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“Num num. Num num. Birdie num num.”
—Peter Sellers as Hrundi V. Bakshi, speaking into a live intercom.
The Party is a keen little film from 1968 taking place almost solely at a Hollywood party, and in which most of the script was completely improvised.
While for the majority of film projects this would be a disaster, this film had two things going for it: It was a collaboration between Peter Sellers and Blake Edwards, the duo largely responsible for the hit Pink Panther series (pre-reboot). As such, The Party contains much the same style of humor and storytelling.
Peter Sellers play a well-meaning but accident prone Indian actor, Hrundi V. Bakshi. Due to a misunderstanding, after blowing up a movie set Mr. Bakshi is not blacklisted, but instead put on the invitations list for an A-list party at a Hollywood mansion.
From there, it’s one misstep after another; he confuses the partygoers, befriends his cowboy film star idol, has dinner on a footstool, breaks a toilet, meets a sweet French girl and saves her from a creepy agent’s advances, and finally helps wash an elephant with the help of the host’s hippie daughter, her friends, and a Russian ballet troupe, filling the entire mansion with soap bubbles. It’s less trippy than it sounds.
Said to be Elvis Presley's favorite film.
This work contains examples of:
- Affectionate Parody - The opening spoofs the climax of the Gunga Din movie.
- Ambulance Cut – Played for laughs near the end, after the hostess repeatedly falls off a balcony and into soap-filled water.
- Better Than It Sounds – Almost a whole movie taking place at one location? Minimal pre-planned script? Could very easily have been a bomb, but for the excellent team behind it.
- Big Fancy House – The location for the party itself, somewhere in Los Angeles. To give an impression of size and grandeur, the main rooms of the house are split by pools of water, some with fountains in them. Other features include several retractable bars, an intercom system, a full wait staff, and a fire pit, among other things. See also Cool House.
- Catch Phrase – “How-dy Partiner!”
- Celebrity Is Overrated – This is the ultimate opinion of the sweet French girl, Michele.
- Cool House – The house that the party takes place in has the main rooms separated by giant pools of water. To even come in the front entrance proper, you needs to cross a small bridge.
- Dance Party Ending – Not used at the end, but rather just after the climactic face-off scene between Hrundi and C.S. Divot.
- Disaster Dominoes - Once Hrundi relieves his Potty Emergency, he winds up setting these off in the fancy upstairs bathroom.
- Dodgy Toupee – C.S. Divot, the agent, when Hrundi catches him in the bathroom. In another instance, a woman’s hairpiece is removed in public after Hrundi’s pheasant dinner is thrown onto it, then retrieved (hairpiece and all) by a drunken waiter.
- Elephant in the Living Room – Literally. It becomes harder to avoid once they give it a bubble bath in the living room.
- Everything Sounds Sexier in French – There are many girls at the party, but who ends up with Hrundi at the end? Michele, the shy and sweet French girl with an accent.
- Exposition Party – Almost the entire movie, literally.
- Fake Nationality – Peter Sellers (An Englishman of English/Jewish/Portuguese descent) plays an Indian. There is Values Dissonance for modern viewers as a result. (The "Movies You May Have Missed" guys considered this for their first review of a Sellers movie, but were so uncomfortable with the dissonance that they chose to do Being There instead.)
- The Fool – Hrundi V. Bakshi. Though he is wise, he could not be more of a ditz.
- Granola Girl – The daughter of the party’s hosts, along with her friends.
- Happy Dance – After the serious climactic scene, Hrundi and Michele go downstairs and discover everyone dancing along with the Russian dance troupe. They join in with no particular planned dance in mind, and Hrundi in particular seems to just be moving to show how happy he feels.
- Horrible Hollywood – Mostly played straight.
- Improv – Most of the movie. The original script was only 56-60 pages.
- Life of the Party – What Hrundi becomes, somewhat unwittingly.
- Persona Non Grata – Hrundi was supposed to be forever banned from Hollywood for accidentally blowing up an entire movie set; his name was instead put on an invitation list for an A-list Hollywood party.
- Potty Emergency – Hrundi undergoes this.
- Rasputinian Death – The opening scene taking place on a movie set, during the filming of a shootout. Hrundi’s horn blower character is shot early on, but he keeps getting back up and blowing his horn. After a while the other actors have all ignored one another and are shooting at him, instead –- to no avail.
- Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic – As most of the dialogue is improvised, some of the script and most all of the constant background chatter is full of pauses and stutters. Though it at first may sound unnatural, the viewer is able to get used it a few scenes in.
- Rescue Romance – Hrundi comes upon Michele and her agent as she is struggling with him, and with the help of a toy air blaster gun stops the matter cold (without their knowing who did it). Later the agent happens upon Hrundi when he is talking alone with her. When the agent demands the girl leave with him, she refuses. Hrundi stands up for her, and the agent finally leaves in frustration.
- Rule of Pool – Hrundi almost falls into the pools around the house in several scenes, until he finally does. By the end of the party, nearly everyone is dunked somehow.
- Running Gag - The hijinks of a drunken waiter, and Hrundi's ability to very quickly distance himself from a blunder. There's something heartwarming about Hrundi and Michele doing this together in the last appearance of the gag.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man – In the end, the sweet French girl eyeing Hrundi throughout the film chooses to stay with him rather than go with her agent, even though it means being blacklisted from working in Hollywood.
- Spanner in the Works – Hrundi rescues Michele from the lustful agent, and what would have been a very depressing turn of events.
- Wild Teen Party – What the party turns into, once the host’s daughter and her friends show up with an elephant.
- The Wonka – Hrundi V. Bakshi. He is shown to be very knowledgeable about certain things, but his way of living life is completely foreign to most of the other partygoers.