Saturday, February 1, 2014

IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD (1963)

What is there not to love about the epic comedy IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD?  In the opening scene Jimmy Durante goes sailing, just sailing, over a ridge next to a desert road.  Some fellow motorists pull over to see if they can help, but he's too far gone.  In his last moments right before he kicks the bucket he tells those gathered around about a treasure of 350 big ones buried 200 miles away underneath "a big W".  The witnesses dismiss it as the ravings of a dying man...but maybe it's true.  Couldn't hurt to check it out.  What follows next is the near psychopathic rampage of a bunch of nuts who will stop at nothing to be the first person to the big W.  Also since the cops don't know where the money is they decide, for whatever stupid reason, to allow these maniacs to destroy half of Southern California to see where the money is.

IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD is probably the greatest epic comedy of all time.  I can't think of anything funnier and with such an impressive cast.  The blazing pace, the comic timing, the lines, the scenery, the vehicles and more familiar faces than I even want to name!  It's more than you can take in in just one viewing.  Maybe even more than in a couple of viewings.  If you are at all interested in the classic comic actors/actresses of the 30's - 60's then IAMMMMW is a excellent starting point.  Just studying the names involved with this film alone will keep you busy for ages.  My only complaint is Jack Benny didn't have a bigger role...but then again his five word cameo is one of the funniest scenes in the movie.  Every time I think about his expression after she yells at him I crack up.   Why, oh why, didn't the movie gods see fit to have Ethel Merman and Jack Benny in a movie together?!! 

Anyway, IAMMMMW is great movie that I think is hysterically funny.  Highly recommended.  Also, even though I appreciate the expanded 197-minute version on the Criterion Blu-ray I actually prefer the quicker paced 163-minute version.