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.
THE WILD PARTY, inspired by a blank-verse 1926 narrative poem by Joseph Moncure March about a disastrous Greenwich Village party given by a vaudeville comic, stars Raquel Welch and James Coco as 1920s silent-screen Hollywood folk on the brink of career disaster who throw a decadent party to avoid looking over the precipice. The film is directed by James Ivory (ROOM WITH A VIEW), and focuses on his signature interest in characters grappling with societies undergoing rapidly changing times.
The film was shot on location at the Mission Inn in Riverside, California.
Lyricist Walter Marks envisioned Joseph Moncure March's poem as a musical and brought in Broadway producers Edgar Lansbury and Joseph Beruh, but when James Ivory took on the project he changed the musical to a drama with music.
The events of the poem and movie have been likened to the 1921 Fatty Arbuckle scandal in which Arbuckle was accused of murder following a party at his hotel suite.
The film itself was plagued by troubles. Ivory clashed with leading lady Welch, and after the film was finished, its distributor, displeased with the results, recut the film. Merchant-Ivory eventually bought back the rights to the film, and the original version, the director's cut, has been shown since 1981.
The poem was staged as musical drama on Broadway in 2000, starring Toni Colette (THE SIXTH SENSE) and Taye Diggs (THE BEST MAN). A separate production was also staged at the Manhattan Theater Club in the same year.