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I always find it strange that people think a comedy should have you
rolling in your chair
not so! There are movies that one gets a warm,
funny feeling inside and that one appreciates the subtleties of the
acting and set ups. Often a laugh a minute movie is forgotten quickly,
but those movies that simmer and let the humor seep out slowly often
linger in the mind.
The Party is a movie shot in the sixties with all the hang-ups and social undertones that were abundant then. I laughed myself silly then and today I still laugh with the benefit of hindsight and years of social and cultural change.
Peter Sellers' performance is on a level par with Chaplin; a rare achievement for any actor.
This film has to be regarded as a hilarious one-man-act by Peter Sellers. I saw it on its first run UK cinema release in 1969 and I've seen it at least a dozen times since. I would gladly watch it another dozen times; it always makes me laugh. The supporting cast perform adequately but Peter Sellers does all the work. He is simply one of the all-time greatest masters of great comedy timing. I was surprised to read so many negative comments on this site in association with this film. I can only surmise that they have come from a younger generation who have had their sense of humour surgically removed due to a force fed diet of unamusing US sitcoms. If you can't laugh at this film you must be birdie-num-num!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Party offers a remarkably skillful blend of humor and critique. I'd like
to offer a somewhat serious but very informal observation of this very
clever, funny movie. We've got a non-Westerner (Hrundi Bakshi, played by
Peter Sellers) trying desperately to fit into American culture. We've also
got a young French woman (Michele Monet, played by Claudine Longet), who is
also trying to fit in. Neither of them like or understand what they see.
Hrundi seems incompetent, but when he's not bending to American society we
recognize that he's really intelligent, intuitive, funny, and caring.
As Hrundi wends his way through the hosts' gigantic house, he observes the pitfalls of the American way: drugs, alcoholism, greed, deceit, vanity, materialism, sexism, and racism, to name a few. He also observes societal constraints. Michele sees these things too, and she is also the target of sexism and even, perhaps, of misogyny (her date tries to force himself on her and, later, demands that she leave with him or lose any chance of a film career). They interact with people who think they know who they are but, as Hrundi infers, don't really know who they are.
The climax occurs when Hrundi demands that the hosts' daughter and her friends wash an elephant they have ignominiously painted (a representation of ideological protest gone wrong, since it's more for entertainment than for anything else). When they start washing, the party turns into a real party. Social lines are blurred as people in different social levels are equalized, for example, when some of the housekeeping staff joins the party. Constraints and boundaries are laid aside and forgotten. The American guests, a group of Russian entertainers, Hrundi, and Michele all join in and have fun together. Not everyone joins the party; the older Americans refuse to participate. But we get the idea that they and their ideals have been vanquished.
In the end of the movie, we get a strong and uplifting suggestion that Hrundi and Michele are going to be spending more time together.
Subtle humor, clever slapstick, romance, and serious issues -- The Party has them all in good abundance. The best aspect of this movie, however, is that it examines serious themes through masterful,unrelenting humor.
What can you say about Peter Sellers? From the Goon Show, through the Ealing comedies, the Pink Panther films, up to Being There, he was consistently brilliant! Kubrick knew it, Blake Edwards knew it, and this movie does a lot to prove it to everyone else. Instead of making his stereotype just a vehicle for laughs, he brings out the pathos and beauty inherent in alienation..instead of using scripted antique gags as an invitation to walk through the role, he transcends each tired joke with impeccable timing and facial expressions. Even the silly sixties situations don't ruin the comedy here, as they did in Alice B. Toklas. In my opinion, this one is timeless, and should be seen by anyone who has a sense of humor.
The movie is still fresh after all these years. It's an homage to the
slapstick comedy, an homage to the Laurel & Hardy films, and to Chaplin
movies as well.
"The party" is the finest achievement of Sellers & Edwards, the film is far superior to the "Pink Panther" series. Why? The story is absolutely simple: by mistake an Indian actor goes to a party in a Hollywood villa. End of the story.
Mr. Hrundi V. Bakshi (the name of the main character) is the kindest and most awkward person you can meet... The film is just made by a group of gags -many are improvised-.
We can see that Peter Sellers, a terrific actor, is also a mime -he can do whatever with the expressions of his face and his body-. For doing such film you have to have a very intelligent and patient director, who knows all the comedy's tricks and let actors play with a total freedom... Blake Edwards is an eclectic director who allows that. Working with Peter Sellers (as Edwards says) was not easy -he had a very difficult personality, either he was the funniest man in the world or he was the most unbearable person. But he was a genius, he let many many gems.
"The Party" is one of them. Brilliant and moving.
I'm sorry, but if you don't laugh, until you cry or your sides ache, at something, hell, at everything in this movie then you'd better check yourself for a pulse. The first four or five times I viewed The Party, I did just that. This is a gut aching, side splitting, fall on the floor, laugh a minute comedy, from start to finish! The scene where the Cornish game hen 'flies' across the dinner table and lands on the tiara of one of the party 'goers' is literally one of the funniest scenes of all time. And it's not just the outrageously funny bumbling physical comedy of Peter Sellers. There is also a subtleness with which Sellers portrays his Indian character that is very visible in his many facial expressions as well as with the 'body language' he uses, that's just as funny. If you even like comedy just a little, you'll love this movie. I give it 4 stars, to infinity!
`The Party' is one of the few comedies that I can watch repeatedly and still
enjoy, to a great extent due to the charm of the character Peter Sellers
creates. Hrundi V. Bakshi urgently needs to be appropriate and polite (he
absolutely CANNOT be impolite), but his natural curiosity and unfamiliarity
with his surroundings wreak havoc. He's really quite an admirable fellow,
though. He's unfailingly considerate and reasonable, but brave and
resourceful when coming to the aid of another, as in the case of producer
C.S. Divot's (Gavin MacLeod) exploitation of Michelle Monet (Claudine
Longet). I find it hard to accept the notion that the characterization is
racist, as some contend, unless you consider the very act of a white person
playing an Indian in dark makeup racist. It can't be denied that many
westerners find the accent amusing (see Baboo in `Seinfeld,' or Apu in `The
Simpsons'). Still, Sellers' characterization of Bakshi is no stereotype,
and I don't feel that his portrayal brings discredit to
That aside, this is one damned funny film! As `anonymous' from Chicago has pointed out below, there are interesting aspects there for your consideration, if you choose to look for them. More than just a series of pratfalls and sight gags, `The Party' is a multi-faceted creation, as is its central character. If you haven't seen it, pour yourself a heaping bowl of birdie num-nums and give it a look. It's on DVD now, collectors.
I need only add that I am not your sugar.
Blackballed bit-actor in Hollywood is mistakenly invited to a Tinsel Town party hosted by the same studio chief who wants him dead. Unusual comedy with little dialogue, lots of terrific visual gags and Peter Sellers at his peak (he's very low-keyed here, and immensely charming). Director Blake Edwards loses his footing in the last twenty minutes when the gathering gets out of hand (I can't recall one movie wherein a wild party sequence managed to be hilarious). Despite this, there's a lovely concluding scene between Sellers and a breathtaking Claudine Longet (who looks like a delicate flower) which left me beaming. "The Party" isn't full of dumb shtick. The slapstick is sometimes very smart, and Edwards doesn't condescend to the audience. Nice soundtrack, too, by the incomparable Henry Mancini (with kudos to Longet's song "Nothing To Lose", written by Mancini and Don Black). *** out of ****
When I was working for the Museum of Modern Art, we had a small retrospective for Blake Edwards, and he selected "The Party" as the movie he wanted to open with: he felt it was his "purest" film comedy. After the opening sequence with the Peter Sellers character wrecking a movie set, the bulk of the film takes place during the night of a big Hollywood party (which the Sellers character is inadvertently invited to). In this, the film is as rigorous as Antonioni's "La Notte" (also set during the events of one day and night), and the sight gags build and accumulate in a manner that is reminiscent of Jacques Tati (with the same melancholic humor prevading the slapstick). The film is utterly charming, with some acerbic touches pricking the hypocrisies of Hollywood, and the film takes the time to let the characters (especially the two principals, played by Sellers and Claudine Longet in her only major film role) develop. It may not be as manic as parts of "The Pink Panther" but it's very funny in an even and sustained way.
I love this movie! Peter Sellers plays a bumbling Indian movie extra who, after prematurely blowing up a very expensive fort (which was meant to be destroyed in the big finale of the war movie he was cast in), is earmarked for blacklisting so he will 'never work in movies again'. His name inadvertently ends up on an exclusive guest list to a Hollywood party at the residence of the bigwig producer who tried to sack him. Many laughs follow as Sellers (lacking in social skills) fumbles his way around the party, bringing misadventure to all those he meets. The visual gags are cheap but effective and his Indian accent is to die for! This is a side-splitter - definitely check it out! I gave it an 8 out of 10.
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