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It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)

Approved  |   |  Action, Adventure, Comedy  |  2 December 1963 (UK)
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 27,249 users  
Reviews: 342 user | 58 critic

The dying words of a thief spark a madcap cross-country rush to find some treasure.

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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Biplane Pilot
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Storyline

After a long prison sentence Smiler Grogan is heading at high speed to a California park where he hid $350,000 from a job 15 years previously. He accidentally careens over a cliff in view of four cars whose occupants go down to help. The dying Grogan gives details of where the money is buried and when the witnesses fail to agree on sharing the cash, a crazy chase develops across the state. Written by Col Needham <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

california | race | desert | money | chase | See All (168) »

Taglines:

It's the biggest entertainment ever to hit the Cinerama screen! (Poster). See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

2 December 1963 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

It's a Mad World  »

Box Office

Budget:

$9,400,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$46,300,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(edited) | (restored video) | (extended re-edit) (Laserdisc) | (original) | (roadshow) | (extended)

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System) (35mm prints)| (Westrex Recording System) (70 mm prints)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.76 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Phil Silvers, while filming the scene where he drives his car into the river, nearly drowned because he couldn't swim. See more »

Goofs

When the migrant couple on their way to California are run off the road, as their truck careens down the side of the steep gully, a safety restraint attached to the rear tow hitch is clearly visible. See more »

Quotes

Ding Bell: You see our grandmother lives in Rosita Beach, see, and she's dying and she kinda like to have us be with her when she goes.
Benjy Benjamin: Otherwise she won't go.
[Bell bumps him]
Benjy Benjamin: Uh, she'll go!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The animators who animated the opening title sequence were technically uncredited on film, but they did get their names in during the shot where the giant globe "explodes" and there is a shower of name credits strewn over the screen. Freeze-frame reveals the names of all the animators. This is the same animation team who did A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965). See more »

Connections

Referenced in Board James: Dream Phone (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

You Satisfy My Soul
(1963) (uncredited)
Music by Ernest Gold
Lyrics by Mack David
Played by The Four Mads
Sung by The Shirelles
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
More than the sum of its parts
20 March 2001 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

Often accused of being less than the sum of its parts, "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World is one of the most precious gems in filmdom. True, it's far from being the funniest movie ever. Once, when Monty Python was putting a film together, they found that after fifty-odd minutes the audience stopped laughing. Thinking it was the material, they recut it so the latter material came out first. The audience still stopped laughing at fifty-odd minutes, even with what MP assumed the funnier materials backloaded. The fact is, people can only laugh so long.

Even armed with the information that an audience cannot sustain laughter for three hours, "Mad World" is not overwhelmingly funny. Though lots of dialogue is amusing and all the performances are outstanding, but the movie suffers from a common delusion of people outside comedy, as Stanley Kramer was, that the mere vision of cars crashing is somehow funny in itself. One is reminded of the spectacular sequence in "1941" when a ferris wheel breaks loose and rolls off a pier into the ocean. The sequence itself is jaw-dropping and extremely well-done, and not funny for a moment.

The value in "Mad World" is its cast. Most of the big names in comedy in the 1950s and 1960s made it into the cast (Ernie Kovaks, arguably the brightest of the lot, originally cast in the Sid Caesar role, unfortunately died not long before shooting started). The casting of name comics in tiny roles doesn't do them justice: Stan Freberg has nothing to do but watch Andy Devine talk on the telephone; Doodles Weaver is an uncredited "Man Outside Hardware Store"; the Three Stooges merely show up to be recognized; even Jack Benny, in a miniscule role funny merely because he's in it, doesn't have an impact today because too few people remember who he was. Again, some milk their small roles for what they are worth, giving the movie an undercurrent of true humor beyond the principals: Don Knotts, Carl Reiner, Jesse White, Paul Ford, Jim Backus.

"Mad World" is most valuable simply because it is a cross-section of comedy in its day. Although he was talented in many ways, anyone unfamiliar with Phil Silvers will see him in a performance that was the epitome of what he was famous for. Dick Shawn's manic wildness is captured forever in a way that is little seen in his few other films. Terry-Thomas, whose brilliance was too often relegated to obscure British films rarely seen anymore, is a joy to watch and his British tilt provides a variation from Americans who learned their craft in the Catskills and Vaudeville. Jonathan Winters, whom Robin Williams used as a prototype, was the most gifted ad-lib comic of his day and rarely showed up well when he was constrained by a script and a sustained character, but he brings off many of the best laughs in this film, and, with Arnold Stang and Marvin Kaplan the most memorable set piece in the movie. Milton Berle and Micky Rooney both bring lifetimes of stage and screen work to the project, and their input was invaluable.

All the principals (Berle, Caesar, Adams, Rooney, Hackett, Terry-Thomas, Shawn, Silvers, Winters, Anderson, Falk) are good. Even the ones who seem to have been shorted of funny lines, like Edie Adams, and Eddie Anderson, nevertheless come off well. Although they blend well together, there is a subtle fight between them for attention, to steal a scene with a facial expressions (watch Adams' face, for instance, when Caesar drags her away, in front of the "Big W", though you may have to put it on slow-motion) or a bit of business. You can see each of them thinking, at all times. Each gives an intelligent performance, having laboriously hammered out their timing and their business, and they're all thinking, with the clockwork brains the best comedians have. They may not all be funny every minute, but every moment they know what they're doing, crafting better performances than many Oscar-winning serious actors have ever turned in.

Though the movie might be too bloated for the promised three hours' hilarious ride, with too much dependence on, "Hey, there's Edward Everett Horton flicking a switch!" But anyone who loves comedy and its history needs -- deserves -- to see the best in the business of comedy in 1963 interacting with their schtick, especially if they don't mind sitting through -- occasionally mindless -- car chases and crashes.


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