Boon (Peter Riegert) and Otter (Tim Matheson) set the bar for toga parties in “Animal House.”


Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire and Joel Edgerton were encouraged to act like rock stars and wreck the place in the party scenes in “The Great Gatsby.”

Warner Bros.,

Top 10 party scenes in movies: Should 'Gatsby' be added to the list?

  • Article by: Barry Koltnow
  • The Orange County Register
  • May 12, 2013 - 12:44 PM


It is no secret that Hollywood makes stuff up.

It is, after all, the dream factory, and nothing is real. But nobody cares how the sausage is made, as long as the sausage tastes good on a crusty Italian roll with grilled onions and peppers.

We know that sex scenes are not sexy when they’re filmed, but we don’t care as long as they’re sexy on the big screen.

We know that comedy scenes are not funny when they’re filmed, but we don’t care as long as they’re funny on the big screen.

And we know that party scenes are not wild and crazy when they’re filmed, but we don’t care as long as they’re wild and crazy on the big screen.

I accept the phoniness of sex and comedy scenes, but I have always been a sucker for a great party scene in a movie.

The first movie party that spoiled me was in the 1962 film “The Interns.” It wasn’t a great film, but the party thrown by first-year interns was so wild that I actually considered going to medical school — just for the parties.

I was reminded of great movie parties last week when I caught an early screening of “The Great Gatsby,” director Baz Luhrmann’s lavish take on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel.

The book has been filmed on at least five occasions (the best-known version starred Robert Redford in 1974), and party scenes have been an essential ingredient in each of them. After all, the mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby’s reputation was built on the notoriety of the all-night parties at his Long Island mansion.

Luhrmann’s film, which opened Friday, contains some of the best party scenes ever put on film. I asked Joel Edgerton, who plays Daisy’s brutish husband Tom Buchanan, if the party scenes were as dull to shoot as one might expect in Hollywood.

To my surprise, the Australian actor revealed that Luhrmann created a party atmosphere for the scenes, and even encouraged cast members to act like rock stars and wreck the place.

There is no doubt that this new film will make it on a future list of my favorite party scenes in movies, but for now, here are my 10 favorites:


1. “Animal House” (1978)

When I walk into a party, I immediately look for Otis Day & the Knights. If they aren’t providing the night’s entertainment, and no one is riding motorcycles down the stairs, the party is a bust. I go home and immediately remove my toga.

2. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961)

Unlike most of the other parties listed here, this film featured a wild soiree for big-city adults. It’s a shame that the racist character living upstairs from Holly Golightly has ruined this film’s reputation, but the party scene lives on.

3. “Almost Famous” (2000)

Rock guitarist Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup) is so frustrated on a tour stop in Topeka, Kan., that he leaves the arena with young William from Rolling Stone magazine in search of a “real” experience with “real” people. He accepts an invitation from some local teens and gets crazy at an awesome house party, which ends in a drug-fueled leap from a roof into a swimming pool.

4. “Old School” (2003)

It’s a little creepy with three older guys partying with college kids, but it’s all for laughs and Will Ferrell gets naked.

5. “Weird Science” (1985)

Two geeks throw a party attended by the amazing Kelly LeBrock. Who cares that she is a scientific experiment and not a real woman?

6. “Project X” (2012)

Three high school boys in search of a cool reputation throw a party that gets way out of hand.

7. “Boogie Nights” (1997)

It might be a male fantasy based on false assumptions, but what guy could resist a porn-star party?

8. “House Party” (1990)

It’s pretty much right there in the title.

9. “Dazed and Confused” (1993)

On the last day of high school in a small Texas town, all the seniors (and many of the underclassmen) head for a wooded spot for an end-of-school celebration.

10. “Get Him to the Greek” (2010)

It’s a fact that rock stars know how to party. I know this fact from movies like this.

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