It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) — On a wacky race to a hidden treasure

“Except you lady, may you just drop dead!”

Andie’s rating: Go for the W!

Andie’s review: Okay, so for the longest time my family has owned this movie because I gave it to my mom for her birthday once because it’s one of her favorite movies. I always meant to watch it, but it’s two cassettes long and that always seemed that too much time to set aside for a movie. Thankfully, I finally took the time to watch this movie and I’m so glad I did because it’s truly a classic comedy of Hollywood.

First off, this is not the type of movie for people who think Tommy Boy is comedic genius. Now, I like Tommy Boy and other movies from that genre, but this is not that type of movie. Mad World’s comedy is so much subtler than movies that come out nowadays that I don’t know if the average moviegoer today could appreciate it. But if you find yourself a fan of Annie Hall or Some Like it Hot or It Happened One Night, then this is the movie for you.

The premise is that four cars of people are traveling down a highway when another car crashes through the guardrail and down a hill. The cars stop and the men all get out and scamper down the hill to see if the driver is okay. The driver, a famous criminal, in his last throes of life, manages to tell them where he’s stashed $350,000. It’s in a park in Santa Rosita, CA, buried under a big W. The driver dies and the men go back up the hill to their cars and/or their women and discuss what to do. What they end up deciding is that whoever can get to the park and find the money first gets to keep it and so begins this hilarious race.

What makes this movie so funny is all the ridiculous situations these people get themselves into in attempt to get to the money. The modes of transport change about every other scene, from cars and trucks to planes and bicycles and boats, because everything keeps breaking down. The people they encounter along the way don’t do much to help them either. Presiding over it all is a the Santa Rosita Police Chief, played by Spencer Tracy, who knows the money is stolen and is hoping these people will lead him right to it.

There are so many humorous moments that I can’t even begin to get into it. Some highlights include Mickey Rooney’s stint with a passed out airplane pilot and Ethel Merman’s entire performance as a nagging mother-in-law. She is a wonderful comedianne. But my favorite scene is when Jonathan Winters singlehandedly destroys a gas station. He is truly gifted in this movie and had me cracking up at every turn.

This is truly a special ensemble comedy, the likes of which we don’t see enough of anymore. It stars some giants of the cinema world, from Spencer Tracy and Ethel Merman to Sid Caeser and Phil Silvers to Mickey Rooney and Jonathan Winters to cameos by such legends as The Three Stooges, Don Knotts and, one of my favorite actors, Buster Keaton. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World comes highly recommended for lovers comedy.

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