Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Party


Comedy is hard. Sometimes it works, and sometimes … Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers experimented here, with a large set and no real script, just a series of gags and a lot of improvisation. It was shot sequentially, so they could play off of what had been done the previous day. And I think that may be the problem. This sort of material has been done brilliantly by the likes of Chaplin and Keaton, but they rehearsed it, honed it, got the timing right. Sellers can be funny winging it with dialogue, but most of the time here he goes on too long. It’s funny how differently people react to comedy, though. The dramatic thrust of the movie is that it begins small, with situational humor, sight gags, all fairly civilized as Sellers, playing an extremely polite klutz from India, introduces little bits of mayhem among the mostly stuffy party guests. As the night progresses, things get larger and rowdier until it reaches the level of mayhem of the famous pie fight at the end of The Great Race, with huge clouds of soap bubbles, people falling into the pool over and over, and even a baby elephant. I read half a dozen reviews, about evenly divided. Some thought the beginning was funny, and the movie lost it at the end. The rest thought the first part was a snooze, and it only got going when the big gags happened. Go figure. Myself, I guess I liked the mayhem at the end better. I wasn’t howling with laughter during any of it, though.