“It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”

Heres another big screen classic, from 1963, the BIG American comedy.

Directed by Stanley Kramer, who was involved in the making of the wonderful “Inherit The Wind” and “High Noon”, it has a cast list of ‘comedians’ as long as your arm: Milton Berle, Phil Silvers, Mickey Rooney, Terry-Thomas, Ethel Merman… it goes on. There was also Spencer Tracy.

The story begins with Jimmy Durante driving off a cliff and kicking the bucket. Before he does, he tells a number of strangers in cars a clue to finding his hidden stolen money, under a big W. So they go off to find it. It’s a race.

It’s a long film (including interval), at over three hours, loud (everyone shouts all the time), coarse beyond belief (hey, American humour is not known for being subtle) and, once in a while, mildly funny. But there are great guests to see: Buster Keaton, Arnold Stang, Jerry Lewis etc.

There is one bit, though, that we love. Towards the very end, the money is being dug up (sorry, slight spoiler). They are all there, including Tracy as the policeman. No-one knows who he is. Buddy Hackett looks at Tracy and for a brief moment there is a sad smile, totally innocent.

It’s available on disc with missing scenes restored as best as possible. It was shot in Ultra Panavision 70 and released in Cinerama so it is best seen on the big screen.

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