The Party’s Over (1963) | Watch Oliver Reed’s mercurial performance in Guy Hamilton’s corrosive tale of Chelsea beatniks
‘Life is a cocktail all ready to mix… Live for the moment and drain every drop. When you’re really living, who knows when to stop‘. So sings Annie Ross over the closing credits of 1963’s The Party’s Over, part of the BFI’s Flipside collection, which is now also available to stream on BFI Player (£3.50/£2.98).
What’s not to like about Bond director Guy Hamilton’s once hard-to-find gem: the hip Chelsea locations, the cool John Barry jazz score, a script littered with juicy one liners about youth, rebellion, politics and revolution; and Oliver Reed doing what he always does best – drink, smoke and act so goddam cool. Oh, those were the days.
The film also famously earned the wrath of the British censor over its supposed corrosive impact on youth and was denied a certificate. Rank ended up selling the film, which was then re-cut (in 1965) as a crude exploitation thriller that the filmmakers disowned as a ‘a nasty, smutty tale with no point or purpose.’ The BFI’s Flipside release, however, is the original theatrical release.
Future Days of Our Lives soap star Louise Sorel plays chic American Melina, who falls in with Oliver Reed’s wild partying beatnik gang (all upper middle class layabouts) to escape her wealthy controlling father (Eddie Albert). When her fiancé Carson (Clifford David) arrives from the US, she refuses to see him.
Undeterred by her cat and mouse antics, Carson moves into the gang’s digs (the famed Pheasantry at 152 King’s Road) to wait it out. But when it looks as though Melina has skipped town, Carson soon finds himself falling for the charms of Nina (one-time Star Trek actress Katherine Woodville).
The sudden suicide of one of the gang and the arrival of Melina’s father sparks a dark turn, but the party really is over when the shocking, awful truth about what happened to Melina is slowly revealed (Its a twist that, even now, is truly disturbing).
For a nostalgic trip into the dark side of Swinging 1960s London, The Party’s Over is a definite must-have, and a forgotten classic that so deserves to be elevated to the status it rightfully deserves.
Posted on May 3, 2014, in British Film, Classic, Cult classic, Must-See and tagged BFI Flipside, British Film, Chelsea beatniks, Classic, Eddie Albert, Guy Hamilton, John Barry, Katherine Woodville, London, Louise Sorel, Must See, Oliver Reed, Swinging 1960s. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.