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I never planned to write a review for this movie, until I took a stroll
through the user comments, and was shocked at all the people who think
it is.... God help us... overrated. No way. If anything, it is
UNDERrated. I see people complaining about the endless shouting, the
over the top slapstick, the brashness, the loudness, the length. I can
only conclude that these people are a bunch of humorless dorks.
First of all, you can't just sit down to watch a three hour movie without knowing what you're in for. This is not your typical comedy--this is an EPIC comedy, the first of its kind, that inspired other such epics as "Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines" and "The Great Race" (which happens to be my favorite comedy--in fact, I'd like to say it's the better movie, but props go to this one for inventing the genre). And I can't speak for everyone else, but this movie leaves me laughing from start to finish.
Yes, it is very long, but it NEVER has a dull moment. Even if the amazing car stunts aren't particularly funny, you can't tell me they aren't wildly entertaining. I have yet to see an action movie with better car chases than these. And yes, the slapstick is ridiculously over the top, although I can't see how that's a problem (the gas station scene is one of the funniest in movie history, in my opinion). But underneath all the slapstick and shouting, holding the whole movie together, is that incredibly cynical message. It is a movie about kind, decent folks turning into law-breaking lunatics and ruining their lives for the sake of money. The subplot with Spencer Tracey realizing his entire life has been a waste, and then ruining what life he has left, is one of the most tragic story lines I have seen. But it's also pretty darn funny.
All the critics need to lighten up and see this for the absurd, delirious, hysterical farce it is.
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
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.
A couple of years ago, I finally managed to get IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD on video. I saw it as a kid and remember enjoying it but watching it again for 40 years later, I still found myself LMAO. This is still the granddaddy of all comedy/adventures directed by Stanley Kramer, who up to this point had only directed serious dramas like THE DEFIANT ONES and JUDGMENT AT NUREMBURG. A dying man (Jimmy Durante) who was thrown from a car that careened over a cliff, tells a group of witnesses to the accident (Sid Ceasar, Mickey Rooney, Buddy Hackett, Milton Berle, Jonathan Winters) that there is $350,000.00 hidden under a big "W" in a nearby town, which sets off one of the wildest, craziest chase comedies made in the history of cinema. A rather tired and haggard looking Spencer Tracy heads the cast as the cop on the trail of these greedy money-mongers and just about every comedian or comic actor alive in 1963 appears in this film, either in a starring role or cameo and despite this impressive gathering of the best comedic talent in the business, towering over all of them in one of her few film performances, is Broadway legend Ethel Merman, who gives the performance of a lifetime as Berle's shrew of a mother-in-law. Her performance alone makes IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD worth seeing. Check out this classic if you've never seen it.
This was the first time a comedy got the "epic" film treatment and after
getting increasingly pretentious in his previous two dramas, Stanley Kramer
just went all out for simple old-fashioned fun with the largest ensemble of
comic talent he could get his hands on. How big? Consider that this is a
film in which both Jack Benny and Rochester appear, but not together (also
true of Phil Silvers and his "Sergeant Bilko" nemesis Paul Ford). Just
about every big name in TV comedy of the 50s and 60s is here and the
results, while not the greatest of its kind ("The Great Race" is a funnier
film in my opinion) still manages to deliver the laughs.
It's too bad the remaining ten minutes (plus the police bulletins intermission) of the road show version still is missing, because the expanded version helped me appreciate the film a lot more than I did the first time out when I saw it on TV as a faded pan and scan atrocity. This is one film that makes great use of the widescreen.
It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World has to be the funniest film ever made
because no one, but Stanley Kramer ever got so many funny people
together in one film. With a cast headed by his favorite dramatic
player to boot.
Four out of Spencer Tracy's last five films were made for Stanley Kramer. The others, Inherit the Wind, Judgment at Nuremberg, and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner dealt with weighty issues like, free speech, genocide, and interracial marriage. What It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World deals with is greed, simple normal human greed. If something looks too good to be true, chances are it is.
Jimmy Durante an old time crook crashes off a highway and down a steep cliff. He's on the way to digging up the loot from a $350,000.00 robbery from years ago. His dying words tell those people went to aid him where in Santa Rosita Park the loot is buried. Off the group of them go, every man and woman for themselves, with some alliances of family and convenience. A few more treasure seekers get picked up along the way.
That barebones plot description doesn't begin to tell you about some of the funny sequences that follow, Buddy Hackett and Mickey Rooney in a private plane with a drunken pilot Jim Backus passed out, Edie Adams and Sid Caesar trapped in a hardware store desperately trying to get out, Jonathan Winters as the lunkhead truck driver generally running amuck wherever he goes, and Milton Berle the henpecked husband of all time married to the beautiful Dorothy Provine, her braindead brother Dick Shawn and Ethel Merman the mother-in-law from hell. Berle has a package deal and when you watch the film, you'll see what I mean.
Along the way, the treasure hunters pick up Terry-Thomas, Phil Silvers, Peter Falk and Eddie Anderson. And they leave a whole lot of some of the best character actors and comedians who each in their own way contributes a certain specialty they're famous for.
There are two unbilled appearances by Jack Benny and Jerry Lewis each in situations that show off their peculiar style of comedy.
Watching it all is Spencer Tracy as the Captain of Detectives of the Santa Rosita, Police Department both before the camera and between takes. I remember seeing a quotation by Stanley Kramer that with all these comedians on the set, Tracy was like a king with a hundred jesters, each looking to amuse him. Tracy besides keeping track of this freak show has some domestic problems of his own which are told in telephone conversations with the city pension bureau, his wife, and his daughter. Tracy's expressions are priceless.
My favorite in this film has always been Ethel Merman. Mainly because I know someone back in Brooklyn named Gladys who's exactly like Ethel is here right down to the flaming red hair. I haven't lived in Brooklyn for nine years now, but reports I get say she hasn't changed. I can't watch this film and see Merman without thinking of dear Gladys and the schlump that married her.
It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World is about greed, yet greed has never been presented with such rip roaring humor as it is in this film. For those who need a good laugh and who in this world doesn't.
My parents took us when we were little kids and we saw It's a Mad Mad
Mad World in 1964. I don't remember much about it because I was only 6
years old back then, but I do remember the audience in the movie
theater laughing continuously.
I bought the DVD, which was remastered in DTS Surround Sound, a couple of months ago and it's definitely a good comedy classic to have. My parents came over and they watched it on my High Definition 52" DLP TV, with Surround Sound and they loved it. There's never a dull moment in it because it's good clean comedy that doesn't have to rely on vulgar language, nudity or violence to win the approval of crowds. They definitely don't make movies like that anymore, that's why I gave it a rating of 10.
Although most of the actors in it have passed on, I still love the comedy and acting styles of Milton Berle, Spencer Tracy, Ethel Merman, Buddy Hackett, Terry Thomas and others, plus there are cameo appearances in there with Jerry Lewis, Jack Benny and The Three Stooges.
Well, if I named all the famous comedians who were in this film it
would a long, long review. Just check the credits - it's unbelievable!
Suffice to say, it was an "all-star" cast of everybody you could think
of who was a big-name comedian in 1963 including some old-timers like
Mickey Rooney, Milton Berle, etc. Add a famous dramatic actor, Spencer
Tracy, to the mix,, too, and you have one of the most famous comedies
ever put on film.
When I saw this in the theater, and even in the '80s on tape, I liked it immensely, but now it's just a bit loud and too much for me in spots. I'm either getting too old or this film is getting to look dated and corny.....probably both. However, if you want three hours of pure lunacy and escapist fare, you could do a whole lot worse.
Despite all the shouting, this film has some of the all-time most memorable comedy scenes ever put on film. Plus, unlike today's comedies, there is no profanity, no sex, no blood....just silliness and one wild scene after another, with an unbelievable slapstick ending atop a building.
For anyone who collects movies, or enjoys a good laugh, this a "must" for your collection, and I don't say that very often. However, as I get older, all that yelling and screaming has made me downgrade my rating from 10 to 9 to 8 and now 7.
Having been born in 1965, it's safe to say that the first time I ever
saw "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" was on network television. Every
other user comment already reveals enough about the movie, so I'll just
stick with my own experiences regarding the film.
If you must know, yes I do believe this film is a well-deserved comedy classic, but it's also loaded with breathtaking scenery (natural and contemporary) that's often overlooked by most critics. Many a fan wants to know where that mountain road is. Since I'm also a fan of big cars of the post-WW2 era I can easily spot every one. Mickey Rooney's Volkswagen must be worth a fortune if it's still around. And I don't care if this movie is over 3 hours long. As one commenter put it it has been edited to pieces. I envy those who saw the original 1963 version of this movie, but even they didn't see everything. The versions I've seen include the original television edit, the director's cut on 2 VHS tapes which contain some "lost scenes" and people I never even knew were in the movie, the DVD, and even a version on TV where some scenes were shown out of order. The director's cut VHS tapes is the best, partially because of those scenes such as additional police observations, as well as having the sense to keep the original overture, entr'acte, and exit music title cards. Unfortunately, the DVD removes those lost scenes and mixes them with a section of other deleted scenes, like a louder version of Buddy Hackett's "17 ways of figuring it" speech, and some riskier ordeals in Santa Rosita Park.
I've come to the conclusion that there's only one solution to this problem -- unless all footage is found and re-installed into the original version, the screenplay must be released into a book and sold to the public.
What can I say? It's an epic adventure and comedy rolled into one! It's
been my #1 all-time favorite film since childhood, which says a lot. I
was surprised to find out how underrated it is. Critics always talk
about how it stars so many famous comedians. The novelty overshadows
the movie itself. Like I said, I saw this at a very young age, and
didn't know who all these actors were. This is the movie that
introduced me to them.
It also gets downplayed, being labeled as "slapstick." But that's cutting it short. There's a lot of subtleness in there too. The performances are outstanding. I've never seen a movie that has so many memorable characters all in one.
Each of them go on their own adventure, inter-cutting along the way, as they each have to overcome their own obstacles and meet other characters on their journey. It's like several movies all intertwined together, and most of it happens in real time. The 2 1/2 hour run time feels appropriate and passes like nothing. Every second is entertaining, which is the greatest accomplishment for a motion picture to achieve.
The film resonates with me on a deeper level. All these characters met on the side of the road. They were just ordinary hard working people who had nothing in common, except for one dream. That unreachable fantasy. They all wanted the money so bad. They weren't happy with their lives. They wanted a change, and they would do anything to beat each other. They're overcome by greed which becomes their overlying problem.
Fantastic movie! Full of hilarious moments, and a great story!
Well-so far I haven't read one good review of this movie on here. I don't have a lot to add except growing up, this was one of my favorite comedies. This is totally slapstick, lots of chases and things breaking-silly and almost plot less-but oh how I laughed. I'm not quite sure WHY I did but I have never been able to view this movie without breaking out into Gales of laughter. Since I'm writing a review, I'd like to try to give a specific reason Why this off the wall, completely silly movie appealed to me so much but I can't because there is no reason. This movie is ridiculous in it's way, but it knows it, and doesn't Take itself at all seriously. It's like Seinfeld-a movie about nothing.(Except Chases, things falling, breaking etc). That's it. But It's funny. It's mindless and it's entertaining and I loved it! Since, I haven't seen it in quite awhile, maybe I wouldn't love it now and I can see how it wouldn't be for everybody but all I know is this is one of the few comedies that rendered me absolutely hysterical through most of it and I'm not the only person who had that reaction. This is coming from someone who isn't particularly fond of slapstick. There's not much else to say about it-it's certainly a mad, mad movie and one that gave me numerous laughs many a time.
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