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A Movie A Day: IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD (1963)
I’m not entirely certain you haven’t damaged this machine!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day. [For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection or from my DVR and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.] So here’s my challenge. I spent 2 hours and 41 minutes watching this film after having woken up at nearly 11pm (I’m on a fucked up sleep schedule right now if you couldn’t tell) and now I have to get my review written up in as timely a manner as I can so Thursday’s AMAD doesn’t post well into Friday morning. And I have a whole lot I want to discuss with this movie. So here’s hoping the below comes out reading somewhat rational and not the early morning rushed ramblings of a guy trying to say a whole lot as fast as he can. Where the hell do you start with this movie?

The plot is incredibly simple though the situations and slapstick gets incredibly complex. A dying man tells a group of 5 strangers he buried $350,000 in a park 200 miles from them and the other 2 hours and 20 minutes of the film is the mad-cap dash to this park, every man (and woman) for himself (or herself) and more and more joining in the rush before the end. Spencer Tracy plays Capt. Culpepper, who has been trying to track down this money for 15 years and finally knows all he has to do is sit back and watch these fools as they race across California and they will lead him to the money. Jimmy Durante kicks all this off, starting the movie weaving across a twisty highway, passing cars at dangerous speeds. He flies off the road (or “sails” as Sid Caeser keeps saying) in a spectacular crash of metal, glass and rubber. Five people run down to see if he’s okay. These people are Sid Caeser (who we follow over from yesterday’s misfire William Castle comedy THE BUSY BODY), Milton Berle, Jonathan Winters, Mickey Rooney and Buddy Hackett, leaving wives and mothers-in-law up with the cars.

Durante tells them all that there’s $350,000 buried under a giant W in Santa Rosita Park, 200 miles away before he kicks the bucket… both literally and metaphorically speaking. These five, average, nice people keep this information from the cops and start to drive away, but they notice no one is letting the others out of sight. Of course the wives are told, including Edie Adams and the gorgeous Dorothy Provine as well as one of the highlights of the movie, the bitchy, harping mother-in-law, Mrs. Marcus, played by Ethel Merman.

They pull over and decide to try to talk it out, but no matter how many ways they figure it someone feels short changed… should only the 5 people who heard it get a share? Or everybody, including the wives and mother-in-law? Jonathan Winter is always fucked over because he was traveling alone, so his share is less than everybody else’s… Slowly the realize it’s every man for himself and half an hour into the movie it becomes a crazy chase movie as everybody is doing whatever they can for an edge on the others… which, naturally, resorts in everybody getting fucked over, usually multiple times, over the course of the movie. Lots of cars wrecked, lots of rides thumbed (which brings in more and more characters hunting for this buried treasure as people like Terry-Thomas, Phil Silvers, Dick Shawn, Jim Backus, Peter Falk and Don Knotts pop in and out of the chase), some planes hired, cars stolen, gas stations demolished, cars drowned, small children’s bicycles ridden and hardware stores blown up. I loved everybody in this movie, but I have to highlight a few individuals. I thought I was a Jonathan Winters fan before I saw this movie and then I realized I had no real idea just how fucking awesome he is. It was about the time he was hulking out in the gas station, tearing it apart beam by beam, punching through walls, trying to kill a pair of bumbling mechanics who unwittingly helped fuck Winters over that I really fell in love with this movie.

It’s a ri-goddamn-diculous scene, but I love random, over-the-top humor so much and seeing Winters go nuts really did just put me over the top with this movie. As much as I love Winters he might have to fight with the corpse of Buddy Hackett for my affections. I love Buddy Hackett’s schtick. I’m sure it annoys the piss out of some people, but not me. His voice, his attitude, his wonky eye… just all works for me.

Buddy is perfectly teamed in this movie with Mickey Rooney, another big personality and one that I have a lot of nostalgia for. I’ve seen precious little of his early work with Judy Garland, but I grew up with ‘70s and ‘80s stuff, with a particular love for PETE’S DRAGON where he plays a drunk lighthouse keeper. In fact, Jim Backus, who plays the mayor of Passamaquoddy in Pete’s Dragon, plays a boozer friend of Rooney’s in this movie. Backus can’t stop drinking even when he’s supposed to be flying a jet, leaving Buddy at the controls in one of my favorite segments in the flick. Everybody is great in this movie, especially the leads. Terry-Thomas is hilarious as a proper British flower collector who picks up Milton Berle, his wife (Provine) and mother-in-law Ethel Merman early in the flick and becomes one of the main people chasing down the money. He has a great fight with Berle over which country is better, America or Britain, that had me laughing out loud… especially Thomas’ assertion that America is obsessed with bosoms and if women ever stopped wearing bras then the American economy would fail.

There are cameo appearances by everybody from Buster Keaton to the The Three Stooges to Jerry Lewis (perhaps my favorite cameo, where he goes out of his way to drive over Spencer Tracy’s hat) to Jack Benny (my second favorite cameo as he stops to offer help and is verbally assaulted by Ethel Merman… and his face just drops)… pretty much anybody who was funny between 1900 and 1963 that was still alive and willing to work is in this movie. The filmmaking is top notch as well as the comedy in front of the camera. Shot in animorphic widescreen and in beautiful Technicolor, this flick really does feel epic. Do I think it needs to be 2 hours and 41 minutes? No, not really. There was probably half an hour that could have been cut from the movie and it wouldn’t have been too tragic, but there is something to the brisk, but assured pace that doesn’t falter that really does give this film its unique identity. In fact, one piece of trivia about this flick is that it was the first film to premiere at the Cineramadome in Los Angeles. Pretty sweet, huh? Final Thoughts: Director Stanley Kramer had a Herculean task here, juggling some of entertainment’s funniest personalities without short-changing anybody and he does a spectacular job, aided by a great and fun script by William and Tania Rose. From the opening credits, designed by the great Saul Bass, to the closing scene I was invested and laughing along, some 45 years after this film was initially released. If you haven’t yet given it a watch, do yourself a favor and set aside some time over the holidays and give it a spin.

Here’s what we have lined up for the next week: Friday, November 7th: LIBELED LADY (1936)

Saturday, November 8th: UP THE RIVER (1930)

Sunday, November 9th: DOCTOR BULL (1933)

Monday, November 10th: JUDGE PRIEST (1930)

Tuesday, November 11th: TEN LITTLE INDIANS (1965)

Wednesday, November 12th: MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (1974)

Thursday, November 13th: DANIEL (1983)

There, I did it! And I have enough time to get some ducks in a row before I go out and buy GEARS OF WAR 2 and lose myself in it for the rest of the day… I know I should be doing more work instead, but… Wait… I’m just doing some research for the Holiday Gift Guide! That’s it! I am working! I swear! (PS If you haven’t already, send me in some suggestions on what you’re looking forward to this year… stuff you’d like to see make an appearance in the Holiday Gift Guide! I’ve gotten some great suggestions so far… I think it’s going to be a great one this year, but there’s always room for more!) Next time we jump back to 1936’s LIBELED LADY, following Spencer Tracy. See you folks then! -Quint

Previous Movies: June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast a Giant Shadow
July 23rd: Out of the Past
July 24th: The Big Steal
July 25th: Where Danger Lives
July 26th: Crossfire
July 27th: Ricco, The Mean Machine
July 28th: In Harm’s Way
July 29th: Firecreek
July 30th: The Cheyenne Social Club
July 31st: The Man Who Knew Too Much
August 1st: The Spirit of St. Louis
August 2nd: Von Ryan’s Express
August 3rd: Can-Can
August 4th: Desperate Characters
August 5th: The Possession of Joel Delaney
August 6th: Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx
August 7th: Start the Revolution Without Me
August 8th: Hell Is A City
August 9th: The Pied Piper
August 10th: Partners
August 11th: Barry Lyndon
August 12th: The Skull
August 13th: The Hellfire Club
August 14th: Blood of the Vampire
August 15th: Terror of the Tongs
August 16th: Pirates of Blood River
August 17th: The Devil-Ship Pirates
August 18th: Jess Franco’s Count Dracula
August 19th: Dracula A.D. 1972
August 20th: The Stranglers of Bombay
August 21st: Man, Woman & Child
August 22nd: The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane
August 23rd: The Young Philadelphians
August 24th: The Rack
August 25th: Until They Sail
August 26th: Somebody Up There Likes Me
August 27th: The Set-Up
August 28th: The Devil & Daniel Webster
August 29th: Cat People
August 30th: The Curse of the Cat People
August 31st: The 7th Victim
September 1st: The Ghost Ship
September 2nd: Isle of the Dead
September 3rd: Bedlam
September 4th: Black Sabbath
September 5th: Black Sunday
September 6th: Twitch of the Death Nerve
September 7th: Tragic Ceremony
September 8th: Lisa & The Devil
September 9th: Baron Blood
September 10th: A Shot In The Dark
September 11th: The Pink Panther
September 12th: The Return of the Pink Panther
September 13th: The Pink Panther Strikes Again
September 14th: Revenge of the Pink Panther
September 15th: Trail of the Pink Panther
September 16th: The Real Glory
September 17th: The Winning of Barbara Worth
September 18th: The Cowboy and the Lady
September 19th: Dakota
September 20th: Red River
September 21st: Terminal Station
September 22nd: The Search
September 23rd: Act of Violence
September 24th: Houdini
September 25th: Money From Home
September 26th: Papa’s Delicate Condition
September 27th: Dillinger
September 28th: Battle of the Bulge
September 29th: Daisy Kenyon
September 30th: Laura
October 1st: The Dunwich Horror
October 2nd: Experiment In Terror
October 3rd: The Devil’s Rain
October 4th: Race With The Devil
October 5th: Salo, Or The 120 Days of Sodom
October 6th: Bad Dreams
October 7th: The House Where Evil Dwells
October 8th: Memories of Murder
October 9th: The Hunger
October 10th: I Saw What You Did
October 11th: I Spit On Your Grave
October 12th: Naked You Die
October 13th: The Wraith
October 14th: Silent Night, Bloody Night
October 15th: I Bury The Living
October 16th: The Beast Must Die
October 17th: Hellgate
October 18th: He Knows You’re Alone
October 19th: The Thing From Another World
October 20th: The Fall of the House of Usher
October 21st: Audrey Rose
October 22nd: Who Slew Auntie Roo?
October 23rd: Wait Until Dark
October 24th: Dead & Buried
October 25th: A Bucket of Blood
October 26th: The Bloodstained Shadow
October 27th: I, Madman
October 28th: Return to Horror High
October 29th: Die, Monster, Die
October 30th: Epidemic
October 31st: Student Bodies
November 1st: Black Widow
November 2nd: The Ghost & Mrs. Muir
November 3rd: Flying Tigers
November 4th: Executive Action
November 5th: The Busy Body

Readers Talkback
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  • Nov. 7, 2008, 6:38 a.m. CST

    Fun movie

    by Gungan Slayer

    Always enjoy watching this one. Much better than Rat Race IMO. There's been talk of the Kramer family trying to put a sequel together...with modern day all star cast, in addition to the surviving actors of the first film. Don't think it will ever get made though.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 6:49 a.m. CST

    Great film

    by insightman

    I was so lucky to see this hilarious film in the original Cinerama. It made good use of the wide, wide, wide, wide, screen.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 6:55 a.m. CST

    kid favorite

    by Himbo

    I think I was 8 when I saw this on Movie Greats. I loved it then. I've not seen it since. I have no doubt it is a different movie as an adult, but probably one people can watch with their children. I bet any adult jokes just went directly over my head. <p> And I LOVE Terry Thomas. If you've not seen he and Jack Lemmon in "How to Murder your Wife" it is highly recommended you do so.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 7 a.m. CST

    I've always had a soft spot for this film

    by Boba Fat

    despite it's reputation as a bad film. I like all it excesses.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 7:03 a.m. CST

    Loved it as a kid, hated it now

    by menacingphantom

    I'll probably be the only one but... Caught this on cable a few months ago and made my wife watch it. Saw it when I was 7 or something and loved it. But I have to say, this time around I found it pretty unwatchable. So much mugging and laziness. Bonk!

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 7:06 a.m. CST

    This movie is on my list like forever!

    by DerLanghaarige

    Everytime it was on tV I missed it. (I was able to catch the last 3 minutes of it one day!) I bought the DVD a few months ago. Haven't watched it yet. If I will ever find the time for MY movie a day, this will be the first.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 7:08 a.m. CST

    Much better than...

    by yodaismyhomie

    ...Rat Race which tried to recreate this movie and almost would have been somewhat successful if the ending had been better...

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 7:16 a.m. CST

    Even the Movie Posters to this movie are Masterpieces

    by Shut the Fuck up Donny

    Jack Davis did 'em. 'nuff said.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 7:22 a.m. CST

    More trivia

    by Shoegeezer

    It was the last film Willis O'Brien worked on, as well as one of the first for Dick Smith and Jim Danforth, all three contributed to the firetruck ladder sequence. Great silly movie.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 7:41 a.m. CST

    Gotta Break Down And Buy It...

    by GoSensGo

    It really makes me feel good to watch it. I can almost smell my grandparents' cigarette smoke and hear the Rat Pack on the radio. Sigh.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 7:42 a.m. CST

    "I'm comming momma!"

    by kikuchiyoboy

    Dick Shawn ruled this film: <br> <br> <br> One of my all time favorites. One of those films that just puts a smile across your face. <br> <br> SYLVESTER!

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 7:48 a.m. CST

    Spoiler on the ending

    by kikuchiyoboy

    The ending was perfect. All their woes and problems were simply resolved by laughter. It was a silly slapstick moment, but that's what made it such a wonderful touching ending. Kind of like the film Sullivan's Travels was talking about.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 7:49 a.m. CST

    kikuchiyoboy is absolutely right

    by Skankardly

    Dick Shawn was fucking awesome!

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 7:50 a.m. CST


    by kikuchiyoboy

    This is the proper url for the Sylvester scene. <br>

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 7:55 a.m. CST

    Did you all hear what mama said?

    by sott68

    Sylvester Rules!

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 8:07 a.m. CST

    One of my favorite comedies

    by Darthkrusty

    Sylvester's groovy intro & the gas station scenes are my favorites among many classic bits. I watch this every few years around the holidays with the family. Good times.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 8:09 a.m. CST

    I remember watching this on TV as a kid and

    by Simpsonian

    not knowing anything about "widescreen" back then but knowing something is really fucked up. People and jokes would be completely cropped out on some showings or they would be squeezed into a small space and everyone would be really skinny.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 8:13 a.m. CST

    Close to a masterpiece

    by m_prevette

    Glad you finally saw this one Quint, welcome aboard. I've loved this movie for years and years, and it still holds up. Yes there's tons of mugging and craziness but it's light years better than any of the Adam Sandler/Will Ferrell crap that passes for comedy these days. The script is well constructed and even at the length, it never really lags. There are SO many brilliant moments here, it should be required viewing for anyone who says they're a movie have not seen comedy until you've seen this. If only MGM would go back and release the 181 minute version on DVD , it would be heaven! And yes, Shawn ruled the film lol.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 8:17 a.m. CST

    This film tore me up as a kid!

    by CeejayNightwing

    and it's still funny today, the end in particular is a riot! Sid Ceaser is priceless in this film and Spencer Tracy is GOLD. Mickey Rooney and his bunch in the airplane is another hilarious sequence from a film filled to the brim with the most craziest sequences ever! Ethel Murmen and Johnathan Winters are at their greatest in this movie, everyone should see it at least twice!

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 8:29 a.m. CST

    but this is a bicycle for a little girl....

    by earlfist

    Love this movie. Big dubya.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 8:37 a.m. CST

    Excellent movie and excellent review!

    by KnightShift

    Probably one of the best write-ups that I've ever read about this film. This is the kind of movie that would be darn nearly impossible to make these days. The scene where Jonathan Winters tears apart the gas station (right after it first open for business!) with his bare hands is one of the most over the top funny moments in cinema history. It's a wonder nobody got KILLED going after the money!

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 8:42 a.m. CST

    Phil Silvers: "You rotten kid!"

    by Crimson Dynamo

    Maybe not a great film overall, but it has great moments. Even some old comedians that I hate, like Phil Silvers and Milton Berle, were funny in this.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 9:12 a.m. CST

    One of my All-Time Favorite Comedies

    by MortGuffman

    I remember seeing this for the first time when I was six years old on the ABC Sunday Night Movie around '77-78. It was the first time I ever remember laughing so hard that I couldn't breathe. Thirty years later, it's still one of my all-time favorites. It's just sheer silliness from beginning to end and one of those rare movies that has a bare sliver of a plot, yet it works anyway. Only a filmmaker like Stanley Kubrick and a cast like that could pull it off. Fun fact - Stan Laurel was offered a cameo, but he turned it down, keeping his vow never to work after the death of Oliver Hardy.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 9:18 a.m. CST

    One of the most classic comedies

    by ricarleite

    The plot point has been used to death, but never so good as it has been on this one. Maybe it's the "several stars doing cameo" gimmick, or Spencer Tracy - who brings this whole thing to a who different level. The firefighter ladder at the end is one of my favorite scenes, even though it looks dated. And boy, this movie does look dated, but it's good nonetheless. I think you're right, it doesn't have to be 3 hours long, but don't you want to see everything? Plus, it has Milton Berle VERY gently telling Ethel Merman to stick a plant up her anus! And it's such a quotable film as well! And the theme song is still remembered even after all these years... Well, enough for now. One of my favorite films from the ones you've had on your list. Well done.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 9:19 a.m. CST

    "...including the old bag"

    by banbury

    The way Mickey Rooney and Buddy Hackett keep referring to Ethel Merman as "The Old Bag" always makes me double over laughing.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 9:20 a.m. CST

    The Theme Song!

    by MortGuffman

    I have it in my head RIGHT NOW. I actually did some "fantasy casting" back in the 90s for a remake.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 9:22 a.m. CST

    gears of war

    by unkempt_sock

    come on quint, i thought you were better than that. kneeling to that 360 bullshit

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 9:24 a.m. CST

    A terrific madcap of a movie.

    by greyspecter

    If you want a solid double feature, watch this one and "The Great Race" with Tony Curtis, Jack Lemon, and Natalie Wood. Peerless performance by Lemon on it. Wasn't the black cabbie somebody famous too? You know, Peter Faulk's cohort?<p>Dick Shawn is superb, but he's even better in the original Producers with Zero Mastel and Gene Wilder. Now THAT's a must see.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 9:29 a.m. CST

    just watched it this past week...

    by red1701

    it is a great comedy, packed with classic comic actors that reminds us of a simpler,less complicated time.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 9:42 a.m. CST

    Don't watch this at home

    by thegreatwhatzit

    Sans widescreen,you lose one of the Stooges in their cameo (as firemen, standing shoulder-to-shoulder; airport scene). And don't forget Arnold Stang ('60s supergeek who subsequntly developed a homoerotic crush on that other Arnold [Schwarzenegger] in HERCULES IN NEW YORK). Unfortunately, most of Buster Keaton's "business" was trimmed from the movie.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 9:49 a.m. CST

    Man, I love this movie. Phil Silvers is such an ass.

    by Stuntcock Mike

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 9:54 a.m. CST

    "I said it once and I'll say it again--

    by thegreatwhatzit

    I didn't want to move to California!" Stan Laurel was offered a cameo? Dman, I'd cut off a thumb if he would have eapproved. But I understand his resistance (sans Ollie): that's true (non-Holywood) bonding. Peter Falk is a lot of fun as a loud-mouth cabbie, ditto the great Phil Silvers. And watch for "Bowery Boy" Leo Gorcey's cameo as another cabbie (where was Huntz Hall?).

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 10:02 a.m. CST

    I never saw this, but the remake Rat Race

    by Grammaton Cleric Binks

    was pretty good. I should see the original.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 10:10 a.m. CST

    Never been a fan

    by eck_iii

    For me, a great cast, some great moments, but the parts don't make a good whole. Very overrated IMHO.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 10:12 a.m. CST

    "The Great Race" IS A mess

    by ricarleite

    Apart from Henry Mancini's VERY memorable score, it's sub par compared to IAMMMMW. "May you just DROP DEAD!"

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 10:13 a.m. CST

    It's good, but...

    by torpedoboy

    ..."Rat Race" was actually funnier.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 10:16 a.m. CST

    Now here's a film that should be remade by...

    by TroutMaskReplicant

    a Japanese or Korean director. Take that Hollywood!

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 10:38 a.m. CST

    Jimmy Durante kicking the bucket

    by LargoJr

    It was awesome... loved this flick

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 10:47 a.m. CST

    ABC and CBS Showed two different versions

    by rectalscan

    Each one altered slightly from the other. You had to see it on both networks in order to see the biggest chunk. It would be shown on New Years Eve and we'd have eggnog and brandy (and I was just a kid)! Still THE BEST comedy ever made p-e-r-i-o-d.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 12:23 p.m. CST


    by greyspecter

    what bothered you in the Great Race? the femminist plot? Hezekiah? What?

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 12:37 p.m. CST

    why the phil silvers bashing

    by earlfist

    Bilko is a comic performance of Herculean stature! Nat hiken was constantly amazed by Silvers and Bilko is the only truly timeless sitcom! You can knock many things but Silvers was way above Hackett and Rooney, frigging genius. Jack Benny rated Him. I rest my case.(and if anyone want to start on jack benny it's pistols at dawn)

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 12:37 p.m. CST

    I've never seen MMMMW

    by freydis

    but it seems that calling Great Race subpar compared to MMMMW is kind of ridiculous? MMMMW is one of the most famous and highly regarded comedies ever made. I'm fine with the fact that it might be better than Great Race (which is one of my personal favorites) but I don't think declaring MMMMW to be "average" is exactly fair.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 12:49 p.m. CST

    Re: greyspecter

    by ricarleite

    Mostly the pace - yes, it moves slower than MMMMW - Jack Lemmon's villain is the basis for Dick Dastardly, but it doesn't play too well, it's too farcical, and his double-role is unnecessary. The slapstick seems forced. And the end is such an anticlimax...

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 12:50 p.m. CST

    And yes I know it's supposed to be Terry Thomas

    by ricarleite

    The basis for Dastardly, but I feel Jack Lemmon's character had more of it.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 1:05 p.m. CST

    Hard to be objective about The Great Race...

    by kisskissbangbang

    since it was my introduction, at a tender, impressionable age, to Natalie Wood at her loveliest.***Sigh***

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 1:09 p.m. CST

    Some people love it, some people hate it

    by Ardee-El

    I saw at the Cinedome when I was 6. When Jonathan Winters demolished the service station, it's the only time in my life I literally fell out of my chair laughing. How can you not love a movie with the power to do that? How about Terry-Thomas' flip (or at least his stuntman's) over the bridge, thanks to Dick Shawn? Hilarious. And if you think this version is long, it originally clocked in at 192 minutes. It was a "roadshow" version with an intermission. If you went to the restroom during the break, the sound system in the lavatories were playing police broadcasts reporting on the progress of the various miscreants. Some of us hope this version and those audio recordings will still turn up.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 1:20 p.m. CST

    I love this movie...

    by REDD

    I really like the editing and the cutting back and forth between multiple scenes (years before George Lucas did it).

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 1:32 p.m. CST

    Some trivia for you

    by The Jailer

    The scene at the end with the swinging ladder was stop-motion animated by Willis O'Brien, the guy who brought King Kong to life in 1933

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 1:44 p.m. CST

    More Trivia...

    by MortGuffman

    Melvin Crump was originally supposed to be played by Ernie Kovacs opposite his real-life wife Edie Adams, but he was killed in a car accident. Also, Ethel Merman's mother-in-law was originally supposed to be a father-in-law played by Groucho Marx.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 2:02 p.m. CST

    perhaps another look at the movie...

    by captain_kirk

    My big problem with the movie was the way in which it crammed tons of people into the film just for the sake of being seen. My least favorite cameo was the 3 Stooges with Curly Joe, if only because there was no nostalgia in a moment where the celebrated hero of comedy was the 3rd or 4th stand in for the original stooge, depending on if you start counting with Shemp or with Curly

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 2:11 p.m. CST

    Great movie

    by Second Try

    Way better than Rat Race. One of my all time favorite comedies.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 2:15 p.m. CST

    I saw this at the Cinerama in Seattle!!

    by BadMrWonka

    as it was meant to be seen! god it was great. there has never been a comedy as epic as this before or since. it's just pure hilarity. Phil Silvers gets my personal vote for funniest bastard in the film, but Sid Caeser is great as well. <p>one line in the airplane scene made the entire theater laugh so hard, we all missed the next couple lines.<p>Rooney passes the headphones to Hackett, and says they want to talk to him, and hackett goes, "what, am I supposed to everything? You want me to fly the airplane, you want me to work the radio, what are you, the hostess?"<p>so funny! this is truly a great GREAT movie, and up there with The Russians are Coming as one of the greats from that era...<p>Quint, you gotta get that on your list if it isn't already...contains some of the best lines EVER!<p>"I am wounded in dignity only."

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 2:36 p.m. CST

    What a big, fine mess of a movie

    by DatoMan413

    seriously too much good stuff for me to respond in this post. All the cameos, so many that it's just fun to watch how many people you can identify! And Jonathan FREAKIN' Williams, man! At the end when it dawns on him that he's found it, that look of his into the camera, almost like his brain said HEY STUPID, TURN AROUND!<BR>BR> And one of the best lines: "Listen, you don't have to explain your mother-in-law to me, know what I mean? I mean if she was the star of some really crummy horror movie, I'd believe it!"

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 2:40 p.m. CST

    "It's undah the BIG dubaya!"

    by MistahSilvah

    Classic film from my youth. From the physical insanity of Jonathan Winter to the sad-sackness of Sid Cesar to the stoned goofiness of Dick Shawn ("I'm coming mama!" is one oft-repeated lines in our house) to the verbal eviscerations of Ethel Merman (God what magnificent BITCH she is in the movie!), its a wonderful movie to laugh at. But for all of those greats, its Spencer Tracy who has the hardest part-the Straight Man. He's what holds this film together. Glad you liked i Quint.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 2:43 p.m. CST

    The different versions

    by DatoMan413

    AMC runs a version of this movie that is quite different from the DVD (much to my dismay). Wikipedia has a pretty good page about the movie:,_mad,_mad,_mad_world

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 2:56 p.m. CST

    One thing's depressing...

    by TinkerTIW

    I loved this movie ever since I saw it on the giant screen in its original Manhattan run. Still do. The only thing that depresses me is when I watch it I invariably go "Dead...dead...alive...dead...dead..dead...alive...dead...dead..." and now we just lost Edie Adams. There will never be another one like IAMMMMW.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 4:22 p.m. CST

    One of my favorites

    by mrfan

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 4:35 p.m. CST

    The Gas Station Scene

    by Admiral Nelson

    ...where Jonathan Winters "hulks out" and destroys it with his bare hands is one of the funniest things ever committed to film, period. ("He's nuts, he's really nuts!" "We're gonna have to KILL HIM!") Yep, the film is too long, but damn, it's got so many hilarious moments and endlessly quotable bits of dialogue that you have to love it. (And as I said in another talkback, the first appearance of Dick Shawn, where he just leaps into the scene like a madman, is freaking HILARIOUS!) If you've never seen this movie, set aside 3 hours, pop some popcorn and enjoy!

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 4:57 p.m. CST


    by j3anluc

    Just the title brings back fond memories. Seeing this movie with my brother & sister during its original run & laughing so long and hard that we were hoarse the next day. The Jerry Lewis cameo was brutal & priceless. Then just when you think you can't laugh anymore without seriously hurting something, along comes the ladder scene. Good times, the only other times I've laughed as hard at the movies was seeing Blazing Saddles with my mom (she worshiped Harvey Korman), and Richard Pryor's first concert movie (which was preceded by a 3 Stooges short). Comic gold all.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 5:19 p.m. CST

    My favorite movie. I'd love to see a sequel...

    by SnapT

    ...with all the comedy stars of the modern era. RAT RACE was pretty good but it wasn't MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD II. Breckin Meyer is not one of the top comedy stars of our age.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 5:21 p.m. CST

    Do the sequel while Jerry Lewis is still alive!

    by SnapT

    I want to see him purposefully run over something else with his car.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 5:38 p.m. CST

    My favorite Comedy

    by Thorstrongstone

    Next to Animal House and Blazing Saddles. It is a bit too long (should have cut the basement scene by a few minutes), but it is fantastic even in its length. Tracy was God. We will never have a better actor in comedy or drama.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 6:33 p.m. CST

    Movie would be impossible today

    by careyleefisher

    I absolutely LOVE this movie! One of my all time favorites. We will never see a movie like this again. It would be impossible to make today because part of the charm of this movie is that every major comedian of the day was in this film. It was a Who's Who of cinematic comedy. With today's multi million dollar salaries that today's actors command and add to that 7 or 8 obligatory rewrites of today's Hollywood and you would have a budget beyond comprehension. Also, how many of today's actors with bloated egos would agree to only a cameo. The days of this kind of event picture are over.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 6:56 p.m. CST

    Oh, and while I'm at it...

    by Ardee-El

    ... shame on MGM for not spending the dough to allow Robert Harris to do a complete restoration and salvage what's still salvagable of the original "roadshow" version. Shame, shame, shame...

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 8:19 p.m. CST

    Phil Silvers rocked--

    by thegreatwhatzit

    He was playing his Bilko con man sans heart (his always yielded to his conscience on the GREAT, underrated sitcom). MAD WORLD is a clutterd film but I never miss it (love Jack Benny's cameo).

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 8:46 p.m. CST

    oh yea

    by yubnubrocks

    I remember this movie always seemed to be on Sunday afternoons... watched it many times. Always loved it and it was always like 4 hours long (with commercials). About time to introduce my son to it :)

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 9:25 p.m. CST

    who could be in a sequel?

    by Quint

    Just thinking about the who's who of comedy nature, I was trying to think of comedians of today. Who would we have? Louis CK, Ricky Gervais, Steve Carrell, Patton Oswalt, Dave Chapelle, Bob Saget, Lisa Lampanelli, Brian Posehn, Jeffrey Ross, Sarah Silverman, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, the daily show team, Jim Carrey, Jack Black, Seth Rogen, Craig Robertson, Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel... who am I forgetting? We missed the opportunity to get people like George Carlin in, but he would have been a natural. Don Rickles is still kicking around, he'd be pretty awesome...

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 9:38 p.m. CST

    Willis O' Brien worked on the effects!!!

    by darthliquidator

    Yes, the legendary "King Kong" animator worked uncredited on the film's effects...mostly on the spectacular finale which apparently involved extensive minature work. Also, I think "Mad World" was the first Cinerama film shot in a one-camera process...ditching the cumbersome procedure of using three in-synch cameras, which then required 3 in-synch projectors..which is why you can still see the dividing lines on "How The West Was Won".

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 10:04 p.m. CST

    mad mad willis o'brien

    by jofex

    Really important to note about Mad Mad World: The climactic scene with all the cast hanging on to a wildly swinging fireman's ladder was ANIMATED by none other than WILLIS O'BRIEN, after which he went home, laid down on his livingroom sofa and died. The father of Kong's final contribution to cinema.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 10:05 p.m. CST


    by jofex

    I've been meaning to write in that info all day and somebody beat me to it.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 10:14 p.m. CST

    Terry Thomas

    by jofex

    a sad bit of trivia is that the wildly talented Terry Thomas was found very near the end of his life in a cold water flat penniless, ragged and unkempt and suffering from advanced Parkinson's disease. Entertainers including Elton John led an effort to raise money for the actor's care. Good on them.

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 10:17 p.m. CST


    by fanboyspodcast

    Awesome review Quint! This is one of my all time favorites. They showed it here in MI 2 years ago at the restored Redford Theatre (complete with organ and intermission)...great time!

  • Nov. 7, 2008, 11:17 p.m. CST

    even people that lie, and steal and cheat every day...

    by malificus

    ..even THEY pay taxes. Now look, if it wasn't for all the millions of dollars this country gave yours, which you never even bothered to say thank you for, the whole phoney outfit would have sunk beneath the ocean years ago. GET OUT!!

  • Nov. 8, 2008, 3:22 a.m. CST

    its been ripped off a couple of times

    by bacci40

    most recently by rat race, which was a rip on both this movie and cannonball no, dont do a sequel or a remake...and this movie is best when watched on widescreen...saw it in its remade print at the cinerama dome...totally brilliant

  • Nov. 8, 2008, 3:26 a.m. CST

    i have a feeling that quint has never seen 12 chairs

    by bacci40

    dont know why...but i do...and i cant believe that people really found rat race funny...let alone funnier...before that, there was the million dollar challenge, and cannonball run

  • Nov. 8, 2008, 4:05 a.m. CST

    Quint, you're missing...

    by mooli_mooli

    The Pegg/Frost/Hynes triumvirate. But as has already been mentioned, there's been several horrible ripoffs, Rat Race being IMO the biggest mess.

  • Nov. 8, 2008, 4:47 a.m. CST


    by Quint

    You're right, actually. It's the only Mel Brooks film I haven't seen. I've been meaning to get to it for a while... guess I should sniff it out and throw it on the pile.<BR><BR>mooli, right... that was right in front of me! Of course, those guys should be top of the heap.

  • Nov. 8, 2008, 6:05 a.m. CST

    I really need to watch this again. What a cast.

    by Mr Nicholas

  • Nov. 8, 2008, 1:49 p.m. CST

    Burt & Dom

    by Darthkrusty

    would be perfect for cameos in our imaginary remake. Also Mike Myers, Shatner, Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, Rip Taylor, Phyllis Diller, Tom Green, Rick Moranis, Bill Murray, Ben Stiller, Johnny Knoxville, Cheech & Chong, Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Christoper Walken, Seann Willam Scott, Jason Biggs, Eugene Levy, Paul Reubens, Seinfeld, John C. Reilly, Dave Chapelle, John Cleese, Chris Tucker......

  • Nov. 8, 2008, 2:31 p.m. CST


    by Darthkrusty

    Jay & Silent Bob, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Cloris Leachman, Dan Aykroyd, Gene Wilder, Sandra Bernhard, Fry & Laurie, Kurt Russell in his Death Proof-mobile or as road-kill....

  • Nov. 8, 2008, 2:53 p.m. CST

    .. Steve Martin, Chevy Chase..

    by Darthkrusty

    okay, I'll stop now.

  • Nov. 8, 2008, 4:28 p.m. CST

    oh what the heck...

    by Darthkrusty

    .. Bill Cosby, Carol Burnett, Tim Conway, Chris Rock, Gary Coleman, Whoopi Goldberg, Harry.... Now I'm done. Probably.

  • Nov. 8, 2008, 6:57 p.m. CST

    And the lovable, megatalent High Pitch Eric

    by thegreatwhatzit

  • Nov. 8, 2008, 7:56 p.m. CST

    Jonathan Winters gas station scene

    by Garbage

    That's pretty much all I remember--he totalled that place. I remember thinking I wanted to be that brutally strong, which is kind of funny, because I ended up (physically speaking) more like the wimpy-looking gas station attendants than like any sort of strongman.

  • Nov. 9, 2008, 3:35 a.m. CST

    Well, I mean if we get there, and we dig up the money,

    by malificus

    ..then I don't think he's gonna say anything, and I KNOW he's not gonna say anything, and I'M not gonna say anything...Awww, this is a little girl's bike, this bike is for a little girl...why don't you get that bike out of the way, you know we don't want someone tripping over it in the dark...ZZZOOOMMM! I love this friggin' movie, practically every line is a quotable.

  • Nov. 9, 2008, 3:43 a.m. CST


    by malificus

    that mother-in-law line was one of my favorites, i laughed still as I read it. Winters greatest work.

  • Nov. 9, 2008, 1:43 p.m. CST

    My #1 Favorite Film

    by dannyocean

    "Go ahead... I'm gullible!" This can only be appreciated in a theater. Saw it at both The Egyptian for an cast reunion and The Cinerama Dome for an anniversary... both times was awesome. Except for Mickey Rooney at the reunion. Went on and on for years talking about his career, virtually reprising Dana Carvey's impression of him. That part was tough.

  • Nov. 9, 2008, 4:47 p.m. CST

    Before this thread slips away

    by thegreatwhatzit

    --Don't forget Eddie "Rodchester" Anderson as a cabbie (collapsing into the arms of the park's Lincoln statue). A wonderful talent (I think I'm the only bloke on this site who has seen CABIN IN THE SKY).

  • Nov. 10, 2008, 8:43 a.m. CST

    Awesome, brilliant movie

    by orcus

    So sayeth Orcus

  • Nov. 10, 2008, 11:01 a.m. CST

    This and Scavenger Hunt

    by Drath

    Introduced me to comedy. What happened to Scavenger Hunt? I'm sure it was funnier to me when I was 7 than it would be to me now when I'm....older. But It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad World is still great. I've often wondered about a round up movie with everyone who is or ever was funny and willing to work. I doubt it is remotely possible anymore to have so many personalities take part, if nothing else ego would always get in the way. But Quint, I don't think that in your imagining a current update that you should omit comedic talents like Eddie Murphy, Billy Crystal, Dan Aykroyd, Gene Wilder, Mel Brooks, Carol Burnett, Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Bette Middler, Lily Tomlin, John Goodman, Goldie Hawn, Margaret Cho, Robin Williams, Albert Brooks, the Casts of Frasier and Cheers, Wanda Sykes, the cast of Seinfeld, Ben Stiller, the Three Amigos (Chase, Martin, and Short), Whoopi Goldberg, remaining cast of MASH, Cheech and Chong, Roseanne...tons of people who are or at least were once funny. I'm afraid that excluding any of them that are interested would be elitist, choosing only one person's favorites and ignoring a lot of other tastes. I'm not that big a fan of the Appatow bunch outside of Freaks and Geeks (I often debate who is more overrated, Jack Black or Seth Rogen), but I can't ignore that they bring the funny for many.

  • Nov. 11, 2008, 1:34 a.m. CST

    fuck yeah man

    by The Amazing G

    this is available to watch instantly on Netflix

  • Nov. 12, 2008, 3:25 p.m. CST

    Jonathan Freakin' WINTERS! DAMN TYPO

    by DatoMan413

    okay, i can be forgiven for that. If you gonna mess someone's name up, at least confuse him with another genius.

  • Nov. 12, 2008, 3:35 p.m. CST

    Sigh, this is why Orcus enjoys all things in the past

    by orcus

    Because the future sucks saggy nads

  • Nov. 17, 2008, 12:13 p.m. CST

    More great lines from Jim Backus

    by JackSmack

    [In the plane] "I'm going to make an Old Fashioned." "But what if something happens!!??!" "Nonsense, what can happen to an Old Fashioned?" "I cawn't see! I cawn't see!" "He cawn't see!!!!"

  • Dec. 8, 2008, 5:36 p.m. CST

    Too Long

    by Just_Tom

    I thought it was hilarious for about 90 minutes. Problem is, it still had another 80 minutes to go, and it ended up feeling like an endurance test. I can think of very few comedies that can justify a 174 minute running time, but I could list endlessly the ones that drag too long. For some reason, you just can't sustain comedy (especially zany, slapstick like this) for this long. It becomes exhausting. I had hoped it was mercifully over when they found the big W, but no... it had so much more zanyness to go. Too big, too ambitious, too many stars with big egos whose scenes can't be cut. Would have been great at 100 minutes. Sadly, that's about the halfway point.