The 1960s were a time of movie epics, spectacles everywhere you turned. There was Spartacus, Lawrence of Arabia, Cleopatra, and Doctor Zhivago. And then there was 1963's It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, which was every bit as epic as they were... only funnier. Directed by Stanley Kramer (known at that time for his serious dramas), the film features a true all-star cast of comic performers from television and film, both the past and the then-present, and puts them on a mission that ultimately takes them across the country.
It starts with an elderly man (Jimmy Durante) who suffers a car accident and is on the verge of death. Passing motorists, seemingly good citizens, all get out of their cars to help, but, instead, they're told by the dying man that he has buried $350,000 taken in his criminal action and buried it under a "big W" somewhere in location. He dies, and the motorists, sensing that a fortune is awaiting them (remember, this is $350,000 1963 dollars) gradually make their way back to their cars, and take off. It isn't long before this becomes a race to see who will be first, which, due to circumstances beyond their control, becomes more complicated as they find themselves having to enlist the help of more and more strangers, swelling their numbers tremendously and causing them to get more cutthroat along the way.
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is a huge movie, and not only in terms of its scope. It's 160 minutes long (and was actually longer initially, but the studio forced 30 minutes to be cut) and required an intermission in its original theatrical run, but it's never boring. It's been described as a comedy classic, and we can't argue with that.
Join us as we take a look back at who's who in the film, while providing some behind-the-scenes secrets that you probably didn't know — so it's a good thing we came along, right?