It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
Directed by Stanley Kramer
Written by William Rose and Tania Rose
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental
Lennie Pike: Then what happens next? I’ll tell you what happens: Then they all decide that I’m supposed to get a smaller share! That I’m somebody extra special stupid, or something! That they don’t even care if it’s a democracy! And in a democracy, it don’t matter how stupid you are, you still get an equal share!
I’ve laughed at and loved this movie from the time I saw it on original release as a pre-teen. It stands up extremely well!
Just about every TV comedian of the 50’s and early 60’s shows up in this romp along with most of the other comics you could think of in cameos. The framework is as follows. Various cars traveling through the desert stop at the scene of an accident. The men go to see if they can help. They find Smiler Grogan (Jimmy Durante) about to kick the bucket – literally. Before he does, he tells them that he has buried $350,000 under a “Big W” at Santa Rosa State Park.
The people discuss cooperating but when they cannot decide on shares, it is every man for himself!
So begins a cross-country race by car (and plane) to arrive first and claim the dough. Just about everything that can go wrong does – hilariously – along the way. The police, headed by Capt T. G. Culpepper (Spencer Tracy,) watch on in bemusement. Among the claimants are: Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Jonathan Winters, Micky Rooney, Buddy Hackett, Phil Silvers, and Terry-Thomas. Ethel Merman plays the mother-in-law from hell and Dick Shawn is her mama’s boy son. Blink and you might miss Jerry Lewis, Jack Benny, the Three Stooges, Buster Keaton, etc., etc., etc.
Oh my gosh. It’s hard to single out the funniest parts of this. See below for Winters and Silvers standing off. There’s also a fabulous fist fight between Berle and Terry-Thomas. Really it’s one gag after another. You don’t have time to breathe! Highly recommended.
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World won the Academy Award for Best Effects, Sound Effects. It was nominated in the categories of Best Cinematography, Color; Best Sound; Best Film Editing; Best Music, Original Song (“It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”); and Best Music, Score – Substantially Original.
Montage of fantastic scenes! – this had me laughing all over again even though I just saw it yesterday