|An early scene in the movie featuring most of the major cast members|
|Part of the animated title sequence|
The movie soundtrack by Ernest Gold is memorable, and adds immensely to my enjoyment of the film. It's my all-time favorite film score.
My affection for It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World can be traced to the fact that my parents took my siblings and me to see it in Cleveland when it first came out – which was a big deal for us.
|Cover of the souvenir program|
(Dan Brady collection)
In all honesty, I can't say for sure that I remember seeing it in the theater. I seem to recall feeling bad that Jimmy Durante's character died, and being surprised to see the Three Stooges in their cameo appearance, but I'm just not sure anymore. (After all, it was 50 years ago!)
Nevertheless, seeing It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World when it first came out became a sort of milestone in the Brady family.
I didn't see the movie again until it was shown on TV on New Year's Eve around 1976. I even tape recorded parts of the movie because I enjoyed the music so much. Then, I discovered that the soundtrack record was available at Clarkins, so I bought a copy and played it to death during my senior year of high school.
|My copy of the soundtrack record, |
which I purchased at Clarkins on Rt. 58
I have the movie on video cassette as well as DVD. I don't have a Blu-ray player yet, but when I do, you know what the first Blu-ray disc I purchase will be.
I own some memorabilia from the movie, including a few movie stills. Over the years, I've also managed to get autographs from some of the stars of the movie. I started with Buddy Hackett, and then followed up with Jonathan Winters, Sid Caesar, Edie Adams and Peter Falk. (Sadly, all of them except for Sid Caesar are now deceased.)
|I have the autographs of four of the six actors|
in this scene from late in the movie
Needless to say, I had a great time seeing it in a theater again, and hearing the laughter of the other theatergoers as they anticipated each pratfall and joke.
****I'm not the only one with a mad obsession with It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
In fact there are numerous websites devoted to the movie, especially the locations where the movie was filmed. If you like 'then and nows' as much as me, be sure to visit this website.
One of my favorite blogs is that of Mark Evanier, who has enjoyed a fine career writing for television, animated cartoons and comic books. He has devoted many posts to It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, since he is a huge fan also.
And James Rolfe has created a very entertaining documentary in which he makes a pilgrimage to many of the movie's locations.
****Lastly, I have a kindred spirit at work who shares my enthusiasm for the movie. My colleague Brian Dreger (who is also an author and filmmaker) has huge chunks of the movie dialogue committed to memory (just like me), and is more than happy to recite some of it – when I least expect it and in the most absurd situation – much to my amusement.
|The scene in which the other characters confront Jonathan Winters|
"What happened to you?" asked Brian. "Having trouble with your engine? Run out of gas? What, you bend your tailpipe?"
Of course, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World fans recognize Brian's comments as the questions that Sid Caesar, Milton Berle, Mickey Rooney and Buddy Hackett collectively posed to Jonathan Winters after he had slowed his truck down in an attempt to evade them on the highway.
Without skipping a beat, I replied in my best Jonathan Winters impersonation. "No, it was just one of my tires. I thought... Shucks! Okay, so I was trying to..."
Yup, great minds – and obsessed Mad, Mad World fans – think alike.
|My autographed photo of Jonathan Winters|
As I've written here before, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is one of my favorite movies (seeing it in Cleveland when it first came out in 1963 was a big event for my family) and much of my enjoyment of it comes from the performance of Jonathan Winters.
His character, the peanut-brained furniture mover named Lennie Pike, probably elicits more laughs than any of the other principals in the movie, which is no small achievement since his co-stars included Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, Milton Berle and Phil Silvers. Winters' character not only stars in one of the movie's most memorable and hilarious comic sequences (the destruction of the gas station in the desert) but he also discovers the Big W that everyone is looking for.
I still feel really bad for Pike when he tries to flag down the car driven by Terry-Thomas and, at Ethel Merman's urging, they ignore his plea for help and speed right by him, leaving him alone and stranded in the middle of nowhere. The sad look on his face is heart-rending.
Then I felt bad for Pike shortly thereafter, when Phil Silvers also double-crosses Pike and leaves him stranded on the highway again with only a battered little girl's bike for transportation. That's why it's so satisfying seeing him chase Phil Silvers around with a pick later in the movie.
here to hear the theme) and enjoying the cartoon sequence that ran during the credits. It featured a caricature of Winters marching down the street with a bunch of items, such as a clock, that had sprouted legs.
He was also terrific in The Twilight Zone episode ("A Game of Pool") where he played the pool shark who came back from the afterlife to compete against the Jack Klugman character. Winters' character eventually loses, but he has the last laugh.
Anyway, I was disappointed to see little coverage of Winters' death in the paper or on TV. That's what happens to many celebrities when they pass away decades after their heyday.
At least Jonathan Winters will live forever in the hearts and minds of his devoted fans, every time they watch It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
In fact, I think it's about time I watched it again – for probably the 100th time.