Sellers plays an Indian film actor who somehow was signed up to do a lead part in a Hollywood production called Son of Gunga Din. The Party (1968) opens as British Imperial forces c.1878 march through an Indian ravine; a wounded native deserter, Hrundi V. Bakshi (Sellers) climbs atop a ridge to bugle a charge. Since this is a set, the clumsy actor overdoes his role by not dying on cue. Instead he keeps using his bugle again and again and again until his own compatriots turn on him and begin to fire to move the process along. Later he ruins a shot where he kills an enemy guard by forgetting that he is still wearing his waterproof wristwatch even though the movie is set circa 1878. Finally, he wrecks the one and only chance of filming the exploding fort with dynamite by tying his shoe on the detonator-plunger.
Sellers is then “blacklisted” by the studio head who mistakenly writes Hrundi V. Bakshi’s name on to the guest list of a dinner party he and his wife are throwing. Sellers arrives at the party and quickly demonstrates the problems of inviting him. His shoe is muddy so he tries to casually clean it off in a pool where the clean water rapidly turns black but the shoe floats away. Using a tree to fish it out, the shoe ends up on a tray of canapés being served to the guests.
In the meantime the problems multiply during dinner when Sellers, the host and guests have to deal with a drunken waiter who serves Caesar salad using his bare hand instead of a utensil. During the main course, Bakshi’s roast Cornish game hen accidentally catapults off his fork and becomes impaled on a guest’s tiara. He asks the drunken waiter to retrieve his meal and the drunk man complies, unaware that the woman’s wig has come off along with her tiara, as she obliviously engages in conversation.
Bakshi innocently creates more havoc through many awkward encounters with inanimate objects: the house’s bizarre electronic panel is a too-tempting toy causing various appliance to turn on and off as well as broadcasting his voice throughout the house and feeding the parrot with spilling seeds is best recalled with the catch-phrase “Birdie num-num.” Sellers is clearly a fish out of water as he tries to laugh at jokes, not hearing them completely but laughing anyway, or laughing at anecdotes that aren’t funny. Everyone present compounds the evening’s disorder. The Party soon becomes a gaggle of career-hungry Hollywood fools preying on one another.
Edwards said the 63 page script for the Party was the shortest he ever worked with. Normally this might be a sign that you are in for a moronic movie (my guess is that many of today’s “blockbuster” action moviemakers would consider a 63 page script too long), but that is not the case. The Party is a brilliant and outrageously funny movie that you should see without delay.