When Stanley Kramer set out to make a “comedy to end all comedies,” he assembled 120 actors—among them just about every veteran American comedian hankering to be exploited—and proceeded to shoot roughly 125 miles of footage over 166 days and what did he end up with? A greedfest for dummies. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is not merely overproduced, and a direct steal from The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour episode entitled “Lucy Hunts Uranium” with Fred MacMurray, it’s also overkill. Ethel Merman leads the overbearing charge of hacks shouting, yelling, screaming, shrieking, bawling, yelping through one puerile setup after another. By the time Merman slugs her handy victims for the third or fourth time with her purse, you’re ready to call in Ernest Borgnine to finish her off. That point comes less than a long hour into the picture and two more remain. We paid roadshow prices to see this glut of timeworn slapstick projected in the then-new seamless Cinerama process; today, it’s a comedy graveyard. Filmed in Ultra Panavision. (Opening 11/19/1963 at the McVickers, running 33 weeks.)
Oscar win: best sound effects. Oscar nominations: best color cinematography, best sound, best film editing, best original musical score, best song (title).
Text COPYRIGHT © 2000 RALPH BENNER All Rights Reserved.