Friday, February 28, 2014

Sid Caesar 1922 - 2014

My autographed photo of Sid Caesar
I couldn't let February end without doing a post on Sid Caesar, who passed away a little over two weeks ago. Anyone who reads this blog knows I'm a huge fan of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and have devoted several posts to both the movie and its stars who passed away.

Strangely enough, my parents were never big fans of Sid Caesar or Your Show of Shows. Dad preferred Ernie Kovacs and his zany brand of comedy. He also thought Jackie Gleason was "The Greatest."

Thus, as a kid I only knew Sid Caesar from the 1960s movies The Spirit is Willing and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. But that was quite enough for me to become a fan.

His character in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World – Melville Crump, the dentist – is one of the more sympathetic and appealing ones. He and his pretty wife Monica (played by Edie Adams) are on their second honeymoon, when they are drawn into the race to find the $350,000 buried in a state park.

Crump is the rational character who tries unsuccessfully to convince the others that they should search for the money together, and share it equally amongst themselves. But he fails to convince them of the merits of his proposal, and the result is a comic free-for-all.

What makes the Crumps' segments of the movie so funny is the fact that unlike the other treasure hunters, they are a true husband-and-wife team. The married members of the audience can identify with the Crumps as they end up in ridiculous situations of their own making. What husband can't relate with Melville Crump, watching him fail – hilariously – time and time again in front of his adoring wife?

Here's a selection of scenes from It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World featuring Sid Caesar and Edie Adams as Melville and Monica Crump. Check out Caesar's great facial expressions.

Crump scoffs at his wife's suggestion that the dying man who told them about
the $350,000 might have been a practical joker
Crump tries to explain to a skeptical Lenny Pike (Jonathan Winters)
why the buried money – if they find it – would be tax-free
Trying to get there first, it's up, up and away as the Crumps
are ready to take off in the 1916 biplane piloted by actor Ben Blue
The Crumps manage to get themselves locked in the basement
of a hardware store; they spend much of the film trying to get out
After blasting their way out of the basement with dynamite, the Crumps
hire a cab driver played by Peter Falk – once they get him off the phone
Near the end of the movie, after falling from an out-of-control fire truck ladder,
Crump crashes through a window and down a flight of stairs
Sid Caesar came to Northeast Ohio back in July of 1981 when he appeared at the Front Row Theater with his old Your Show of Shows co-star Imogene Coca in "With a Touch of Burlesque." The revue was later filmed and shown on cable television.

Caesar and Coco recreate a sketch from "Your Show of Shows" for "With a Touch of Burlesque"
Anyway, it's been sad to watch the great comedians of the 1950s and 60s slowly pass away, especially the stars of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

Sid Caesar, one of the earliest and greatest TV giants, will be missed.


-Alan D Hopewell said...

Indeed; a great talent.
I love IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD, and I rank it as one of the funniest movies ever made. I first saw it theatrically at the theater at Boy's Town, Nebraska, when I was fourteen, and at least a dozen times since.

Have you ever seen MY FAVORITE YEAR? The character played by Joseph Bologna is based on Sid Caesar. The film chronicles Mel Brooks' experiences working for Caesar.

Mike Kozlowski said...

...The scene where Sid and Edie finally blast their way out of the basement is, for my money, the funniest scene in a wonderfully funny movie.