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It's My Party

As Kleiser revealed in interviews at the time of the film's release, the event that made him sit down and write the film "was so powerful it became a turning point in my life," and this film is a fictionalized, heartfelt depiction of that event.


It's My Party is about Nick (Eric Roberts) a young gay man whose AIDS symptoms become life,...

It's My Party is a 1996 American dramatic film.

Written and directed by Randal Kleiser, it was one of the first feature films to address the topic of AIDS patients dying with dignity. It chronicles a two-day party hosted by Nick Stark who, having been diagnosed with progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, will fall into a state of mental lapse lasting for months until his death. He decides instead to host a party for his family and friends, at the end of which he will commit suicide by taking Seconal.

The film is based on the true events of the death of Harry Stein, accomplished architect and designer, who was also director Kleiser's ex-lover. Stein's actual farewell party was held in 1992.

While features like Longtime Companion (1990) and Philadelphia (1993) had already dealt with AIDS, such films in 1996 -- especially featuring well-known actors -- were rare. While It's My Party may have had mixed reviews, it remains a classic for chronicling the desperate path some AIDS patients took when facing an inevitable physical decline with no available treatment.

The cast includes Olivia Newton-John, Margaret Cho, Bronson Pinchot, Devon Gummersall, George Segal, Lee Grant, Marlee Matlin, Roddy McDowall, Steve Antin, Bruce Davison, Sally Kellerman, Lou Liberatore, Nina Foch, Eric Roberts as Nick Stark and Gregory Harrison as Brandon, Stark's estranged lover who returns to attend the party and say goodbye.

A DVD with special features was released in 2003. It contains deleted and extended scenes, featurettes on the making of the movie and commentary by the director and some of the actors.

Original Review: In this day and age, it's very rare to hear a movie score such as this - a score full of passion, grace and elegance. It's even rarer to hear it performed in such a simple and old fashioned way, but in the case of It's My Party it turns out to be a master stroke.


Put out of your minds your preconceptions of what a Basil Poledouris score sounds like. Gone are the brilliant but overwhelming orchestrations. Gone are the violins and the trumpets, and gone are the drums and the synthesisers. All that remains is Poledouris himself playing a series of beautiful, delicate melodies on a solo, unadorned, crystal-clear piano.

The movie, about a gay man dying of AIDS trying to put his life in order before it finally slips away from him, was not a typically slushy, sentimental Hollywood production and therefore required a much greater level of sensitivity and restraint from the composer to stop the music from entering the realms of schmaltz. Poledouris succeeded admirably to this end, and added volumes to the movie's impact by allowing his music to reflect and complement the emotional turmoil on the screen, rather than overwhelming the audience with blatantly obvious tear-jerking cues. Although the music retains a feeling of sad reflection throughout, it never becomes depressing and in fact the longest cue, 'The Kiss Goodbye', is actually quite positive and seems to give out a definite aura of hope and love.

The song at the end, 'Don't Cut Me Down' was written and performed by cast member Olivia Newton-John, and is consistent with the tone of the rest of the score, providing a fitting conclusion to the album (although I must admit it does initially come as quite a shock to hear something other than a piano!). It takes a very talented and brave composer to allow his themes to be broken down and heard at their most basic level. Whereas other, lesser composers would probably shudder at the thought of having their work exposed to all and sundry without the shield of a full orchestra to mask any shortcomings, the creativity and brilliance of Poledouris' raw talent shines from this album like a beacon. It also takes a very trusting director - in this case Randal Kleiser - to allow the emotional impact of a movie to rest almost entirely on the performance of one man with one piano. I take my hat off to both men for having the audacity and skill to come up with such a remarkable score. I highly recommended this score to all as a wonderful example of just how talented our beloved movie score composers really are.


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