The Party
MGM // Unrated // $19.98 // December 11, 2001
Review by Holly E. Ordway | posted December 23, 2001
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Graphical Version
Peter Sellers is Hrundi V. Bakshi, an Indian actor hoping to break into stardom in Hollywood. Unfortunately, he's good at inadvertently breaking just about anything else... and when he's accidentally invited to a Hollywood movie mogul's fancy dinner party, there's no telling what's going to happen.

The Party is an entertaining film that's as light and fluffy as the soapsuds that run rampant at a key moment in the movie. The 1968 film is completely a vehicle for Sellers, well-known already for his performances in The Pink Panther and other comic films. There's really no plot, per se. Once "the party" has begun, the narrative thread is simply "what new mess is he going to get himself into now?" In fact, the improvisational atmosphere has a basis in the way the film was created: starting with a script that was only half as long as a typical film script, director and co-writer Blake Edwards simply set up a variety of situations for Sellers to clown around in, and filmed the results. It's actually quite amusing, if a little disjointed.

What makes The Party fun to watch is largely the fact that the character of Hrundi is a sympathetic and likeable fellow, so we end up laughing with him rather than laughing at him. Sellers pulls it off by playing Hrundi absolutely straight. He's such an earnest fellow that the last thing on his mind is wreaking havoc at this party... but after a few scenes, we know all too well that not only is he going to get into difficulties despite his good intentions, but that those good intentions are themselves going to get him in the most absurd and amusing situations.

The Party has inadvertently gained a certain additional charm by virtue of its age. The decor, the clothing, the color schemes, even the lettering style simply scream "retro sixties look!" Of course, the really funny thing is that it's not "retro" at all... it's the genuine article! It's groovy, baby.

Video

The Party is halfway to being a really great-looking DVD. The anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer features bright, vivid colors that look accurate; there's no bleeding of even the brightest colors, and skin tones look natural as well. The contrast is also excellent. However, the print could have used some cleaning-up before the transfer was made: there's quite a bit of noise and minor print flaws (small scratches and flecks) in the image.

Audio

A comparison of the film's soundtrack to that of the trailer shows that the sound was cleaned up considerably for the DVD. While the trailer's sound is muddy and muffled, the sound for the movie is clean. The Dolby 2.0 track obviously doesn't have any surround effects, but the balance of background party-noise vs. a character's dialogue is handled well, with dialogue always clear.

Extras

The Party is just this side of being bare-bones, with only a theatrical trailer for the film included on the DVD.

Final thoughts

Depending on how big a fan you are of Peter Sellers, this could be either a good film to add to your collection, or a good rental. It's entertaining and fluffy, and has been treated decently in its DVD presentation, so I'd say that it's definitely worth checking out to watch at least once.


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