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Tag Archives: Blake Edwards

Yes We Look At Another Peter Sellers Masterpiece: The Party (1968)

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.

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

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I can’t believe it took me this long to review a Pink Panther movie.

I can’t believe it took me this long to review a Pink Panther movie.

After looking over the site, I realized that I had not reviewed any of the Pink Panther movies.  Well than nonsense ends now.

Though my favorite Pink Panther movie is A Shot In The Dark, we will look at the Pink Panther Strikes Again because I had the pleasure of watching it with Dr. H.

In this one, former Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) is about to be released from a mental hospital– in which he has resided since being driven crazy by Clouseau– the very afternoon of his release hearing he is visited by none other than Clouseau.  Clouseau has come to speak on behalf of his former boss because he “is not without influence.”  When Clouseau is through `helping,’ his former boss, he is driven from the premises by the relapsed, stark raving mad Dreyfus.  And it’s only the first scene of the French Inspector’s antics that, before it is over, include a fantastic bout with Cato, a trip to Oktoberfest, encounters with a dozen hit-men from around the world, a beautiful Russian spy named Olga (Lesley-Anne Down), a surprise Egyptian spy and a one-man assault on a castle.

I know, some of you may be thinking “but J.P., the movie’s plot is totally absurd,” and yes you are correct.  Seller’s Clouseau requires a totally absurd plot to perform his laugh out loud style of comedy.  There was no end to the ways Sellers could make you laugh; from a subtle expression– an eye averted or perhaps the slight raising of an eyebrow– to the most overt slapstick, he was the master.  Physically, practically all he had to do to get a laugh was show up.  One of my favorite lines in movie history is when Clouseau is questioning the residents/staff of a manor and he has managed to get a mace stuck on his arm.  He swings at bee flying around and smashes a priceless Steinway piano–well its not one any more:

Clouseau:  “A beekeeper who has lost his voice, a cook who thinks he is a gardener and a witness to murder . . . Oh yes it is obvious to my trained eye that there is much more going on here than meets the ear . . . (swings a buzzing bee but smashes piano)  . . . before you are dismissed Mr. Stutterstutt, I suggest you count your bees, you may find that one of them is missing . . .”

Lady-Witness:  “You ruined that piano”

Clouseau:  “What is the price of one piano compared to the terrible crime that has been committed here?”

Lady-Witness: “But that is a priceless Steinway!”

Clouseau:  “Not any more.”

It may not look that great on paper, but watching Sellers perform it always makes me laugh.  I included this scene as one of the clips so enjoy.

The clips chosen are the longest I have put on the site since its creation.  I thought it was necessary because to really appreciate the humor you need to watch the entire scene.

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

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Dr. H and JP Look at “Operation Petticoat” what we dub as Humor In Uniform:

Dr. H and JP Look at “Operation Petticoat” what we dub as Humor In Uniform:

Operation Petticoat is an early (1959) a post WWII comedy directed by Blake Edwards (the Pink Panther Series, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Great Race, “10”, Victor/Victoria and others) filled with a cast that were either big names like Cary Grant or rising stars like Tony Curtis (Some Like it Hot), Marrion Ross (Happy Days) and Gavin MacLeod (the Love Boat) and others.  The movie could even be seen as an early attempt at bringing feminism to the big screen and the precursor to the rash of 1960’s sex comedies that soon followed.

The film story goes something like this, following the attack on Pearl Harbor the Japanese prepared to invade the American-occupied Philippine Islands.  During an air raid on the American naval base there almost sink the new submarine the “Sea Tiger.”  The boat’s insistent and professional commander, Matt Sherman – played by Cary Grant – wants to get the Sea Tiger operational at any cost.  After persuading the powers the be who give Sherman permission to make the Sea Tiger sea worthy, he and the remnants of the ships original crew (which has been decimated by transfers because the boat is considered sunken condition) succeeds in raising the sub from the harbor bottom and commence getting her seaworthy enough to escape to Australia before the pending Japanese assault.  Unfortunately the repair efforts are hampered by the bureaucratically-based shortage of necessary parts and supplies.  Enter Tony Curtis as Lt. Nick Holden; an accomplished back-alley smoke filled room deal cutter who joined the Navy to get into a nice uniform which he believes will land him a very wealthy wife.  Alas, having secured a cushy job as an admiral’s aid the sudden outbreak of the war results in all Mr. Holden’s carefully laid schemes sent completely awry.  Thus being at the end of his rope, Holden finds himself assigned as a replacement officer to the Sea Tiger.  Faced with the alternative of being stuck on Bataan to endure the certain Japanese onslaught, he sees it is in his best interest to make up for the seagoing experience he has managed to avoid by becoming the Sea Tiger’s Supply Officer and secures everything the captain needs to get “the . . . submarine” out of there and to someplace where he can get a better deal.

Holden implements his supply procurement program which at best is unorthodox and at worst just plain felonious.  Holden out does him self when he manages to “scavenge” five stranded Army nurses and convinces Cary Grant that he must take them aboard.  From then on the film becomes Cary Grant’s battle to get this backfiring-limping submarine to Australia while avoiding the “exchange of information” about the proverbial “birds and the bees” between the crew and their female guests.  Grant’s struggle becomes more and more complicated as the film moves on to the point where a maternity ward has to be opened on the Sea Tiger to accommodate its passengers.

For those who enjoy MASH (the movie), Stripes or the Russians are Coming this movie is a must see.  A perfect example of how a good comedy can be made without resorting to “blue humor” or three stooges like slap stick.  Fifty years later, the jokes a still witty and story remains fresh.  This film was also one of the first movies to inspire a TV spin-off.  In 1977 Operation Petticoat the TV. series aired starring none other than Jamie Lee Curtis who’s father, Tony Curtis, starred as one of the lead male roles in the 1959 movie.

Per Dr. H—This one is a rose for your bouquet.

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

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