parallel between the optimism of the new power and the degrading attitudes of the dying empire. As Carson begins to move deeper into the gangs secrets and situations, the dark and jarring truth changes everyone around them.
The Party's Over was an incredibly controversial film at the time, and inevitably, the film was problematic for the British Board of Film Censors. At the centre of this contention was a particular scene at a party. Melina is seen laying at the edges of the dance floor. Members of the gang stand over her, mocking her, claiming that she is unable to handle her drink. The scene quickly turns to sinister and depraved areas, which become even harder to swallow once we discover that Melina was in fact dead. The gang, like vultures, dive onto her, pulling her clothes off. A young member of the gang, Phillip (Jonathan Burn), mounts Melina in this scene, kissing and fondling her - an action that he later fatefully regrets. This scene is shown from different perspectives, much like Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon (1950). Unfortunately, due to its very suggestive nature, the British censors cut around 18 minutes from the film, and was overlooked on its release. In the cut released in 1965, the power of the film is totally lost, as these scenes are central to both the films themes and narrative. These cuts also lead to director Guy Hamilton (who would later make his name on several Bond films) and producer Anthony Perry removing their names from the credits.
But it is Reed's central performance that dominates the screen. It is not a large step away from a previous role in Joseph Losey's The Damned (1963), but his brooding, antagonistic presence is illuminating. He mocks and berates at those sycophants around him, bleating at them like a sheep, laughing at their following natures. He does however, respect those who defy him, despite his later moral maturity. In one sense the film offers an insight into the decay of post-Empire Britain, and a glimpse into the moralising of the newly dominant America. But also the film highlights what many youth films tend to forget. These youth movements (particularly in the 1960's - including the later "Hippie" movement) are fundamentally entrenched in privilege. Therefore, whilst the films young characters are rough, violent, self-absorbed, these are the future Representatives of the British class system. Perhaps more the reason for the BBFC's attack on the film: it may well have been a different release if the gang members were from the other side of London, the East-end, as opposed the West.
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