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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

The Party (1968)


Starring: Peter Sellers and Claudine Longet
Distributor: Eureka Entertainment
RRP: £14.99


Certificate: PG
Release Date: 16 October 2017

By a twist of fate, the clumsy but good-hearted, aspiring actor Hrundi V. Bakshi is invited to attend Fred "General" Clutterbuck's big party, after having utterly ruined the set of his latest feature film. In this cozy and friendly atmosphere, drinks are flowing, food is in abundance and everybody is in high spirits. But when Bakshi accidentally has his first-ever sip of alcohol and his real identity is finally revealed; only God knows how this party is going to end up...

With the success of Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) and The Pink Panther (1963), Blake Edwards followed up with The Party (1968), arguably his greatest film, and at the time one of the most experimental movies ever produced by a Hollywood studio.

Serving as a series of set pieces for Seller’s improvisational comedy talents, The Party was originally intended to be a colour silent movie. Edwards and Sellers had had a falling out on the set of A Shot in the Dark (1964), with both swearing they'd never work with the other again. But Edwards knew that Sellers was the perfect person for the role.

In fact, the role itself, as much of the movie, wasn't really scripted. All that existed was the foundations for a plot with which the actors largely improvised. The rigging up of a video camera on the film camera allowed the director and actors to rewatch each scene as soon as it was shot. This helped to allow for retakes to capture the perfect take.

For me, personally, it's a classic that I was introduced to by my girlfriend many years ago. It's a film we still watch from time to time (although I hadn't seen it for about ten years). Watching it again made me realise how wonderfully the majority of the comedic scenes were constructed. When you break the story down, it's really nothing more than a collection of small comedic set pieces that are stitched together.

The opening scenes, with Bakshi messing up shoots on film sets, gives the production an expensive Hollywood movie feel, with the main scenes at the party having more of a TV production vibe.

Extras appear to be from an earlier DVD release (most of them are dated 2004 - and most of the interviewees have long since passed away). We get The Party Revolution (16 min, 30 sec look at using video camera set up to see scenes straight away to help polish performance; Inside The Party (24 min - a look at how the film was a homage to silent movies; Sellers and Edwards relationship; and how dangerous the bubbles in the pool were); Blake Edwards Profile (8 min 2004 interview); Walter Mirisch Profile (4 min, 25 sec interview); Ken Wales Profile (7 min 20 sec interview); and Original Theatrical Trailer (7 min, 01 sec).

It is still an enjoyable movie, even if it's aged somewhat. Whether or not a younger audience will find it slightly racist may also spoil your enjoyment. You have to bear in mind the time it was made and the basis of the comedy: Bakshi is an outsider trying to fit in. It's not really his fault that he misreads things. It's the same as anyone would do going from one culture to another - by acting politely how you would in your own culture, you can easily offend another.


Darren Rea

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