- Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 108op/24
- Audio Codec: English Mono PCM 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit)
- Subtitles: English SDH
- Region: ABC (Region-Free)
- Classification: 12
- Discs: 2 (1 BD/1 DVD)
- Studio: BFI
- Blu-ray Release Date: May 17, 2010
- RRP: £19.99
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Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
The Party’s Over met an early demise at the box office due to its dark subject matter and a run in with the British film censors. It never actually made it to the screens in its original form, with 18 full minutes being shaved from its original cut before finally being allowed to see release with an “X” certification, but not before director Guy Hamilton (Intruder, Live and Let Die) pulled his name from the credits.
The story is about young American woman Melina (Louise Sorel) who comes to London and falls in with a group of rowdy beatniks known as “the Pack.” What happens from there is a downward spiral of wild parties, drink, drugs, and a shocking incident that leaves Melina’s American fiancé Carson (Clifford Davis) searching for her, completely stunned when the details of what happened come to the fore, and left the British Board of Film Censors in a twist.
The film is a typical 1960’s “Swinging London” exploitation film showing the wild youth culture that the British so feared. What makes The Party’s Over standout from the crowd, however, is the lack of moralizing and strong adult presence to centre and “tame” the youth, to pass judgment on the poor lost souls who would bring western civilization crashing down unless there was someone there to rein them in. Perhaps that, most of all, is what ran afoul of the censors.
Utilizing a cast of mostly unknown up and coming actors, besides the US veteran Eddie Albert as Melina’s father, The Party’s Over tapped into the energy of the youth culture and the beatniks true moral compass, perhaps more than anyone even realized at the time. Beyond the surface of partying and headline grabbing debauchery that exploitation films all fed into at the time, The Party’s Over had its moments of true inner strife for some of the characters, such as the Pack’s leader Moise, in the end, coming to grips with horrific act that he wanted to stop but failed to and realizing, perhaps, he actually had a respect for Melina’s father, this older gentleman that he was supposed to distrust. It is that sort of redemption that, in 1965, the beatniks were never granted in the press, but they were offered in the original cut of The Party’s Over.
The pre-release version that is featured on this release is still not, in fact, a director approved cut of the film, but it is an earlier, pre-theatrical release that most closely resembles what Guy Hamilton intended, before the censors and butchers wiped out any sense of the film’s original meaning with that crucial 18 minute swipe. It is now time to reassess this long-forgotten film.
The Party’s Over was transferred in high definition from 35mm picture and sound negatives of the theatrical release version and a 35mm combined print of the pre-release version, both held at the BFI National Archive.
The pre-release version was produced by combining footage from both the negative and the print. On the Blu-ray the assembly is made through seamless branching technology, while on the DVD, a complete standard definition edit was produced.
The picture was restored using HD-DVNR and MTI restoration systems, removing dirt, scratches, and warps, repairing damaged frames and improving stability issues.
The Party’s Over appears on the Blu-ray in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio in an AVC/MPEG-4 encoding. The end result of the restoration is a relatively clean and detailed picture with film grain still present and deep, stable black levels. Shadow detail is strong and contrast is extended without clipping. The added scenes in the pre-release version show the most wear and source damage, but it is not much of a hindrance to the overall presentation, all things considered.
Audio appears in an English Mono PCM 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit) soundtrack. There are some slight crackle and hiss audible, but this is natural and to be expected for a soundtrack from this period. The sound is nicely balanced with intelligible dialogue and surprisingly full effects.
As to be expected, the BFI offer up a selection of interesting supplements for The Party’s Over, including two short films expanding on the feature’s theme and an excellent booklet with in depth essays that will surely grant a deeper insight into the film.
The supplements provided with this release are:
- Original Theatrical Cut (Blu-ray Only; 92 minutes)
- Theatrical Release sequences (DVD only; 18 minutes)
- The Party (R A Ostwald; 1962; 1.33:1; 1080p/24; 16 minutes) — A time-capsule short about an art school get-together.
- Emma (Anthony Perry; 1964, 1.33:1; 10809/24; 12 minutes) — An expressive meditation on the loss of innocence from the producer of The Party’s Over.
- Booklet: Fully illustrated with contributions by Guy Hamilton, Andrew Roberts, William Fowler, and Vic Pratt.
The Definitive Word
The party was over indeed, with this dark and brutal Swinging London drama from Guy Hamilton that has been resurrected from the archives by the BFI and restored to something more closely resembling what the director originally intended. It looks and sounds great and is well worth a viewing.
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