A group of strangers come across a man dying after a car crash who proceeds to tell them about the $350,000 he buried in California. What follows is the madcap adventures of those strangers as each attempts to claim the prize for himself.
It's every man (and old bag) for himself. It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World is one of those films that as a child I went to the cinema to watch and then proceeded to talk about it enthusiastically in the playground for weeks afterwards. So I find myself here in my middle age with mixed feelings after just revisiting this extravaganza for the first time in many a year. It's very much a film of three parts to me, and each part impacts differently on the entertainment scale. The first part of this multi cast piece is as madcap and as mirthful as you could honestly wish to see, but this sadly ill prepares you for a middle part that outstays its welcome to the point that you can't believe they stretched it to an original cut of 3 hours! The final third of the film saves it from smug overkill because by now you have invested so much time into the film, you thank the gods for any sort of frivolity - and thankfully the film does lift you back up to the happy place that you had visited an hour previously. The cast are fine, where some brilliant shows are mixed in with the merely acceptable ones, and I wouldn't want to be so churlish as to dissect each actors respective show. However, as a Phil Silvers fan I'm rewarded plenty enough and as a Spencer Tracy acolyte I'm burning candles again in his honour. Yet it's Ethel Merman as Mrs. Marcus that lives long and glorious in the memory here, and honestly I feel the film is worth a watch purely just for her. The set pieces are fine and the stunts are truly a feast for the eyes, but ultimately one comes away thinking this film should have been a masterpiece instead of the overkilled and overlong experience that it is. 6.5/10
_**Epic screwball comedy-adventure with an all-star cast is overlong**_ Released in 1963, “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” is grand comedy-adventure about several motorists in the remote desert of Southern Cal learning of a buried cache of moolah in Santa Rosita State Park along the coast 200 miles south. A mad scramble to get to the money ensues. The cast is superlative with too many old-time greats to cite. The opening is compelling, the first act culminating with an amusing sequence where Jonathan Winters’ character levels a gas station in the desert. The wild close with the fire truck ladder and corresponding hospital gag is also superb entertainment. The middle of the film, while fun, can get tedious because emptyheaded shenanigans can only hold your interest for so long. In other words, the movie’s just too long for such madcap misadventures. Nevertheless, it’s a fun, energetic flick with top-rate locations and this is the only way to see so many classic celebrities on screen together. The theatrical cut runs 2 hours, 41 minutes whereas the longest cut runs 3 hours, 30 minutes. There are several other cuts. It was shot entirely in various areas of Southern Cal. GRADE: B-