It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

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With this all-star Cinerama epic, producer/director Stanley Kramer vowed to make the comedy that would end all comedies. The story begins during a massive traffic jam, caused by reckless driver Smiler Grogan (Jimmy Durante), who, before (literally) kicking the bucket, cryptically tells the assembled drivers that he's buried a fortune in stolen loot, under the Big W. The various motorists setting out on a mad scramble include a dentist (Sid Caesar) and his wife (Edie Adams); a henpecked husband (Milton Berle) accompanied by his mother-in-law (Ethel Merman) and his beatnik brother-in-law (Dick Shawn); a pair of comedy writers (Buddy Hackett and Mickey Rooney); and a variety of assorted nuts including a slow-wit (Jonathan Winters), a wheeler-dealer (Phil Silvers), and a pair of covetous cabdrivers (Peter Falk and Eddie Rochester Anderson). Monitoring every move that the fortune hunters make is a scrupulously honest police detective (Spencer Tracy). Virtually every lead, supporting, and bit part in the picture is filled by a well-known comic actor: the laughspinning lineup also includes Carl Reiner, Terry-Thomas, Arnold Stang, Buster Keaton, Jack Benny, Jerry Lewis, and The Three Stooges, who get one of the picture's biggest laughs by standing stock still and uttering not a word. Two prominent comedians are conspicuous by their absence: Groucho Marx refused to appear when Kramer couldn't meet his price, while Stan Laurel declined because he felt he was too old-looking to be funny. Available for years in its 154-minute general release version, the film was restored to its roadshow length of 175 minutes on home video; the search goes on for a missing Buster Keaton routine, reportedly excised on the eve of the picture's premiere.~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide


  • Spencer Tracy
  • Milton Berle
  • Sid Caesar
  • Buddy Hackett
  • Ethel Merman
  • Mickey Rooney
  • Dick Shawn
  • Phil Silvers
  • Terry-Thomas
  • Jonathan Winters

Did You Know?


  • Melville Crump was originally to be played by Ernie Kovacs, but he died in a one-car accident before principal shooting. In real life he was married to Edie Adams, who played Monica Crump.
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  • When everyone is driving away from Smiler's accident, the camera and crew are reflected in the door as Pike gets out of his truck.
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    • [into a phone]
    • Sylvester Marcus: Mama, who's with you? Where are you talking to me... Where are you?
    • [Hangs up]
    • Lennie Pike: Well?
    • Mrs. Marcus: So he's coming here. And I'm not to worry about a thing, because "everything is going to be all right!"
    • [to Emmeline]
    • Mrs. Marcus: Exactly like your father: a big, stupid, muscle-headed moron!
    • [into the phone]
    • Mrs. Marcus: I'm with this truck driver at Peterson's garage in a place called Plaster City. And will you just shut up a minute so I can tell you what happened!
    • Sylvester Marcus: Now listen, Mommy, you listen to me close. You stay right there, because I'm coming, Mom. I'm coming to get you right now, Mom.
    • Mrs. Marcus: Will you SHUT UP AND LISTEN?
    • Sylvester Marcus: Mama, it's all right. Everything's gonna be all right, Mama. Your baby's coming to get ya. You just sit there. Sit there, relax, take it easy.
    • [On the phone and the camera's still on Sylvester]
    • Mrs. Marcus: Sylvester...
    • Sylvester Marcus: I'm coming to get you, Mom!
    • [On the phone and the camera's still on Sylvester]
    • Mrs. Marcus: ... shut up and let me talk...
    • [At the same time, while Mrs. Marcus is speaking]
    • Sylvester Marcus: Everything is gonna be all right!
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Feb 4, 2014

More than anything, though, It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World embodies comic hugeness, for better or for worse. It isn’t the best comedy of all time, but it’s one of the largest and broadest.

Metacritic review by Nathan Rabin
Nathan Rabin
The Dissolve

The definitive wacky screwball comedy that spawned a genre.

Metacritic review by Ian Nathan
Ian Nathan