The Party on Blu-ray

Monday, 16 October 2017 08:48

The Party - Out now on Blu-rayThe dynamite duo of Peter Sellers and director Blake Edwards (“The Pink Panther”, “A Shot in the Dark”) return for this comedy about an accident-prone Indian actor who is mistakenly invited to a prestigious Hollywood dinner party. Hrundi V Bakshi (Sellers) arrives at the palatial residence of movie mogul Geoffrey Clutterbuck, and immediately begins to weave a web of chaos in the best slapstick tradition of Inspector Clouseau, Laurel and Hardy, and Mr Bean.

Bakshi is not the only individual disrupting the party, however, as overbearing, egotistical big-wigs try to force themselves on up-and-coming starlets, and an alcoholic waiter causes friction in the kitchen. And that is before a baby elephant makes an appearance! A homage to the silent movie era, this largely improvised farce is heavy on physical comedy and light on dialogue, and based on recent events is as topical now as must have 50 years ago.

Today’s younger audience members might find their attention wandering during the film but I have always found it enchanting. To all intents and purposes it is a sequence of pranks, but they are finely played and the escalating pandemonium keeps one glued to the screen.

Bakshi is so utterly endearing - a normal, well-meaning, sweetly polite gentleman who really stands out amongst the Hollywood bores and vain women, not least because is he so far out of his comfort zone and social class. He catches the eye of a beautiful French actress trying to get her big break (actress and singer Claudine Longet) but who, unlike some, is not prepared to compromise her integrity for the sake of a step up the ladder of fame.

The gags come thick and fast, some over in a flash but others building through the entire course of the film to bigger and bigger payoffs. The best of the latter concerns Levinson, the increasingly inebriated waiter (Steve Franken – “Westworld”, “Angels & Demons”). This is by far the best example of drunk acting I have ever seen, as we follow the waiter’s path from a furtive drink stealer to a lurching, oblivious wreck. His neck-ringing run-ins with the enraged head waiter (James Lanphier – “Experiment in Terror”) are sublime.

The Clutterbuck residence is a key component in the film, a technological marvel that still seems space-age by most people’s standards. An electrical wall panel provides ample comedy mileage as Bakshi experimentally flips switches to make floors and worktops retract, and boost fires and water features. Nobody is leaving this gathering without a proper soaking. Five years later, Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em echoed this film in the episode “Visiting the Brother-In-Law”, as a similarly gadget-strewn dwelling came off second best to Frank Spencer!

Lastly we have the household pets, a yappy small dog and a very vocal parrot that gives the movie one of its most memorable scenes as Bakshi feeds it ‘birdie num nums’, predictably before he scatters the rest all over the floor.

Fans of any of the comedy sources and icons mentioned above will surely love this film. Sellers is effortlessly loveable, the comic timing is impeccable and behind it all is a worthy message about character and integrity.

Special features on the disc include:

  • 1080p presentation
  • Original stereo PCM soundtrack
  • Inside “The Party” (24 min) – A behind the scenes featurette on the making of the film
  • “The Party” Revolution (16 min) – a featurette on the ground-breaking filming methods utilised in the film’s production
  • Blake Edwards Profile (6 min)
  • Associate Producer Ken Wales Profile (7 min)
  • Executive Producer Walter Mirisch Profile (4 min)
  • Original Theatrical Trailer (4 min)

As the second featurette reveals, this film was one of the first if not the first to use near-instant video reviewing of footage to aid the producers. As so much of the movie was improvised, Edwards demanded it to maintain continuity and perfect the comic timing. The Blu-ray’s picture quality is good rather than outstanding; it is very vibrant and the ambient sound captures the sense of being at the party brilliantly.

“The Party” (1968) is out now, courtesy of Eureka Entertainment Ltd. The main feature has a running time of 99 minutes approx, carries a ‘PG’ certificate and retails for £14.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com

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