07th Sep2017

‘It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’ Blu-ray Review (Criterion)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle, Ethel Merman, Jimmy Durante, Buddy Hackett, Mickey Rooney, Dick Shawn, Phil Silvers, Terry-Thomas, Jonathan Winters | Written by William Rose, Tania Rose | Directed by Stanley Kramer


If you are a fan of comedy films, you’ll already know that It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is one of the greatest ones ever brought to the silver screen. Including most of the biggest names in comedy, it quite simply is a film that could never happen again. Now the Criterion Collection release has come to the UK and it is well worth buying.

When Smiler Grogan (Jimmy Durante) has a high-speed crash, a group of drivers who come to his aid find him close to death. Before he literally kicks the bucket, he shares with them the location of a $350,000 treasure, leading to a frantic race to be first to the prize. One thing they are unaware of though is that Captain T.G. Culpepper (Spencer Tracy) is keeping a close eye on their progress to the money.

What makes It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World such an epic movie is the cast. This includes Milton Berle, Sid Caeser, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney, Johnathan Winters, Phil Silvers, Terry Thomas, and Buddy Hackett. This is even before we get to the cameos that are featured. Just the fact that The Three Stooges and Buster Keaton make an appearance shows how special it is. This is a true who’s who of comedy in the sixties.

What makes the It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World Criterion Collection Blu-ray special is the fact that not only do you get the 4k Restoration of the film, but also an additional 197-minutes extended version of the film. This includes added footage. This recreates the road-show version that was originally shown. This was the version that interested me the most, and makes this a must have release.

While there are many scenes that are lower quality (the restored scenes) and some scenes that are just images (where footage could not be found) for lovers of film this just adds interest to the film. To see what the full experience for the film was, (which includes the radio reports of the race progress) is very impressive.

Further to this version there is also a special commentary track which focuses on this extended version of the film. Hearing the history of the film and the behind the scenes technical information about the making of the film is pure gold. To hear film lovers and experts talk about such a special movie just adds to the enjoyment.

Other special features include a look at how the film was made, including the special effects and sound effects that were used to create the experience for the audience. The fact that this was all done before computers were used is impressive in itself. Especially when you look at some of the stunts that were done.

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is an unforgettable movie that deserves all the love that it gets. The Criterion Collection release allows fans to delve into just what it took to make some of the most memorable scenes, and what it was like working with so many comic geniuses. It would be interesting to see if a film like this could ever be made again, but I get the feeling that this is a truly one of a kind event that will never be bested.

***** 5/5

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World Criterion Collection Blu-ray is available in the UK now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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