Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Peter Sellers, Claudine Longet, Steve Franken, J. Edward McKinley, Carol Wayne, Marge Champion, Denny Miller, Gavin MacLeod
Written by: Blake Edwards, Tom Waldman, Frank Waldman
Directed by: Blake Edwards
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 99
Date: 04/04/1968
IMDB

The Party (1968)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Kicked in the Shindig

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

With The Party, Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers tread very close to Jacques Tati and Jerry Lewis territory, proving that, whereas those two filmmakers had a particularly singular vision of the world, Edwards and Sellers at least know how to be funny. In short, The Party isn't a great film, but it does deliver the laughs.

Sellers skirts very close to offensiveness with his portrayal of a doofus Indian (from India) actor, Hrundi V. Bakshi, covered in brown makeup, who accidentally blows up a set and destroys a production. The studio boss, meaning to add his name to a blacklist, accidentally adds him to an invitation list, and he shows up at a swanky, modern-day mansion, complete with indoor streams and electric bar-tops that slide in and out of the walls on command.

Our man goes through every kind of slapstick adventure in the house, trying to have a good time at the party while retrieving a shoe, sitting on a dinner table seat that's too short and too close to the kitchen door, and, messing up the bathroom, and of course, going into the water.

Tati and Lewis both found profound ways to use space and time to suggest something greater going on, some social subtext, but The Party is all surface. (It may have something to do with some Hollywood tropes or some 1960s-era stuff, but it hasn't aged as well as Tati and Lewis.) But, if you're just up for some laughs, and you love Sellers in his Pink Panther movies, this one will probably tickle you, too.

Kino Lorber released a Blu-ray edition in 2014. It comes with a few featurettes about the movie's production and its use of video playback to make sure the improvised comedy was working, as well as profiles of the filmmakers.

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