Here's a movie which, on paper, couldn't have sounded like a good idea.
Peter Sellers playing an Indian guy in a film where basically nothing in the way of a plot happens?
Luckily, with Blake Edwards directing, Sellers' slapstick genius at its peak and that kitsch 60's charm in full force, The Party manages to not only recapture some of that Pink Panther magic but work completely as its own concept movie. The concept being that pretty much the entire film takes place during a party in one single location: a giant fancy Hollywood home complete with parrots, defective toilets, button-operated furniture, alcoholic waiters and many more things conveniently designed to give Peter Sellers' candid character plenty to trip on, fall into or mistakenly destroy.
Hrundi V. Bakshi (Sellers) is a bumbling film extra who accidentally explodes a set he's working on and is soon told he'll never work in Hollywood again. Through a clerical error, however, instead of being s*** listed, he is invited to a high-end party and what follows is his "journey" through said event. The film is pretty much all improvised as it was famously based on a short outline with every scene being shot in sequence and building upon each other. This adds a feeling that anything could happen during this party which is refreshing and oddly gripping. It's almost like some kind of art project or Alfred Hitchcock's Rope where the concept is its own character, but with extra "birdy num nums".
Fans of Sellers' classic brand of comedy will love The Party as he does some of his best and funniest work here, often in more subtle ways than you'd expect. Yes him playing an Indian character is controversial by today's standards but, though he is being stereotypical, you never feel like the film is taking the piss of Indian people. In fact, Hrundi is extremely likeable, much more so than most of the American guests at this party. That said, having him claim to defend the honour of a baby elephant at the end of the film just before it (and the entire cast) get covered in water and foam as people scream and shout all around the painted animal and start riding it around the set was probably not the best move in retrospect.
The Party remains a must-see as it's one comedy experiment that shouldn't have worked at all but somehow does brilliantly. Sellers is very funny throughout and the film is further proof that no-one films a party like the great Blake Edwards.
A slapstick gem.