Brian De Palma Howard Thompson - Essay

Howard Thompson

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

With an unconventional technique, including quick-cut editing and speeded-up locomotion reminiscent of the old silent comedies, plus an impromptu flavoring, ["The Wedding Party"] starts extremely skittishly, levels off appealing and comes in a neat winner.

The opening chapter, with a formidable old country house swarming with wedding relatives and guests, bounces along with an arch, peppery detachment that gets a bit wearing, along with a frisky musical score heralding the humor. Some viewers may wonder if the writer-director-producer team—Cynthia Munroe, Brian de Palma and Wilford Leach—hasn't simply aimed its camera helter-skelter and let fly. Not at all.

The picture often verges on slapstick, and once or twice plunges in headfirst. A wonderfully funny and brash chase scene toward the end, with the reluctant bridegroom pursued by two pals, is pure Mack Sennett. And some of the wedding participants and their monologues seem overly caricaturized. But at about midpoint the human element begins to shine through….

Best of all is the exact middle sequence, when a hilarious premarriage banquet develops into a near-seduction scene upstairs between the tipsy bridegroom and the wallflower church organist, that can only be called endearing. The utterly natural flow and simplicity of this vignette, as sweet as it is comical, is the real pulse of the picture….

As newcomers to the feature film field, the independent team of Miss Munroe, Mr. Leach and Mr. de Palma … are welcome. They have created something fresh and funny.

Howard Thompson, "'The Wedding Party'," in The New York Times (© 1969 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), April 10, 1969 (and reprinted in The New York Times Film Reviews: 1969–1970, The New York Times Company & Arno Press, 1971, p. 28).