A Movie A Day: Quint returns with THE PARTY (1968)
Birdie num-num? Birdie num-num. Birdie num-num…
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection or from my DVR and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.]
And we’re back after my first weekend off in almost 7 months… and it’s not like I got to spend it relaxing. I begin writing up THE PARTY while waiting for my third of three flights, my final layover after 16 ½ hours of travel which began 3 hours after BNAT ended. I slept sporadically on the incredibly full flight to my secret destination, but am awake enough to begin typing this sucka up.
If you’ve been wondering what’s up, I had to pause the column Friday because of Butt-Numb-A-Thon and this travel. I could have worked around one or the other, but overseas travel prep, BNAT and the pick-ups and dinners with out of town folk all made it impossible for me.
I did get to watch a good amount of the movies in advance, so I can pick this up now and not when I get back from my secret adventure.
THE PARTY marks the third of four flicks in our Peter-Sellers-A-Thon following up BEING THERE and WHAT’S NEW PUSSYCAT? and also marks a reteaming with his PINK PANTHER director Blake Edwards.
When the film began, I had to stop and check the case to make sure I hadn’t mistakenly put another DVD into the player. Before I could crack the plastic case, a thought was sent from the “Don’t be a fucking moron” section of my brain containing an image of the DVD menu I had just seen seconds ago with THE PARTY featured really big.
The movie opens as an epic war movie, featuring big sweeping army-in-the-desert shots, a gunfight featuring gatling guns and rifles, explosions… Then an Indian man runs up, covered in blood. He’s a trumpeter and has quite clearly been shot. He’s shot again as he bugals triumphantly and slowly falls, still trumpeting. Then he rises again, trumpet still blazing. He’s shot again and sinks, the trumpet trailing away comically… then starting up again.
After a couple of more up and downs, his own army turns around and shoots the shit out of him until he’s on the ground trumpeting in comedic bursts.
Then CUT is called and it’s all revealed to be a movie within a movie and the Indian man is Peter Sellers, playing Hrundi V. Bakshi a young Indian actor who is getting his big shot in this picture. It’s a bit part, but the director likes the idea of the added realism of casting out of India for this role.
Of course, Hrundi is a bungling bunglepants and inadvertently sets off a major explosives gag that is costly enough to derail the picture in a major way. He’s fired, told he’ll never work in this business again and reported to the studio head, who confirms he will blacklist this poor man, making sure to get his name right and everything.
Too bad for him, he mistakenly makes this note on a piece of paper containing the guest list for a big party the exec and his wife are throwing. Hes secretary assumes the name is a late addition and digs up the information on this Hrundi Bakshi, inviting him to this party.
That’s the plot and it all happens in the first 15 minutes. There’s character work to be sure, but the plot is essentially Let’s See What Happens When We Put Peter Sellers Playing A Bumbling Indian Man At An Elite Hollywood Party And Watch Him Go Cah-Ray-Zee!
Luckily, Sellers isn’t the only character at the party. There’s also a scene-stealing alcoholic waiter that fucks up just as bad as Sellers does.
Sellers can play the lovable goof very well and has the Indian accent down. Just like his Chinese accent in movies like MURDER BY DEATH it’s not 100% true to life, a tad exaggerated, but stops short of being offensive. This character isn’t a stereotype, the Indian background only supporting the Fish Out Of Water storyline. He’s not clutzy or goofy because he’s Indian, he’s clutzy and goofy because that’s his character.
But I do think Fisher Stevens completely stole the accent’s rhythm and emphasis for SHORT CIRCUIT.
The Party is filled with every type of person… there’s a tall cowboy actor (supposed to be a John Wayne type, maybe?) who loves the idol worship coming from Hrundi and views him as his little buddy, there’s the grumpy Exec, his hostess wife, the aforementioned alkie waiter, a pretty young French girl who wants to be an actress, guest of the leacherous director who fired Hrundi off of the movie, the Exec’s hippie teenage daughter, her hippie pals, an elephant and tons of bubbles.
Claudine Longet plays the young French actress and she is adorable. Hrundi and her quickly develop a little something something, much to the displeasure of the director who already feels like he knows and dislikes this strange Indian dude from somewhere, but can’t place him.
Just as you’d expect from the Sellers/Edwards team the whole situation grows more and more out of control until an explosive finale, but what I didn’t expect was a genuinely sweet little love story between Sellers and Longet. The final scene between them is incredibly effective… sweet, but not saccharine.
Final Thoughts: The Party is a very cute, very entertaining flick. It might not hold up as an immediate classic like the better Sellers/Edwards PANTHER movies (mostly due to the lack of stand-out side performances… I loved the waiter, but he never reached Herbert Lom-like levels of brilliance), but the end result is a massively enjoyable flick, showcasing a master at the peak of his talent.
Here’s what we have lined up for the next week:
Thursday, December 18th: CASINO ROYALE (1967)
Friday, December 19th: THE STRANGER (1946)
Saturday, December 20th: BROTHER ORCHID (1940)
Sunday, December 21th: THE PETRIFIED FOREST (1936)
Monday, December 22th: MOONTIDE (1942)
Tuesday, December 23th: NOTORIOUS (1946)
Wednesday, December 24th: THE INN OF THE SIXTH HAPPINESS (1958)
That’s the next week. I travel back to the states this weekend, so there might be another interruption to the column, but I’ll do my best to avoid another break. The internet situation here is also sketchy, but I’ll make my best effort to keep it going uninterrupted from this point on. Thanks for sticking with it! See you tomorrow for another Sellers ball of entertainment: CASINO ROYALE!
June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast a Giant Shadow
July 23rd: Out of the Past
July 24th: The Big Steal
July 25th: Where Danger Lives
July 26th: Crossfire
July 27th: Ricco, The Mean Machine
July 28th: In Harm’s Way
July 29th: Firecreek
July 30th: The Cheyenne Social Club
July 31st: The Man Who Knew Too Much
August 1st: The Spirit of St. Louis
August 2nd: Von Ryan’s Express
August 3rd: Can-Can
August 4th: Desperate Characters
August 5th: The Possession of Joel Delaney
August 6th: Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx
August 7th: Start the Revolution Without Me
August 8th: Hell Is A City
August 9th: The Pied Piper
August 10th: Partners
August 11th: Barry Lyndon
August 12th: The Skull
August 13th: The Hellfire Club
August 14th: Blood of the Vampire
August 15th: Terror of the Tongs
August 16th: Pirates of Blood River
August 17th: The Devil-Ship Pirates
August 18th: Jess Franco’s Count Dracula
August 19th: Dracula A.D. 1972
August 20th: The Stranglers of Bombay
August 21st: Man, Woman & Child
August 22nd: The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane
August 23rd: The Young Philadelphians
August 24th: The Rack
August 25th: Until They Sail
August 26th: Somebody Up There Likes Me
August 27th: The Set-Up
August 28th: The Devil & Daniel Webster
August 29th: Cat People
August 30th: The Curse of the Cat People
August 31st: The 7th Victim
September 1st: The Ghost Ship
September 2nd: Isle of the Dead
September 3rd: Bedlam
September 4th: Black Sabbath
September 5th: Black Sunday
September 6th: Twitch of the Death Nerve
September 7th: Tragic Ceremony
September 8th: Lisa & The Devil
September 9th: Baron Blood
September 10th: A Shot In The Dark
September 11th: The Pink Panther
September 12th: The Return of the Pink Panther
September 13th: The Pink Panther Strikes Again
September 14th: Revenge of the Pink Panther
September 15th: Trail of the Pink Panther
September 16th: The Real Glory
September 17th: The Winning of Barbara Worth
September 18th: The Cowboy and the Lady
September 19th: Dakota
September 20th: Red River
September 21st: Terminal Station
September 22nd: The Search
September 23rd: Act of Violence
September 24th: Houdini
September 25th: Money From Home
September 26th: Papa’s Delicate Condition
September 27th: Dillinger
September 28th: Battle of the Bulge
September 29th: Daisy Kenyon
September 30th: Laura
October 1st: The Dunwich Horror
October 2nd: Experiment In Terror
October 3rd: The Devil’s Rain
October 4th: Race With The Devil
October 5th: Salo, Or The 120 Days of Sodom
October 6th: Bad Dreams
October 7th: The House Where Evil Dwells
October 8th: Memories of Murder
October 9th: The Hunger
October 10th: I Saw What You Did
October 11th: I Spit On Your Grave
October 12th: Naked You Die
October 13th: The Wraith
October 14th: Silent Night, Bloody Night
October 15th: I Bury The Living
October 16th: The Beast Must Die
October 17th: Hellgate
October 18th: He Knows You’re Alone
October 19th: The Thing From Another World
October 20th: The Fall of the House of Usher
October 21st: Audrey Rose
October 22nd: Who Slew Auntie Roo?
October 23rd: Wait Until Dark
October 24th: Dead & Buried
October 25th: A Bucket of Blood
October 26th: The Bloodstained Shadow
October 27th: I, Madman
October 28th: Return to Horror High
October 29th: Die, Monster, Die
October 30th: Epidemic
October 31st: Student Bodies
November 1st: Black Widow
November 2nd: The Ghost & Mrs. Muir
November 3rd: Flying Tigers
November 4th: Executive Action
November 5th: The Busy Body
November 6th: It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World
November 7th: Libeled Lady
November 8th: Up The River
November 9th: Doctor Bull
November 10th: Judge Priest
November 11th: Ten Little Indians
November 12th: Murder On The Orient Express
November 13th: Daniel
November 14th: El Dorado
November 15th: The Gambler
November 16th: Once Upon A Time In America
November 17th: Salvador
November 18th: Best Seller
November 19th: The Holcroft Covenant
November 20th: Birdman of Alcatraz
November 21st: The Train
November 22nd: Gunfight At The O.K. Corral
November 23rd: Mystery Street
November 24th: Border Incident
November 25th: The Tin Star
November 26th: On The Beach
November 27th: Twelve O’Clock High
November 28th: Gentleman’s Agreement
November 29th: Panic In The Streets
November 30th: The Hot Rock
December 1st: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
December 2nd: The Day of the Dolphin
December 3rd: Carnal Knowledge
December 4th: The Cincinnati Kid
December 5th: Pocketful of Miracles
December 6th: Mikey & Nicky
December 7th: Two-Minute Warning
December 8th: The Sentinel
December 9th: How To Steal A Million
December 10th: What’s New Pussycat?
December 11th: Being There
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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Dec. 17, 2008, 11:16 p.m. CST
Give it a good review and you've got a sporting chance, me old China!
Dec. 17, 2008, 11:16 p.m. CST
I watched The Party years ago at the suggestion of my mom, who saw it in the theater during its first run and said she couldn't stop laughing. This is a movie that just keeps building up the crazy until it can contain itself no longer. And I've always thought that Peter Sellers played an Indian quite well.
Dec. 17, 2008, 11:16 p.m. CST
I meant to say: The Inn of the Sixth Happiness is me ma's favourite movie.<p> That's what too much egg nog will do to ya, kids!
Dec. 17, 2008, 11:17 p.m. CST
We missed ya......by the way, where is Harry's DVD section - surely we should have a blu ray review of TDK by now? Oh yeah, and those all important xmas releases.<br> Keep up the good work tho Quint
Dec. 17, 2008, 11:30 p.m. CST
Blake Edwards forfeited Laurel and Hardy's subtlety. By the way, AFTER THE FOX is Sellers' sleeper (Victor Mature is side-splitting, too).
Dec. 18, 2008, 12:09 a.m. CST
I catch it at work whenever possible, even with my boss looking over my shoulder, like right NOW...
Dec. 18, 2008, 12:41 a.m. CST
And we missed you, but dude, you got shit to do!<p> Well, this week you've turned me onto looking at a few Peter Sellers Movies I've avoided because of the misconception that they were 1960's crap.<p>
Dec. 18, 2008, 12:44 a.m. CST
Can be seen for free-unedited (with commercial interruptions)on www.hulu.com
Dec. 18, 2008, 1:56 a.m. CST
Does that include television, sir?
Dec. 18, 2008, 2:23 a.m. CST
dont end it with casino royale man just erase the others after, even if they're good movies, fuck em, SELLRS RULES ALL!!
Dec. 18, 2008, 2:35 a.m. CST
There is so much funny in this film. First thing that jumps to my mind is the mess that guy makes of the bathroom. Okay, not as disgusting as it sounds. The drunken waiter was funny but also one of the problems I had with the film. To me the point of the thing should be that this crazy character turns to chaos what would otherwise have been a regular old party. But that isn't really the case because even without Peter Seller's character the waiter would still have mucked it up. And you have this slow build of trouble on trouble caused by Peter S mainly and then instead of it blowing all apart because of him... instead at the end it all goes crazy due to this left field bunch of madness having nothing to do with him. Like with the waiter, the party would have been messed up even without his character showing up. The waiter and that ending bit for me undercut the whole larger joke of the film. That said, even if the big picture joke of the film was undercut, almost any smaller bit in the movie is hilarious.
Dec. 18, 2008, 2:39 a.m. CST
by Mr Nicholas
Dec. 18, 2008, 2:41 a.m. CST
One of THE best ensemble comedies ever. I love it for its pure wackiness and the brilliance of its performers (especially Peter Falk!). <p> Just curious Quint, have you ever seen "The Big Bus"? I don't know why, but for some reason you got me thinking of that movie. If you haven't seen it, add it to your list please. I want to know if someone else thinks it is an unappreciated gem or a piece of crap.
Dec. 18, 2008, 3:15 a.m. CST
... it's way better than any Pink Panther movie, and one of Edwards' best movies. You should be checking out "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers" quite soon, too, by the way. It seems that Edwards and Sellers loved/hated/needed each other continuously.
Dec. 18, 2008, 3:41 a.m. CST
by Pondscum is Banned
Or better yet, get Mike Meyers and call it Love Guru 2. <P> If people are chucking in their AMAD requests, can I put forward Red Rock West starring Nicholas Cage and Dennis Hopper? Unless of course you've already reviewed it, in which case, I'll shut the hell up.
Dec. 18, 2008, 3:51 a.m. CST
You are not alone Continentalop. ^^
Dec. 18, 2008, 4:15 a.m. CST
I love this movie since the first time I've seen it, about 15 years ago. A classic in comedy. A tiddy bit dated, maybe, but VERY enjoyable by today's standards. One of the films you HAVE to see. Oh, and why not move to Dr. Strangelove before Casino Royale?
Dec. 18, 2008, 5:23 a.m. CST
Damn You Michael Bay
Dec. 18, 2008, 6:37 a.m. CST
by most excellent ninja
Dec. 18, 2008, 8:03 a.m. CST
Nice having this column back. Have fun wherever you are. Glad you enjoyed THE PARTY. I agree with your take on it. Sellers is the man. Also looking forward to your take on Notorious and the mini Ingrid Bergman fest coming up. May I recommend Autumn Sonata. One of Ingrid's last films and her only pairing with fellow countryman Ingmar. Bergman meets Bergman... a sublime treat.
Dec. 18, 2008, 8:25 a.m. CST
Sellers' genious on display here again. Love this character.
Dec. 18, 2008, 8:52 a.m. CST
yet still road off with the girl in the cool car.
Dec. 18, 2008, 9:24 a.m. CST
"I am not your sugar"<p>"I would have been disappointed had you not crushed my hand"<p>Is this your elephant?"<p>from the trailer "If you've ever been to a wilder party, you're under arrest".<p>Wasn't until the credits I realized the actresses' date (was he the director or producer?) was Gavin MacLeod.
Dec. 18, 2008, 9:46 a.m. CST
OMG, does that bring back memories. "Watch out, he's got a broken candle!" Glad to see you back, Quint!
Dec. 18, 2008, 9:59 a.m. CST
The first time I ever heard anything about this movie was when my family'd gotten a cat, and my father kept calling the cat food "num-nums". I asked him where he'd gotten that from; he marched me to the car and we immediately rented "The Party". This is one of my favorite Sellers films ("Murder by Death" being the other one) and it's extremely entertaining. Thanks for giving this fine movie its due.
Dec. 18, 2008, 10:05 a.m. CST
by Coma Baby
Since this was a 60s movie, I was really surprised that the humour came from Sellers as a funny, bumbling character who happened to be Indian, rather than Sellers just doing a broad stereotype. I'm sure lots of people would disagree, but I think it's a little funnier than the first two Panther films (the only two I've seen). Claudine Longet is adorable and her and Seller's characters are likable enough to keep you caring about the movie even when it gets completely nutty. Maybe it's that likability that puts it over the Pink Panther films for me.
Dec. 18, 2008, 10:50 a.m. CST
In The Party the Cowboy actor character is named 'Wyoming Bill' Kelso-- In Spielberg's 1941 John Belushi's character is called Capt. Wild Bill Kelso...
Dec. 18, 2008, 11:23 a.m. CST
by Grand Moff Toht
This sequence spoofs the ending of Gunga Din (1939) where Sam Jaffe as an Indian regimental water boy for the British climbs atop a spire to blow the bugle and warn a British column of an ambush planned by a Thug army. Great movie, and if you've seen it, then the Sellers send up of Gunga Din is even more hilarious. Still my favorite part of The Party. Haven't seen it in years, but remember it slowing down a bit as it delved into the Claudine Longet story... didn't she shoot someone in the '70s?
Dec. 18, 2008, 11:37 a.m. CST
What's New Pussycat and Casino Royale are 60's crap. The other two are good.
Dec. 18, 2008, 11:37 a.m. CST
by Lenny Nero
...what movie is that from?
Dec. 18, 2008, 1:05 p.m. CST
but you know that already. Woody Allen is hi fucking larious in it, though, for his two minutes.
Dec. 18, 2008, 2:58 p.m. CST
...the waiter was Steven Franken, who played the snotty rich mamma's boy Chatsworth Osborne on the "Dobie Gillis" TV series(a role briefly played and vacated by Warren Beatty!)..and the cowboy was Denny Miller...who was Tarzan in MGM's direct remake of their Weismuller movie (with color-tinted footage from the original!)and had a minor career in TV commercials...playing the Gorton's fisherman.
Dec. 18, 2008, 4:02 p.m. CST
by Jonas Grumpy
"The Beverly Hillbillies"?
Dec. 18, 2008, 4:05 p.m. CST
by Jonas Grumpy
Denny Miller was also the surfer from "Gilligan's Island." You know, the one who rode that tsunami all the way to the island, then rode a reverse tsunami back to Hawaii. (He bonked his head upon arriving, keeping him from telling anyone about the castaways. One of the few times Gilligan didn't fuck up a rescue attempt.) <BR><BR>He also played the actor pretending to be an "ape man" on a different episode of that series. Sad that I know all this without having to look it up first.
Dec. 18, 2008, 7:08 p.m. CST
by Billy Goat
When I was a kid, the morning DJ on WBZ in Boston used to play this scene on the air a lot. Even just as audio, it was frickin hilarious. <p> Though I've belted you and flayed you,<br>By the living God that made you,<br>You're a better man than I am,<br>Gunga Din.<p>bbbrrrrraaaaaapp... <p>Now I need to seek out this movie!
Dec. 18, 2008, 7:16 p.m. CST
by Billy Goat
I just watched the scene on YouTube, it's not the same at all. The audio skit is from Firesign Theater.<p>Oh, Billy Goat, you done messed up again!
Dec. 18, 2008, 7:21 p.m. CST
by Billy Goat
Dec. 18, 2008, 9:37 p.m. CST
I am surprised few people have noticed the relation. That film is the core of what becomes Temple of Doom, same villians. Plus the whole Gunga/ Gungan water boy later used for Phantom Menace. It seems neglected and forgotten and the dang thing has Carey Grant in it.
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