“You’ll have time to rest when you’re dead.” – Robert De Niro
Often categorised under the film farce genre, The Wedding Party is a 1969 comedy which has become important now for historical reasons more than anything else. It was a collaboration between a young Brian De Palma, a fellow student named Cynthia Monroe and Wilford Leach, their theatre professor at Sarah Lawrence.
The film would become a precursor for Leach’s works who would go on to become a Tony Award-winning theatre director as well as De Palma who managed to stand out as one of the most important filmmakers of the 20th century. The Wedding Party is also notable for being Robert De Niro’s feature film debut.
Although it was completed in 1963, the film was stalled for six years because of legal issues. By the time it was released, De Niro had already started gaining recognition for his theatre work and had appeared in De Palma’s 1968 satirical film Greetings.
In an interview, Brian De Palma said, “The Wedding Party was De Niro’s first movie. Bobby came into a casting session and Will and I were in a loft on Broadway. He’s like the last guy in the room and he’s very quiet, shy. He said he had something that he prepared in class and he went out.
He added, “Will and I were sort of looking at each other, 20 minutes [had passed]. We thought he had had left. It was at night and then he bursts through the door and does this scene from Clifford Odets’ play [Waiting for Lefty] about the cab strike and it was like watching Lee J. Cobb rant in front of the union guys. Holy mackerel!”
Watch a scene from Robert De Niro’s brilliant debut in The Wedding Party below: