Party, The (1968)

Party, The (1968)

“The picture was going fine until some idiot blew up the set.”

A bumbling, socially awkward Indian actor (Peter Sellers) accidentally invited to a Hollywood party causes increasing havoc — with support from a drunk butler (Steve Franken) — while developing a romantic friendship with an aspiring French musician (Claudine Longet) .

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Actors and Actresses
  • Blake Edwards Films
  • Comedy
  • Get Togethers and Reunions
  • Peter Sellers Films

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that “Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers teamed up for this almost forgotten non-Pink Panther comedy that contains some of the most hilarious sight gags in either’s career.” He adds that “in one of his greatest roles, Sellers is perfectly cast as the well-meaning but destructive Hrundi V. Bakshi”, who “can never take a hint…, is a mix of Hulot and Clouseau, and takes a back seat to neither”. He argues that “this would be a genuine comedy masterpiece if it didn’t fall apart about two thirds of the way through when the subtle humor suddenly becomes stupid and sloppy” — but he urges film fanatics to “by all means give it a look”. I’m mostly in agreement with Peary’s assessment of this film, which I was pleasantly surprised by during my revisit. One should be appropriately wary of white actors embodying people from other cultures and races, but Sellers does so respectfully and respectably, giving us a somewhat naive (though not stupid) man who may cause inadvertent chaos but simultaneously emanates genuine good-will. I agree that the “subtle humor” in the first two-thirds of the film are the best by far, with particular highlights the unexpected outcome of Sellers clinging a bit too closely to his cowboy-idol (Denny Miller), and Sellers having challenges with a toilet.

(I’m not a fan of the ongoing scenes involving Franken’s stupidly tippling manservant, which are are simply predictable.) The final act of the film, as things get increasingly wild, is surreal (check out the walking advertisement for a Flat Earth Society!):

… but an appropriate way to culminate this zany evening — and I love how musicians will keep playing no matter what…

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Peter Sellers as Hrundi V. Bakshi (nominated by Peary as one of the Best Actors of the Year in his Alternate Oscars)
  • Sellers’ star-struck interactions with a cowboy actor (Denny Miller)
  • Colorful sets
  • Henry Mancini’s score

Must See?
Yes, for Sellers’ performance, and as a mostly enjoyable comedy.



One thought on “Party, The (1968)

  1. Only for non-critical Sellers fans – but, even then, I wouldn’t recommend it.

    The only scene that (for me) works in this film is the sequence which opens it: the on-set filming of what appears to be a sort of homage to ‘Gunga Din’. Not that it’s wildly memorable but – compared to the rest of the film – it’s amusing, it works on its own terms, and Sellers’ timing is fine.

    After that, alas, it’s all downhill with very tired and often-forced humor. By the time I rewatched this film, it had been a long time since I’d seen it so I was at least looking forward to something light with Sellers. But I found it a very long and labored haul.

    Still, those content to be with Sellers may be more forgiving than I could be. I was bored.

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