The Celluloid Pantry: Reel Parties

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It's party season! And to help you get into the spirit of things, this week at The Celluloid Pantry, we're taking a look at some deliciously memorable bashes from three classic films.

(This is only a start—tell us about your own favorite on-screen gathering!)

The Party (1968)

"Birdie num-nums."
Out-of-work actor Hrundi V. Bakshi (Peter Sellers, bottom right) has a talent for disaster. When, through an administrative error, he's invited to the exclusive soirée of a Hollywood bigwig, the situation soon spins out of control. Slapstick food gags abound here with a waiter who drinks more cocktails than he serves, a Cornish game hen that gets launched across the table onto a woman's hairpiece, and a shocked Hrundi unwittingly plunging his injured hand into a mound of shaved ice that happens to be filled with caviar. Through a series of mishaps, the accident-prone actor loses his shoe, only to later find it perched on a politely oblivious waiter's tray. Hrundi plucks the lost loafer from the hors d'oeuvres, nonchalantly remarking, "Well, I'm on a diet, but to hell with it."

The Thin Man (1934)
"Highballs and cocktails—the long and the short of it."
The liquor and one-liners flow freely at Nick (William Powell, center, left) and Nora Charles' (Myrna Loy, center, right) Christmas Eve celebration. Although Nick's now living the high life, the suave ex-detective hasn't forgotten his old streetwise colleagues, and the guest list includes a wide range of characters from his gumshoe past. When a convivial cop asks Nora if her husband's working on a case, she quips, "Yes—a case of scotch." (For more on Nick and Nora, including a cocktail recipe, see this previous post.)

Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
"I'm going to...feed you to the yak...just as soon as I finish this drink."
When girl-about-town, Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn, top left) invites her neighbor, the writer Paul "Fred" Varjak (George Peppard, top right) over for "drinks at six," he expects a quiet gathering. What Paul encounters instead is an army of guests packed into Holly's tiny New York City apartment, a kitchen brimming with bottles, and book shelves stacked with snacks. The libations flow (in one case a cocktail is used to extinguish a small fire on a woman's hat) as guest after guest arrives. Finally, a man enters carrying a large cardboard box filled with liquor and food. "Reinforcements!" announces Holly. (More on Holly's kitchen misadventures here.)


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Nora Maynard is a freelance writer based in New York City. Her recent work has appeared in Salon, Drunken Boat, and The Millions. She recently completed her ninth marathon and her first novel, Burnt Hill Road. Nora wrote for The Kitchn from 2006 to 2011.