Playing the part of Simon in this movie, actor Graeme Blundell had actually produced the first stage production of David Williamson's source 'Don's Party' play in August 1971 at the Pram Factory in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
This movie's lead cast was originally intended to be comprised of people from Australian television. Producer Phillip Adams reasoned that as Australia had not established cinema star system, it would therefore be good to draw the cast from television. Michael Willesee was going to play dentist Evan, Barry Crocker would play Don Henderson, 'Graham Kennedy' would play Mack and 'Paul Hogan' would play Cooley. Due to various reasons (Crocker got injured, Hogan turned it down), the casting of all the TV stars didn't go through except for Kennedy. In a 1994 interview, Kennedy commented how he was the only TV personality left in the cast and was daunted by the fact that he would have to act alongside a group of "real" actors.
This movie has been said to have resurrected the film career of director Bruce Beresford whose two recent pictures, the second Barry McKenzie movie Barry McKenzie Holds His Own (1974) and the little-seen British comedy Side by Side (1975), had both been both critically and commercially unsuccessful.
A quite comprehensive documentary about the making of this film, Crashing the Party: The Making of 'Don's Party' (2005), is included on the Australian DVD 2-disc release. Running for over two hours, at 140 minutes, the documentary is actually longer than the 'Don's Party' film itself, which runs 90 minutes.
According to actor John Hargreaves in a radio interview included on the Australian DVD, Hargreaves had originally wanted to play Coolie in this movie. He and actress Wendy Hughes sought a weekly salary that was more than what was being offered and as such neither actors were going to appear in the movie. Hughes still didn't but when Barry Crocker got injured, Hargreaves was cast as Don Henderson.
This film only differs slightly from David Williamson's 'Don's Party' stage play and was not substantially "opened-up" for this movie version. Differences included some of the "off-stage" bedroom-scenes of the play adapted into the film. The next-door-neighbor's nude swimming pool sequence was a completely new sequence added to the film and came about by the fact that the property next door to the house where the film was shooting had a swimming pool.
Actor John Hargreaves had part of his head shaved along with a few other make-up touches in order to look the right middle-age of his character Don Henderson. Hargreaves was still young at the time and had originally wanted to play the much younger character Cooley.
Actress Pat Bishop played Kath Henderson on the stage in theatre performances of the play 'Don's Party' but in this film version Bishop instead played Jenny. Bishop won the Australian Film Institute (AFI) Best Actress award for her role in this film.
This movie was nominated for 8 Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards including Best Film and two for Best Actress: (Jeanie Drynan and Pat Bishop). The film won 6 AFI Awards including Best Director (Bruce Beresford), Best Screenplay (David Williamson), Best Sound, and Best Editing. Williamson's writing has been criticized for lacking depth in women characters yet ironically none of the male actors won an AFI Award for this film but two of the actresses did: Veronica Lang for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and Pat Bishop for Best Actress. The film won an AFI Award in every category it was nominated for except for Best Film which went to Storm Boy (1976).
When this film screened at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1977, a glossary of terms of Australian idioms was produced to assist audiences to understand the Australian colloquialisms and slang.
John Grey Gorton:
The former Prime Minister of Australia (1968-1971) as Himself. The film is set during Australia's Election Night 1969 so Gorton in the film is the present Prime Minister for the time in which the movie is set.