ANDPOP’s Sarah Khan hopes to expand your film repertoire as she tackles some of the best little known films in the new bi-weekly column, “Blink And You’ll Miss It.” This week, she tells you why Blake Edwards’ The Party is one film you shouldn’t overlook.
What It Is: Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers pairing up again in one of the funniest movies ever made (in my humble opinion).
The Party is about –you guessed it! – a party which takes place at the home of a Hollywood bigwig. Peter Sellers plays Hrundi V. Bakshi, an Indian actor who seems to always be followed by a trail of disaster. One such calamity leads him to becoming blacklisted in Hollywood, but thanks to a hilarious mix up, Bakshi’s name is instead added to the guest list of a lavish Hollywood party.
Being new to America and seemingly with a penchant for catastrophe, it isn’t long before Baksh draws the attention of all the guests with his side-splitting antics derived from his ignorance of Western culture.
Why You Probably Missed It: This movie isn’t really any example of genius storytelling. It’s mostly a stage for sight gags and to show off Sellers’ amazing improvisational talents. Made after Sellers had established himself with critical hits like The Pink Panther (which Edwards also directed) and Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, the movie didn’t really deliver anything new to viewers.
It was also made nearing the tail end of Sellers’ career and was largely forgotten especially after the Pink Panther sequels came around which led to Sellers being forever associated with the bumbling Inspector Clouseau.
Because the character of Hrundi V. Bakshi is Indian and Peter Seller was British, Sellers donned brown make up and took up a stereotypical Indian accent. This probably wouldn’t be acceptable today, but the only thing his being Indian contributes to the plot is that Indian culture is seen as a polar opposite to American culture. I’m not really surprised this movie isn’t any more popular today considering everyone’s preoccupation with race and culture, but speaking as someone of South Asian decent, I find don’t think there’s anything even remotely insulting here.
Why You Should See It: Like I said, it is literally the funniest thing I’ve ever seen and that’s coming from a massive Marx Brothers fan! Everyone knows Peter Sellers was a comic genius, but with this movie his creativity was allowed to flow freely and the results are spectacular.
From Bakshi’s clogging up the master bedroom toilet to feeding a parrot its “Birdie Num Num” to a massive foam party, this movie is non stop eccentricity from beginning to end. While there isn’t much of a plot to the film, there is a vague story in there which has an open-ended conclusion.
If you’ve never watched a Peter Sellers movie before, this is the ideal one with which to start. And if you’re well-versed with Sellers, then you’ll definitely not want to miss this hidden gem.
Watch the trailer for The Party below: