Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is a comedy movie that followed the Hollywood trend in the 1960s of producing "gigantic" and "epic" films as a way to woo audiences into movie theaters. Television had sapped the regular moviegoing audience and box office revenues were dropping, and the major studios experimented with a number of "gimmicks" to attract audiences, including widescreen films. It premiered on November 7, 1963.
Written by Tania and William Rose, not only was It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World filmed in Cinerama (the biggest of the widescreen cinema technologies), it also had an all-star cast, with literally dozens of major comedy stars from all eras of cinema making appearances in the film.
Stars of this film included (alphabetical):
- Edie Adams as Monica Crump, wife of Melville Crump
- Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson as a cab driver
- Milton Berle as edible seaweed salesman, J. Russell Finch
- Sid Caesar as dentist, Melville Crump (a role originally meant for Ernie Kovacs before his death in a car accident)
- Jimmy Durante as Smiler Grogan
- Peter Falk as a cab driver
- Buddy Hackett as gambler, Benjy Benjamin
- Ethel Merman as Mrs. Marcus, mother-in-law of J. Russell Finch
- Dorothy Provine as Emeline Marcus-Finch, wife of J. Russell Finch
- Mickey Rooney as gambler, Ding Bell
- Dick Shawn as Sylvester Marcus, Emmaline's brother
- Phil Silvers as Otto Meyer
- Terry-Thomas as Lt. Col. Algernon Hawthorne
- Spencer Tracy as Captain Culpepper
- Jonathan Winters as truck driver, Lennie Pike
There were also cameo appearances by:
- Jim Backus as Tyler Fitzgerald
- Jack Benny as man in the car
- Ben Blue as the biplane pilot
- Joe E. Brown as the union official
- William Demarest as the chief of police
- Andy Devine as the sheriff
- Norman Fell as a detective
- Stan Freberg as a deputy sheriff
- Sterling Holloway as the fire chief
- Edward Everett Horton as Mr. Dinckler
- Buster Keaton as Jimmy the boatman
- Don Knotts as the nervous motorist
- Charles Lane as the airport manager
- Jerry Lewis as man who runs over hat
- Zasu Pitts as the switchboard operator
- Carl Reiner as the tower controller
- Arnold Stang as Ray, the garage man
- and the Three Stooges as firemen
The plot of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World follows the occupants of four vehicles who stop to help a man who has just careened off the highway. With his dying breaths, the man tells the bystanders about $350,000 that he hid in the town of Santa Rosita, less than a day's drive away, under “the big W”. A wild race across the desert follows, as each carload of people tries to be first to find the money and claim it for themselves.
Stanley Kramer claimed he wanted to make the ultimate comedy film. At more than two and a half hours (originally including an intermission) it is certainly one of the longest. Most of the humor is not especially sophisticated, consisting mainly of very noisy slapstick gags. Terry-Thomas's character's rant against the American obsession with bosoms still strikes a chord with non-American audiences. The movie is a showcase for these fabulous comedians because each plays his role in his own comedic style. For example, preserved for all time is classic Phil Silvers, classic Milton Berle, even classic Buster Keaton.
The New Avengers episode "The Tale of the Big Why" seems to have borrowed part of its storyline from IAMMMMW - at the end of the episode the characters realise they are looking not for a metaphysical "big why" but a physical "big Y".
In an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures, the characters, following a treasure map , find that they have not been looking for an X marked in the sand, but the location where the shadows of two crossed palm trees falls. Of course, this would change throughout the day, but that does not matter in the greater scheme of the plot (see suspension of disbelief).
A 1994 episode of The Simpsons, "Homer the Vigilante," features money supposedly hidden beneath a "big T," along with other elements borrowed from the movie.
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