Thursday, October 06, 2005

THE PARTY (1968) - Blake Edwards

…or the one in which Sellers plays a bumbling low-level actor / extra from India mistakenly invited to a swank Hollywood party and then proceeds to destroy the place.
 
That’s about all you need to know, plot-wise. Because that’s about all there is. Which is fine since the best thing about The Party is its slapstick, Sellers doing pure physical comedy. And there are some great bits involving Sellers’ shoe disappearing down the in-house moat, a control panel for a huge fireplace and revolving bar he keeps futzing with, and even a new spin on the old classic overflowing toilet routine.
 
But the problem with The Party is the same problem that plagues most actual Hollywood parties – when people open their mouths. The dialogue sucks, and so does the small talk. This movie would have played better as a silent film. Either that, or there should have been some more razz-a-ma-tazz in the overheard conversations, or in Sellers’ actual conversations with the other party guests. There’s a goldmine of opportunity for verbal tomfoolery that goes unexplored. After all, Sellers’ character is new-to-the-country and Hollywood, not even invited to the party, and pretty much a complete tool in the “cool department.” It’s like Blake Edwards brought the physical comedy salsa to the party, but totally forgot the dialogue chips with which to dip. As a result, you as an audience member end up standing around like a wallflower, hands in pockets, checking your watch and waiting for the next slapstick gag.

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