Remember the cocktail party segment of television's "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In," where everybody in bell-bottoms and miniskirts danced to "hip" late-'60s music, pausing only long enough for somebody to tell a joke? Well, that's essentially the plot of "The Party," directed by Blake Edwards.
The team of comic genius Peter Sellers and Edwards brought to life one of the screen's most unforgettable characters, Inspector Clousseau, in 1964's "The Pink Panther" and "A Shot in the Dark." While the bumbling French detective went on hiatus until 1974's "The Return of the Pink Panther," the two men responsible ran smack into the peace and love movement.
"The Party," recently released on videocassette, is Edwards' flamboyant look at a chic Hollywood party circa 1968, and while it isn't as mean-spirited as his "S.O.B." (1981), it does take some pokes at the people who grease the star-making machinery. Its focus, however, is on Sellers as actor Hrundi V. Bakshi from India.
The movie's cleverest moment comes early on, when Bakshi, as the trumpeter in a "Gunga Din" remake, makes the most of his death scene, taking bullets from both the enemy and his own troops before sounding his last blast. After accidentally blowing up a fort before the director gives the signal, Bakshi is run off the set and told he'll never make another movie. "Does that include television, sir?" he responds.