Favorite Scene Theatre: It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)

Oh boy, do I LOVE this movie. As any self-respecting film comedy fan should. Although IAMMMMW has taken a critical drubbing from some quarters over the year — particularly Danny Peary, who included it in his indispensable Cult Movies book series, but doesn’t have much good to say about the film, finding it low in physical slapstick and mean-spirited. But I think this represents Stanley Kramer’s dark id, since his work dealt so sensitively with issues and people (THE DEFIANT ONES; ON THE BEACH; INHERIT THE WIND; GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER); it’s nice that for one production he let out his angst with a cast of greedy rotters.

I agree that it should be funnier given the mega-all-star-comedy wattage, but I adore the sheer 70mm Cinerama Roadshow chutzpah of the thing. And Dick Shawn makes me laugh out loud every time he does his boho beach-nik dance. Plus Jonathan Winters (“But this is a bike. A bike for little girls”) and Phil Silvers (“What’s with the little kiddie bicycle? What are you, some kind of nut?”) kill and the cameos galore are the adornments on the over-size cake. God Bless Robert Harris in his restoration efforts.

It’s impossible to pick one favored bit of IAMMMMW, but one of the most memorable remains the brief appearance of the Three Stooges, who were in the midst of a surprising 60’s revival due to their shorts playing all over the tube. I love this tribute scene that sadly doesn’t put them in action, but sets up their iconic incompetence. For once in their career, Stanley Kramer gave the Three Stooges their finest directed moment.


2 Responses to “Favorite Scene Theatre: It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)”

  1. THE FUTURIST! once read that during intermission the audience, while in the lobby buying confections and/or using the lavatory, could hear a police scanner announcing sightings of the mad cap bunch over an intercom.

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