The BFI have done another brilliant piece of work - this time with The Party's Over. The 'dual format', together with an excellent booklet, certainly give you every chance to compare versions and consider the absurdities of censorship (abeit at a distance of nearly 50 years. With The Party's Over, the censors seemed to be pandering to the Establishment in a predictable but particularly half-baked way. I wouldn't agree with Clive Saunders' review that the implications (and they are only implications - nothing is clearly seen - hence the 12 certificate) of the film are ever "somewhat nauseating". Nor would I say that it wasn't a film for the "faint-hearted", but I suppose it all depends on what you are used to. While not a fan of violence and gore, I am enthusiastic about many of the Italian Giallos of the late 60's and 70's, some of which are genuinely nauseating!
Oliver Reed plays a similar character to his Moise of The Party's Over, in two other great films of this period, both currently available on DVD: Michael Winner's (!!) The System, and Joseph Losey's, The Damned (a.k.a These Are The Damned). His performance in all three is at times mannered and theatrical...but absolutely fascinatingly so. It's also sincere and multi-layered.
The Party's Over does take a while to get going, at first we thought it might just be another silly, middle-class dropouts, mindlessly partying, waste of time; but it grew geometrically better as it went on, even developing an echo of the Rashomon, alternate viewpoints, structure. And I think that to say as Clive Saunders does (sorry Clive, but without reading your review I wouldn't have got around to writing one at all!) that the people show no compassion or emotion towards each other, misses the point. They are feigning not to care and when their feelings catch up with them, its then that they grow up...the party's over. This is the only implication that the film could be projecting that I would disagree with: that this feigning, this playing of roles, is a stage that one must grow out of and entirely reject. Many kinds of lifestyle can be equally valid, equally 'grown up'. Once the pose of this particular 'Party' is exposed, some of those 'Partying' may find a more conventional path, while others may find the truth beyond the pose.
There are only a few slight problems with the DVD (aside from the very sticky label sealing shut the case noted by some internet reviews - finally removable with white spirit...but best to slide the insert out first in case the white spirit gets under the case cover) which I'm sure were inavoidable: the audio volume fluctuations and some original picture damage. But with two interesting short films as well (Emma was especially entrancing), The Party's Over is worth every penny. The supporting players: Louise Sorel (believably enigmatic and distant - lending real weight to her fall) Ann Lynn and Clifford David, Catherine Woodville (borrowing Steed's bowler and umbrella?!!) Eddie Albert (bullying and bereft), even wonderful Geoff Randall (Mike Pratt) presumably just posing as a Cuban!? are all enjoyable. The real locations are great too - the midnight 'funeral' scene notably evocative. Watch it as soon as you can!