It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

7.52 h 39 min1963X-RayG
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 lootand the most side-splitting laughfest in history.
Stanley Kramer
Spencer TracyMilton BerleSid Caesar
English [CC]
Audio languages
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4.7 out of 5 stars

6114 global ratings

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johnfReviewed in the United States on October 21, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
The Epic Comedy that can never be remade.
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There can never be a true remake of this classic comedy. A few have tried claiming they were "inspired by" but have failed anyway. Stanley Kramer's epic "Comedy to end all comedies" had an amazing cast of comic actors old and (at that time) new which could never be recreated. It is a snapshot of a particular moment in time when comedians stretching back to the borscht belt and vaudeville met up with a new generation of comics working in clubs and on television. In fact many who had had small careers in films had found a much larger audience in the relatively new medium of TV. It may not be the funniest film ever made - that is every person's own opinion - but it is funny and succeeds in the impossible task of keeping up an atmosphere of comic mayhem for over a 2 1/2 hour running time. Enormously popular in its day (it was the third highest grossing film of 1963 taking in over 45 million) it has become a greatly beloved classic even now, over fifty years later.

It was written by British screenwriter William Rose, who had written the Alec Guiness comedy, The Ladykillers. It was written originally as a madcap chase through Scotland. He sent an outline to director Stanley Kramer. I'd love to know why, because Kramer was a director of big, serious films with important social messages like The Defiant Ones (racism), On the Beach (atomic war), Inherit the Wind (freedom of speech) and Judgement at Nuremberg (the aftermath of World War II). He would seem like the worst possible choice to pitch a comedy to, but maybe the word was out that Kramer was interested in making a comedy, perhaps to not be typecast. Once things got going, the production, much like the film itself, took on a momentum of its own and soon practically every comedian in town was calling Kramer asking to be in it.

There are so many great actors in roles big, small and in cameos that it would take up too much space to name them all. It was great to see some of the older cast members like Jimmy Durante, Ethel Merman and Milton Berle go out with a big film that would be remembered. Actors in smaller roles often put in hilarious performances doing their usual schitck. Paul Ford as the bumbling Colonel Wilberforce (he had been the bumbling Colonel Hall on the Phil Silvers Show); Jim Backus as rich alcoholic Tyler Fitzgerald (it adds an extra laugh to know he was the well-known spokesman for Western Airlines whose tagline was "It's the only way to fly"); and Don Knotts in his nervous man routine. British comedian Terry-Thomas got roles in major pictures for years afterwards. Some faces, like Jesse White (TV's Maytag repair man) were only known from television exposure, which is probably missed by aOne would have wanted to see the cameo actors a little longer and some were underused (Stan Freberg, Edward Everett Horton) but the movie was originally over three hours as it was. The Three Stooges are only on for a few seconds and don't actually do anything but stand there but I can attest that they got a huge laugh from the audience just for being there.

All of the principals were at their best. Even when they didn't have a line, just watching their faces is hilarious. But it was Jonathan Winters in his first film role who is most remembered. His eight minutes of total mayhem in Ray & Irwin's Garage is one of the great comic scenes in any movie. Again I can attest that in its first run in late '63 the audience was in a state of total sustained pandemonium almost literally rolling in the aisles as this scene played out. I've never again experienced an audience in so complete a state of hysteria.

The film also has great support from the entire production team. There is one of the great comic scores of all time by Ernest Gold, a mad carousel-out-of control theme that wildly creates the right mood during legendary animator Saul Bass's creative title sequences. Despite its assertive character the music doesn't try to dominate the film but drops in now and then to enliven a driving scene that would look dull if silent or to accent brief moments of pandemonium. The film was beautifully shot in Super Panovision 70, which simulated a Cinerama effect without the "seams" created by the old three-camera process. And the scenery is spectacular with the Southern California desert, coastal towns and aerial footage. The editing, sound effects people and stuntmen were all major contributors to the film's success.

Not everyone liked it and this is still true. A number of the critics of the day dismissed it as too dumb for words. But you have to understand that many critics of that era and before were very high toned and felt only films of great intellectual depth were worth seeing. Bergman, yes, but not something like this. It took until the early 80's for film critics to loosen up a bit and admit they could like both types of films. Others found it too long and too slapstick. Both accusations are true in their way but this was meant to be gargantuan and its excess is part of its nature. Also, a big film made with a big budget had to be pitched to a large general audience and so it needed to have lots of broad humor and not be a witty comedy of manners or something like that. Besides, it's kind of an homage to the whole history of film comedy and actually uses a lot of classic silent comedy bits. All in all the film knows exactly what it is doing, building on its momentum to its conclusion. And it's still a Stanley Kramer film and does contain a deep, cynical observation that totally nice, everyday people can go entirely insane over money as can the entire culture. The movie ends nicely with what could be a nod to Preston Sturges' Sullivan's Travels, illustrating the value of laughter on the simplest level with the oldest joke in the world.

Amazon's streamed film looks beautiful. I saw a streamed version a few years ago in the early days of streaming and it looked terrible because it had that over-sampling problem that made it look like daytime television, like it had been shot on somebody's video camera. I'm happy to say there's no trace of that. There are some great tributes, interviews and clips etc. on YouTube and I'd like to point out two really good ones. One posted by The Criterion Collection as "Location Comparison" shows many of the main locations then and now. There are others like this but this one is professionally shot at the exact camera angle as the film. The second is a "Cast Guide" that posts the name and dates of virtually everyone who appeared in the film while showing you a scene they're in.

EXTRA NOTE: A few major comics wanted to be in the film but couldn't for one reason or another. Bob Hope's studio wouldn't lend him out even for a cameo. Lucille Ball was too tied up with her TV show being taped for the coming season. Red Skelton's manager wanted him to be paid the same as the primary cast even for a cameo. Stan Laurel sent regrets but said he had sworn never to appear in a film again after Oliver Hardy's death and could not break his word.
117 people found this helpful
Paul S. PersonReviewed in the United States on March 12, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
Everything It Claims To Be
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This is the 3-disc 2017 DVD edition.
The extras were interesting, particularly those on the discs with the movies.
The general release is, in a word, perfect.
The restored edition is not bad. It includes the new footage in the prior special edition, which looks better here. The new new footage (so to speak) is mostly very short bits finishing up familiar sequences. There are some longer additions that use stills because only the audio is available, but there is at least one new sequence that has probably not been seen since it was shown in Cinerama toward the end. A fair number of subtitles appear because the last word of a phrase is missing from the soundtrack. At first, this was disconcerting but, by the mid-point, it was simply part of the show.
If I understand the timing right, there are still about 8 minutes missing, but, if Criterion couldn't find them, I suspect they are well and truly gone.
It should be understood that the restoration was intended to restore the original film to the extent possible; thus, in restoring the color, some unrestored bits remained at the edges (this is shown in the restoration featurette on the restored film DVD). One can only speculate that using CGI technology would have allowed those areas to be colored quite convincingly but one also suspects that the restorer's would have regarded that as a profanation.
The explanation for the missing sound made no sense, but perhaps I did not understand it properly.
Oh, and each version is one one side of its own DVD. No flipping, no swapping discs here!
And, for those worried about shelf space, it all fits into a single-disc-width package. No separate cases, no cardboard case.
44 people found this helpful
John J. SchauerReviewed in the United States on September 19, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
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O.K., I know a lot of critics say this movie isn't as funny as it tries to be, although I beg to differ. Even when it isn't laugh-out-loud funny, it's still a lot of fun to watch, but I suspect viewers under a certain age won't derive as much enjoyment. One of the paramount distinctions of this film is the unbelievable cast: virtually every major comedian who was active at the time makes an appearance somewhere or other, a tour-de-force of casting that constantly impresses. However, if you aren't familiar with these people and view them simply as anonymous actors who happened to be cast in their respective roles, the final result will be far less impressive. But the fact remains this is a landmark project that still yields a lot of smiles, giggles, and, yes, laugh-out-loud moments. And one more major plus: this actually is a wholesome movie fit for the entire family; unlike virtually every comedy being made today, Kubrick never once resorts to disgusting gags about feces, vomit, or flatulence, which is what sadly passes for wit and humor in today's society.
17 people found this helpful
Vernon A. MillerReviewed in the United States on January 27, 2014
4.0 out of 5 stars
An interesting new view of the movie
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This has been one of my favorite movies forever, and I own it on Laserdisc (either one or two versions, don't remember which) and DVD (at least two versions) already. So this edition was a must-have for me.

I got a kick out of the 197-minute extended version and I recommend it to anyone who knows and appreciates this movie already. I thought many of the added scenes in the really did bring value to the movie; some of them nicely filled in some continuity gaps that exist in the shorter releases.

However, I think that the extended version should NOT be the one you show to friends who have never seen the movie before - because of the variable quality of the material that Robert Harris and his team had to work with, some of the inserts are just too jarring if you're not already familiar with the movie. Show them the 154 minute, more polished version first.

Note that the extended version includes the original overture, intermission, entr'acte, and exit music. During part of the intermission, there is a time where the screen is totally black for several minutes, but police radio calls are played periodically on audio only. This was (and still is) intended to keep the audience posted on the action that is continuing to happen in the timeline of the film during intermission. It's great because, again, it provides better continuity - for example, you hear that Finch (Berle) and Hawthorne (Terry-Thomas) have stopped at an Avis location and rented a blue Chevy, which explains how they ended up with that that new blue car after intermission. (Ahh, product placement even back then! :-) But it is a bit unnerving, because there are longish periods of black screen with no sound at all, and your impulse is to think something went wrong with your Blu-Ray player or TV. Just relax, all is well :-)
266 people found this helpful
Jeffs Honest OpinionReviewed in the United States on April 2, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Short version here but high quality
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I'm not going to go into the movie because if you're reading this you probably already know the plot and actors.
I bought this on Amazon under the "multi format" DVD which was $20 cheaper than the one listed as a Blu-ray. This confused me a little because the multiformat one is listed as a Blu-Ray as well. I received a single Blu-ray in the case with the 160 minute version of the movie. Halfway through, the intermission does pop up for a second but then disappears and returns to the scene with a fuse leading to Dynamite. It does have a couple extended features And an interview but I did not watch them.
I was really looking for the long version of the movie (191 minutes) and this was not it and this was not it. I know & remember from my childhood scenes that are not included in this Edition.
It is a Blu-ray, the picture was great the sound was great even some surround sound effects came through & it is in a ultra wide format on my TV.

I'm still looking for the long version of the movie.
16 people found this helpful
Douglas HReviewed in the United States on October 25, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Restored longer version is great!
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I love this movie, and discovered that the original version was cut from I think 197 minutes to 163 minutes, to help the box office traffic. As usual back then, they discarded the original full version for some reason. They found a sound track to the original longer cut, and filled in the missing scenes with out takes, etc. This has both versions. The longer restored version is great. They had to find scrap footage to use and restore to the longer soundtrack which they had found. They did a good job. Some of the restored scenes have funky color or some other defect, which is actually good, because you can often tell right away which parts were restored and added in to the shorter version, which is the version we are used to seeing. Right away you realize, "Oh, this part wasn't in the shorter version". There are 3 DVDs and there is a lot of bonus material to go through. If you love It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad world, you'll love the restored version too.
4 people found this helpful
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United States on April 11, 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars
IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD [1963] [The Criterion Collection Special Edition] [Blu-ray + DVD]
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Because Amazon has a very moralistic attitude to any explicit sexual references or explicit swear words in a Blu-ray Review, I have decided to remove this Blu-ray Review of IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD [The Criterion Collection Special Edition] [Blu-ray + DVD] will now appear in my very professional Google Chrome web site from February 2019. Also in 2018, Amazon brought in another restrictive practice, whereas if you buy a Blu-ray Title in a country where Amazon is trading, you can now only post that Blu-ray Review in that country; whereas with my web site there are no restrictions, so see you there. Andrew C. Miller
36 people found this helpful
David JordanReviewed in the United States on November 4, 2018
2.0 out of 5 stars
Atrociously overlong
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You may have heard that brevity is the soul of wit. The people who put this movie together clearly didn't get the memo. It just goes on and on forever with the same slapstick gags over and over, and at a certain point it becomes painful. A comedy just can't be so long that they had to put an intermission in it. There is a good movie hiding in here, but it desperately needs to be trimmed down to maybe an hour and a half rather than the almost three hours here.

I saw part of this on TV as a kid and I thought it was hysterical. Some of that is probably that kids appreciate slapstick more than grown-ups. But then, I also didn't have to sit through the whole thing. So I was quite surprised at how boring it turned out to be.

But having said all that, it's well made, and has a stellar cast. A who's who of a past generation. And it's a surprisingly elaborate production for a comedy. And quite beautifully filmed. I liked all of the shots of the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica without any traffic. Was it really that uncongested in the early sixties? Must have been wonderful. (On the other hand, at the edge of one shot it looked like you could see the police blocking traffic, so maybe it was just cleared out for the filming).
6 people found this helpful
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