It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Spencer Tracy heads a hilariously zany cast that stars Hollywood’s greatest comedians (Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney, Dick Shawn, Phil Silvers, Terry-Thomas and Jonathan Winters) and features cameo appearances by every joker and jester in the business from DonKnotts and Jerry Lewis to The Three Stooges. Nominated* for 6 OscarsÂ(r), It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is “an explosive motion picture experience” (Variety)! On a winding desert highway, eight vacation-bound motorists share an experience that alters their plansand their lives! After a mysterious stranger divulges the location of a stolen fortune, they each speed off in a mind-bending, car-bashing race for the loot and the most side-splitting laughfest in history.Stanley Kramer’s sprawling 1963 comedy about a search for buried treasure by at least a dozen people–all played by well-known entertainers of their day–is the kind of mass comedy that Hollywood hasn’t made in many years. (Anoth

Rating: (out of 364 reviews)

List Price: $ 14.98

Price: $ 6.98

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5 thoughts on “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

  1. Review by curtis martin for It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
    I’m not going to go into a review of the 1963 film “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” This is one of those films that’s almost beyond reviewing–you either love it or you hate it. I love it, and have loved it for more than 30 years, ever since my Mom took me to see it in its 1970 theatrical re-release. It’s a classic.What I want to talk about here is the new DVD version of the movie. Is it good? “Yes emphatically” and “yes kinda” at the same time. The main drawback for the dvd is the aspect ratio-strange for a widescreen 16×9 enhanced dvd, yes? Let me explain.For decades since I saw it on the big screen, the only version I was able to see of “Mad4World” was the pan-and-scan version-which meant for years I was seeing only about half the picture. I thought myself lucky when I recently caught a “widescreen” version of the movie on cable TV (either Turner Classic or American Movie Classics, I forget which-probably TCM since my tape has no damn commercials stuck in the middle of it). Unfortunately, this version was only a small bit “wider” than the pan and scan; but it was better than what I’d seen on TV previously. You see, “M4World” started its life as a ultra widescreen Cinerama movie. That means its picture was not only super-wide, having been shot in 70mm SuperPanavision, but that it was also projected onto a curved screen that wrapped around the audience, taking up almost all your peripheral vision if you sat in the front part of the auditorium. An anamorphic lens was used in the projector which distorted the picture at the edges in order for them to look normal when projected on the huge curved screen. The original aspect ratio was 2.55:1.So the point I’m trying to make is that this was a VERY widescreen movie. And now we have a very widescreen transfer on DVD. Now we can see more of the film than we have been able to in years, right? Good, right?Well, yes and no. You see, for some reason, MGM has put “Mad4World” out not at a 2:55 aspect ratio, but at a slightly narrower 2:35 aspect ratio. This might not seem like such a bad thing, but the surprising result is that there are many things I can see on my old vhs tape of the pan-and scan version that I cannot see on this widescreen DVD!The reason is this: as I said, this widescreen version is slightly less wide than the original, and often characters on either the far left or far right sides of the screen are cut off a bit. In my old P&S version, the person who had done the panning and scanning simply panned all the way to the right or left side of the picture if the action was on that side, showing that character fully (but of course showing the characters on the other side not at all). In this new dvd (not-quite) wide (enough) screen version there is, of course, no panning and scanning; the 2:35 picture is simply shown. Unfortunately it is a slightly smaller picture than what was originally there, and often the result is characters cut off at the shoulder.Of course, this is MUCH better than anything we’ve had on home video before. And MGM should be praised for releasing the DVD at such a reasonable price, and with some decent extras. I just wonder why they didn’t go ahead and transfer the film at its original aspect ratio.
    If I have to look at Phil Silvers, I wanna see BOTH his shoulders, dammnit!

  2. Review by Marvin R. Doering for It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
    I really wanted to like this DVD. I have the movie on VHS and enjoy it a lot. My reason for rating it so low was that it had almost 23 minutes missing from what was on the restored DVD version, including several memorable Phil Sivers moments. I see no reason why a DVD should offer less than the VHS. Shame on the producers of the DVD. What could they possibly have been thinking?

  3. Review by Benjamin J Burgraff for It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
    As the first film I ever paid to see as a child (I was 11, and so proud of saving up the money!) I loved “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”. It was slapstick on a grand scale, with a clever commentary on greed thrown in. And the cast! Tracy, Berle, Caesar, Silvers, Winters, Rooney, Hackett, Shawn, Terry-Thomas, Falk, Rochester…and the 3 Stooges had a bit part, along with Jack Benny, Jerry Lewis, Buster Keaton, so many more! For one of the first generation of ‘TV Kids’, I was in Heaven!With adulthood, and changing tastes, I can see some of the film’s flaws…It’s too long, Spencer Tracy is obviously in poor health and straining to keep his energy level up, some of the scenes (especially the early ones) lack pacing, and the Cinerama format almost guarantees you’ll miss part of the action, even in a wide-screen format.But the film’s sense of joy is undimmed, and the new digitally-remastered edition is offering gives them full attention. Enjoy again Rooney and Hackett’s mishandling of an airplane, Jonathan Winter’s gas station destruction scene (a classic!), and, of course the bodies-flying finale.And hang in there…After the film is a ‘Making of…’ documentary, with FABULOUS ancedotes by the surviving cast members…It alone is worth the cost of the film!After 36 years, I STILL love this movie!

  4. Review by Mark Baker for It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
    It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is a classic comedy. Combining big name talent, it tells the story of what happen when a group of strangers finds out where $50,000 is buried. Soon, these normally law-abiding citizens are speeding, stealing, and destroying property. What they don’t know is the police are observing them the entire time. As the situations get more out of hand, the movie gets funnier.I wasn’t that impressed the first time I saw this movie. But on repeated viewings with friends, I’ve come to enjoy it more. The actors are phenomenal and the material has a timelessly funny quality to it. I’m young enough that I don’t recognize all the stars, but that doesn’t diminish my enjoyment at all.I was excited when I found out that the movie was coming to DVD, but I’ve got to say the final product disappointed me. I have only seen the “restored” VHS version that’s been out for years. This DVD goes back to the original theatrical release and cuts out some of my favorite scenes. They are included in the deleted scenes section, but it’s a very poorly thought out section that makes it hard to find what you want to see. The DVD does include good picture and sound, and I have always enjoyed the documentary included from the videos.This is a classic movie that everyone should see. However, if you’re a fan of the recent videos, be forewarned that this is not the entire movie you are used to seeing. Hopefully, this movie will be reissued on DVD with this footage added back.

  5. Review by Stephen H. Wood for It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
    Stanley Kramer’s IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD (1963, UA) is my favorite comedy of the sound era and the most fondly remembered movie of my 1960’s childhood in the San Francisco Bay Area. It has a sunny and airy mood, the comedy cast of a lifetime, sharp and hilarious dialogue, an irrestible greed plot, a melodic music score by Ernest Gold, and furious pacing for almost, or just over, three hours (depending on what version you are watching). The more I watch it on DVD at 161 minutes or at 182 minutes on Turner Classic Movies, the more I love it and want to see the long-lost 192 minute Cinerama world premiere version.

    MAD WORLD does something right that every other movie of its type gets wrong–it starts a chase plot in reel one, then develops character outward as we go along. It does not spend 45 minutes setting up the story, as similar movies do. In the opening scene, a dying millionaire (Jimmy Durante) tells a group of people in the Southern California desert that a large sum of money is buried “under a big W” in a park south of San Diego. Mickey Rooney and Buddy Hackett are gag writers headed for Las Vegas. Milton Berle is headed for a vacation with wife Dorothy Provine and Ethel Herman as the mother-in-law to beat all mothers-in-law. Sid Caesar and Edie Adams are a dentist and his wife. And Jonathan Winters is driving a van of furniture. Monitoring all of them, as they race after the money, is Spencer Tracy as the coastal city (a compilation of Long Beach and Santa Monica) police captain with a wall map.

    So we have a slapstick chase movie to end all slapstick chase movies. (WARNING: PLOT SPOILERS AHEAD!!) Heading a golden age of television cast are Caesar and Adams, who get to fly in a makeshift plane, then get locked in a hardware store basement. In a career performance, Winters hilariously gets to completely demolish a desert gas station. Berle has a running battle with the mother-in-law from Hell, Merman, who in turn has been given some gloriously acidic dialogue by superb sreenwriters William and Tania Rose. The Roses have never been given enough credit here. All of the sublime dialogue is on the printed page. Along the way, Winters meets up with Phil Silvers, who in turn mixes up with miner Mike Mazurki. Silvers is staggeringly funny with a car at the bottom of a canyon, then later drowning in a river. Rooney and Hackett are in another plane that flies through a Coke billboard after pilot Jim Backus knocks himself unconscious. There is also Dick Shawn as Merman’s lifeguard son at Silver Strand Beach. And a phone running battle in his inner police office with Tracy and his wife and daughter that escalates over a simple vacation. And this is only part one, before the film’s intermission! Part two has some of the funniest dialogue and greatest car chases in all of movie history for me. And the grand climax has never been topped for me–not even by silent era clowns.

    MAD WORLD got mixed reviews when it opened city by city in late 1963, right before President Kennedy’s tragic death in Dallas. The positive ones praised a wonderful cast and hilarious chase plot. The negative reviews said it was too long and repetitious at 193 minutes. So producer/director Kramer and his editors carefully cut the Cinerama world premiere version, two months into its run, to 162 minutes. It played in 70mm Cinerama engaggements at 162 minutes until 35mm engagements in Spring 1965. It was further cut then to 154 minutes with roadshow music and intermission removed. All 35mm prints today–and since 1965–run 154 minutes. The DVD, which may or may not still be for sale, restores roadshow music and runs 161 minutes. At an aspect ratio of 2.55, it also blessedly comes close to restoring the ultra-wide widescreen images of the original film. Maddeningly, though, this 161 minute DVD print is curiously missing the Oscar-nominated title song overture.

    But there is also a 182 minute print of MAD WORLD (!), restored by my dear filmmaker friend Paul Scrabo, MGM executives, and a dying Kramer in 1991. That is the version that hit VHS and laserdisc in 1991 with a splendid hour-long documentary that I wish could be seen nowadays. It briefly surfaced on one DVD edition, then removed from another that has no bonus material. (So we have two different 161 minute DVD prints that may both be on moratorium! One with a lot of bonuses and one with none. It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world!) Anyway, the 1991 documentary combines behind-the-scenes filmmaking with cast/crew reminiscences. Almost everyone recalls a lot of hard work in desert heat, but also a heck of a lot of slapstick fun. One other thing I love about the movie is that the Southern California desert landscapes are deserted for miles–no other cars and no homes, just an occasional truck and gas station.

    For 22 years, Paul and I and others have been on a futile quest to restore IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD back to its original 192 minute Cinerama world premiere length. The closest we have come is the 182 minute reconstruction on home video and cable TV, and it includes preview material. So we are still missing at least ten minutes of crucial visual material and as much as fifteen minutes. Included in the still lost material (I have the complete script–I think) are Shawn stealing his married girlfriend’s (!) convertible, more of Buster Keaton’s cameo as a crook, getting Jim Backus INTO a shower he subsequently is removed from, the identity of a strange man in the police station (he is a police reporter told to sit on the story for now), Tracy learning who Silvers is (an unemployed piano player and gambler), and the beginning of almost all the police office scenes. Current prints, including the 182, join them in progress.

    There are easy-to-find Internet articles on Stanley Kramer’s immortal masterpiece that claim the great Robert Harris and James Katz, who restored VERTIGO and MY FAIR LADY among others, want to reconstruct MAD WORLD. My Internet sources claim Harris has in his possession “188 minutes of bona fide world premiere footage.” Only four minutes missing off the original 192 minute print–close enough for me! The Internet claims further that Harris just is waiting for a $2 million purchase order–lunch money in today’s Hollywood–to do the work that needs to be done to restore this wonderful movie back to the length it ran when it opened in Los Angeles on November 7, 1963; the version that early in 1964 got six Oscar nominations.

    We owe it to the memory of a great filmmaker and a magnificent cast, many still very much alive, to reconstruct and restore IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD from 154 or 161 minutes to 192 minutes for theatrical re-release (it has always been an audience favorite) and letterboxed 2.76 ratio home video sales. It is a precious part of our cinematic and cultural heritage. THIS REVIEW IS BASED ON THE 161 MINUTE DVD and 182 MINUTE CABLE TV PRINTS.

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