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An aging silent movie comic star tries for a comeback by staging a wild party that turns into a sexual free-for-all. The comic ends up killing his mistress and her latest boyfriend. Written by
[narrating as Jolly and Queenie make their entrance down the main stairway]
As they made their exhibition, did I feel something, a premonition? Poor beast, with fair beauty by his side. Fragile hope strangled by jealous pride?
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This is one of my favorite Merchant/Ivory films. I first saw it when I was a movie usher in 1975 and American International released a very butchered version that cut out a lot of character info and played up the sex and nudity. Many many years later on cable TV I came across the restored version with new scenes and re-edited old ones and it plays like an entirely new film!
James Coco is silent movie comic Jolly Grimm, desperate to save his slipping career by pitching his new film at a Hollywood party. Raquel Welch is his mistress, Queenie, a former showgirl who puts up with Grimm's temper and beatings longer than she should.
The film takes place in a frantic 24-hour period wherein just about every disaster and humiliation possible befalls Grimm, leading up to the tragic/dramatic finale. The titular party is more tacky than wild, but it looks like a lot of fun, populated as it is by a host of curious Hollywood characters. Coco is a standout in a role that should have received more attention. The same holds for Welch who works like a Trojan (and kinda dances like one in her numerous musical numbers,) and while never quite pulling off the dialog ("Ya big lug!"), is rather endearing in her efforts. Special applause for Tiffany Bolling as Welch's best friend. She is funny and real and would have made a wonderfully vulnerable Queenie.
Even when being batted around by Coco, Welch looks like she could punch Coco into the sound era.
Though essentially a tragedy, "The Wild Party" is too flawed to be moving, but is a really enjoyable and visually rich film. The musical score (featuring "The Herbert Hoover Drag") is a gem!
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