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The Wild Party

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Original title
The Wild Party
Running time
100 min.
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Walter Marks
Walter Marks
Walter Lassally
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Merchant Ivory Production / American International Pictures
Drama | Biography. Film In Film. 1920s
Synopsis / Plot
THE WILD PARTY is based on the 1926 narrative poem by Joseph Moncure March about a Greenwich Village party-turned-disaster. Director James Ivory sets the film in Hollywood at the mansion of silent-screen legend Jolly Grimm (James Coco). Grimm and his mistress, Queenie (Raquel Welch), are hoping that a big party given at their home to celebrate the finish of Grimm’s film will be the catalyst that revives his career. But Grimm’s alcoholism, the advent of talkies, and his failure to get a studio to distribute the film turn the party into something less than celebratory. Queenie entertains the affections of a new Hollywood heartthrob, Dale Sword (Perry King), while Grimm cavorts with a Mary Pickford-type ingenue. It has been suggested that the poem and movie are founded on events similar to the 1921 Fatty Arbuckle scandal.

Time also has a framing role in The Wild Party, shot soon after Autobiography of a Princess. It has a curious history, having been inspired by a blank-verse narrative poem of 1926 by Joseph Moncure March about a disastrous Greenwich Village party given by a vaudeville comic in his walk-up apartment. The lyricist Walter Marks saw in it the idea for a musical film, with the setting changed to Hollywood at the end of the silent-movie era. Shortly after the project was brought to Edgar Lansbury and Joseph Beruh, producers of Godspell and other Broadway musicals, Walter Marks's brother Peter discussed it with Ivory and mentioned that a director was needed. It was in this way that Ivory, as director, and Merchant, as coproducer with Lansbury and Beruh, were brought in. An important change was made in the script on which Ivory and Marks collaborated: the musical became a drama with music.
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