(Blake Edwards, 1968)
Reviewed by Dave Lancaster
Summary: Accept this invite to one of the 1960s most refreshing and inventive comedies - The Party.
Director Blake Edwards and star Peter Sellers were at the top of their game after a string of Pink Panther pictures when they reteamed to make something both nostalgic and revolutionary.
Set almost entirely in a swanky film studio executive's hilltop home, the Party was a nod to those old silent comedies whereby the idea of fish-out-of-water characters responding to their alien surroundings via slapstick was the king medium for laughs.
It stars Peter Sellers (in brown face but with a convincing accent) as an accident-prone Indian actor who, after accidentally demolishing a major set piece, finds himself invited to a Hollywood networking party by mistake. The good-natured actor graciously accepts and proceeds to turn the stuffy, somewhat vulgar party on its head in a whirlwind of chaos. That's pretty much the whole plot.
So far, so nostalgic but the real innovation comes behind the camera. For the film, Edwards helped to progress the idea of using video-assist technology on a film set. It meant that the cast and crew could immediately watch their takes right there on the set instead of sending them off for processing and screenings.
What this allowed for was the ability to refine performances, movements and timings to perfection. What would have been a massive gamble is turned into something expertly pitched but also (thanks to Edwards and Sellers' acceptance of improvisation) something fresh and fluid.
The way that the slapstick evolves and spreads like wildfire is spectacular to watch while Sellers has rarely been this charming on film. The Party is exactly that: a friendly, free-flowing celebration and a meeting of minds.
A chamber comic masterpiece that distills Pink Panther director Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers to their slapstick roots, The Party is the place to be.
The Blu-ray via Eureka looks fantastic and has breathed new life into the film. The disc contains the same SD bonus materials from the old MGM double disc DVD (minus some vintage Sellers ads and interviews unfortunately). This upgrade comes warmly recommended.
Eureka Blu-ray features include:
- Gorgeous 1080p presentation of the film on Blu-ray
- Original stereo PCM soundtrack
- Optional English SDH subtitles
- The Party Revolution (16 mins) - a video piece on the groundbreaking filming methods used in the films production
- Inside The Party (24 mins) - A behind the scenes look at the making of the film
- Blake Edwards profile
- Walter Mirisch Profile
- Ken Wales Profile
- Original theatrical trailer