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Film / The Party

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"Num num. Num num. Birdie num num."
Hrundi V. Bakshi, speaking into a live intercom

The Party is a keen little comedy from 1968 taking place almost solely at a Hollywood party, and for 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 writer-director Blake Edwards and actor Peter Sellers, the duo largely responsible for the hit Pink Panther series. As such, The Party has much the same style of humor and storytelling.

Sellers plays a well-meaning but highly accident-prone Indian actor named Hrundi V. Bakshi. After inadvertently blowing up a movie set, Bakshi is marked for blacklisting by the head of the studio, but due to a misunderstanding is accidentally placed on the invitation list for an A-list dinner party being held at the studio head's swank Hollywood mansion.

From the moment of Bakshi's arrival at the party, it's one hilarious 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. Not to be confused with the 2017 British dramedy film by Sally Potter.

This work contains examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: During the scene in which Bakshi wrecks the upstairs bathroom, the band downstairs can be heard playing "It Had Better Be Tonight," which was originally used by Henry Mancini as both a vocal and instrumental cue in The Pink Panther (1963). In addition, a stuffed Pink Panther doll can be seen sitting on the chest of drawers in the boys' bedroom.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Brownface: Peter Sellers playing an Indian man.
  • Celebrity Is Overrated: This is the ultimate opinion of the sweet French girl, Michele.
  • Character Catchphrase: The above "Birdie Num Num," and also “How-dy Partiner!”
  • Cool Car: Hrundi's car is a vintage three-wheeled Morgan, which is meant as a contrast to the stylish contemporary autos of the other party guests. Of course, such Morgans are valuable to classic collectors.
  • 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.
  • Cringe Comedy: Hrundi walks from one awkward situation to another. Hilarity Ensues.
  • 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.
  • The Fool: Hrundi V. Bakshi. Though he is wise, he could not be more of a ditz.
  • Funny Background Event: There's a Running Gag in the film involving a waiter who keeps sneaking drinks whenever someone refuses one. During the "seat change" sequence at the dinner table, the actor Kelso (who crushed Bakshi's hand earlier) spots him sneaking drinks, and calls him out. But there's so much going on in this scene, it's easy to miss the first time.
  • 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.
  • Lady Drunk: The blonde in the purple off shoulder dress.
  • Life of the Party: What Hrundi becomes, somewhat unwittingly.
  • Multiple Gunshot Death: How Hrundi (playing Gunga Din In-Universe) is supposed to "die" in the opening sequence. The shot is completely ruined when he refuses to stop playing, even when every single extra with a gun is using him as target practice in an attempt to make him stop.
  • Nice Guy: Hrundi is kind-hearted, polite and caring. Despite all the chaos he causes he never means to do any harm and many of the "accidents" he's involved in are not even his fault.
  • 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.
  • Plunger Detonator: Resting his foot on one of these was how Hrundi blew up the movie set.
  • Potty Emergency: Hrundi undergoes this as he struggles to find an available bathroom in the big mansion.
  • 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 to 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.
  • Shout-Out: The opening sequence is an In-Universe filming of Gunga Din (either a remake of this film or a new film based on Kipling's book).
  • 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.
  • The Teetotaler: Hrundi. He keeps refusing alcoholic beverages when offered to him at the party, even when the (drunk) waiter pours wine over his hand. When he's coerced to drink alcohol to warm up after he fell into the pool it's shown that he has a very low tolerance for it since he never drinks.
  • 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.