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Criterion Collection: It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World [Blu-ray] [US Import]

Sid Caesar , Milton Berle    Blu-ray
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 27.25
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Product details

  • Actors: Sid Caesar, Milton Berle, Buddy Hackett, Spencer Tracy
  • Format: Colour, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Classification: G (General Audience) (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: 21 Jan 2014
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B00GBT61YS
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,495 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MAD MAD WORLD FULL LENGTH [CINERAMA] 9 Nov 2013
Having been invoved in cinerama towards its end when it converted to a single lens anamorphic system,the old system was better ie How The West Was Won I eagerly await the version shown at my cinema The London Casino in London. I just hope the Blu Ray will be multi regional.

Mike Ward
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  203 reviews
76 of 78 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting new view of the movie 27 Jan 2014
By Vernon A. Miller - Published on
Verified Purchase
This has been one of my favorite movies forever, and I own it on Laserdisc (either one or two versions, don't remember which) and DVD (at least two versions) already. So this edition was a must-have for me.

I got a kick out of the 197-minute extended version and I recommend it to anyone who knows and appreciates this movie already. I thought many of the added scenes in the really did bring value to the movie; some of them nicely filled in some continuity gaps that exist in the shorter releases.

However, I think that the extended version should NOT be the one you show to friends who have never seen the movie before - because of the variable quality of the material that Robert Harris and his team had to work with, some of the inserts are just too jarring if you're not already familiar with the movie. Show them the 154 minute, more polished version first.

Note that the extended version includes the original overture, intermission, entr'acte, and exit music. During part of the intermission, there is a time where the screen is totally black for several minutes, but police radio calls are played periodically on audio only. This was (and still is) intended to keep the audience posted on the action that is continuing to happen in the timeline of the film during intermission. It's great because, again, it provides better continuity - for example, you hear that Finch (Berle) and Hawthorne (Terry-Thomas) have stopped at an Avis location and rented a blue Chevy, which explains how they ended up with that that new blue car after intermission. (Ahh, product placement even back then! :-) But it is a bit unnerving, because there are longish periods of black screen with no sound at all, and your impulse is to think something went wrong with your Blu-Ray player or TV. Just relax, all is well :-)
137 of 154 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Oh, sweet gods of cinema......" 6 Dec 2013
By John H. McCarthy - Published on
......IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD on Blu-Ray released on The Criterion Collection!!! Maybe it's my age, having first devoured this wacky masterpiece (starring more comedians than you can shake a shtick at) as a young lad in an actual theater, in Cinerama, no less, or maybe it's because of the dozens of views on the old boob tube, Dialing For Dollars, or holidays (usually New Year's), but this crazy cinematic comedy concoction is hot wired to my cerebral cortex. I've purchased this three times already, on VHS, LaserDisc and the Walmart "exclusive" Blu-Ray, but since this new release is from Criterion it will probably be my fourth and last, unless they come out with a hologram version in my lifetime! Criterion has restored the film to a length of 197 minutes, and their website states that there is material on the set not seen since the original "road show" version. As usual for Criterion, oodles of extra material is included. The price of the set is reasonable as well and they include both DVD AND Blu-Ray versions. I'm sure that sales figures for all the previous releases show there's a large audience who already own at least one of the older releases, so the lower price point makes a purchase more attractive. Just reading the product description is making me drool and crave Junior Mints! If you're reading this you probably are a rabid fan like me, so I don't think I have to go into a plot description, but since this film features a cornucopia of classic comics (and a couple of ringers like Spencer Tracy) I'm inclined to list them all, in alphabetical order......

Edie Adams
Eddie "Rochester" Anderson
Jim Backus
Jack Benny
Milton Berle
Ben Blue
Joe E. Brown
Sid Caesar
Alan Carney
Barrie Chase
Andy Devine
William Demarest
Selma Diamond (voice only)
Jimmy Durante
Peter Falk
Norman Fell
Paul Ford
Stan Freberg
Leo Gorcey
Buddy Hackett
Sterling Holloway
Edward Everett Horton
Alan Jenkins
Marvin Kaplan
Buster Keaton
Tom Kennedy
Don Knotts
Charles Lane
Jerry Lewis
Mike Mazurki
Charles McGraw
Ethel Merman
Zasu Pitts
Dorothy Provine
Carl Reiner
Madlyn Rhue
Roy Roberts
Mickey Rooney
Dick Shawn
Phil Silvers
Arnold Stang
The Three Stooges
Sammee Tong
Spencer Tracy
Doodles Weaver
Jesse White
Johnathan Winters

I probably missed a couple of silent film stars that I'm not familiar with, but you have to agree, WOW! What a cast! The film also doubles as a historical document, since all but less than a handful of the actors are no longer with us. If there is a God and Heaven, I wouldn't doubt that they all sit down and watch this once a year themselves......

POSTSCRIPT: Thank you for all your kind comments. There's no doubt there's A LOT of people out their that hold this movie in high esteem, many with a touch of nostalgia. I received it yesterday and was pleasantly surprised because I thought it was coming out on the 28th. There are two complete versions of the film included, a 2 3/4 hour "standard" version, which is basically equal to last years single disc movie-only release, and an extended version running over 3 1/4 hours that includes even more rediscovered footage than on the old LaserDisc set. The extended restoration is really something to see, but if you already own the movie-only Blu-Ray, are happy with the picture and don't have a lot of interest in all the addition features, you need not buy this. It seems that all the extras from the old LaserDisc set were carried over, and there's a bunch of new ones to boot. It's great that you get the Blu-Ray (2 discs) and the regular DVD (3 discs) which come in a five panel foldout. Now my mother will be able to watch it since she only has a DVD player. To maintain continuity, they have inserted still photographs for the scenes that exist only on audio, and have subtitles on the video where the audio is missing, like they did with the A Star Is Born and Lost Horizon restorations. While some of the damaged footage from the LaserDisc set has been restored, some of the recently discovered footage is sometimes briefly in rough shape. Some reviewers are complaining that the additional footage (some of which was saved at the last minute from the garbage!) should have been COMPLETELY restored. Before making any judgements though, watch the Restoration Featurette first, after seeing the actual film sections they had to work with and you'll agree they did their best with what they had. There's a nice (as always) Criterion booklet with an essay, and as a crowning touch, they've included a treasure map!

Among the plethora of extras, there's a great gallery of TV and radio ads hosted by creator and cast member, the 87 year old Stan Freberg. The neat black and white television commercials feature most of the first tier cast, including Merman, Caesar, Hackett, Rooney, Silvers and Winters. The film's premiere is shown via a two-part Canadian TV show, "Telescope," unfortunately one viewing of this is enough. There's a great 35 minute segment of a talk show hosted by Stanley Kramer where his guests, Hackett, Winters and Caesar (in their wide-collared 70's finery) reminisce about the shoot. Their humorous camaraderie is infectious, especially when Hackett gets on a roll. A 'IAMMMMW' section from the 2000 AFI "100 Years...100 Laughs" program (with a strange overly-saturated orange tint) features some of the cast and contemporary comics talking about the film's influence. A 2012 reunion of surviving cast (Chase, Freberg, Kaplan, Reiner & Winters) and crew members gathered for a showcase of the restored film as part of "The Last 70 mm Film Festival." Hosted by Billy Crystal, it's bittersweet seeing Kaplan, Rooney, and especially Winters (with the back of his hand completely bruised from hospital needles) in wheelchairs. A new 36min. documentary on the film's special effects (visual & sound) is fascinating, featuring rare behind-the-scenes film footage. I have to agree with other reviewers that the older "Something A Little Less Serious" documentary from previous editions is missed. It's absense, like Smiler's buried loot, a mystery. After I have time to devour everything, including the DVDs, I can compare them to the Blu-Ray, which is just fantastic. You'll be amazed at the new lossless soundtrack as well. And for all the expected haters who will probably complain about this or that, get a life!
79 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Criterion's Blu-Ray a Spectacular Restoration 14 Jan 2014
By Andre Dursin - Published on
Though I don't classify it as the funniest film ever made, IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD is undoubtedly one of the biggest cinematic comedies ever mounted in terms of scale - offering a veritable who's who of classic Golden Age comedians in a picture that has long generated a love/hate relationship among viewers. While the movie's artistic merits are debatable, there's no denying that Criterion has produced one of the most praiseworthy restorations we've seen on home video in years with their new Blu-Ray/DVD edition of Stanley Kramer's gargantuan 1963 release.

The screenplay by William Rose and his wife, Tania (who had previously written the British car rally comedy "Genevieve"), opens with a group of motorists watching in awe as Smiler Grogan (Jimmy Durante) speeds off a highway overpass, crashing into a ravine where he reveals (prior to literally kicking the bucket) that a treasure is buried under a "Big W" in Palm Springs, California. With this hot tip, the motorists stage a frantic mad dash for the coast, splitting up into different groups and getting into every kind of predicament imaginable. Their progress is tracked by Captain T.G. Culpeper (Spencer Tracy), ready for retirement after spending years as an honest cop, wanting only to bring the situation to a close in order to round out his distinguished career.

The crazies he's after include J. Russell Finch (Milton Berle), his wife Emmeline (Dorothy Provine), her mother (Ethel Merman) and, eventually, brother (a funny Dick Shawn); Melville Crump (Sid Caesar) and his wife (Edie Adams); botanist J. Algernon Hawthorne (Terry-Thomas); Ding Bell (Mickey Rooney) and Benjy Benjamin (Buddy Hackett); and the irascible Lennie Pike (Jonathan Winters). However, if that wasn't enough, Kramer filled his supporting roles a wealth of talented and formidable performers, many of whom had already achieved fame or would later to go onto find it - names like Jim Backus, Joe E. Brown, William Demarest, Andy Devine, Selma Diamond, Peter Falk, Norman Fell, Stan Freberg, Sterling Holloway, Don Knotts, and Carl Reiner, plus cameos from Jerry Lewis, Jack Benny, Buster Keaton and the Three Stooges for good measure.

Having not lived through its era, "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" is a tough nut to crack. The movie means a good deal more to nostalgic viewers than anyone else, especially since its comedy is seldom more than gently amusing. The big laughs one would expect from the assembled cast seldom materialize throughout the course of its three hours, and yet as I've come to find out over the years, the movie grows on you. It's not hilarious, but it's likeable, and serves as a time capsule of its day - and where else in the history of cinema have so many legends come together for one motion picture? Even if the film is less than the sum of its parts, seeing these performers working together alone is worthwhile, and Kramer's use of the wide scope frame also makes his comic odyssey visually stimulating. It's not a classic, but it is a one-of-a-kind motion picture experience whose place in history is stamped by the talent who worked on it.

While the film was heavily promoted as a Cinerama feature, Kramer actually shot the film in the 70mm Ultra Panavision process, and the movie originally opened in Roadshow release at 192 minutes in November of 1963. United Artists, however, quickly pared the film down to 163 minutes (later 154 mins. minus overture/intermission/exit music) -- some have claimed to accommodate more screenings in theaters -- and for many years the longer Roadshow version of the movie was thought to be lost forever. MGM/UA attempted to restore what they could salvage of the lost footage in the early `90s for a laserdisc release that ran 20 minutes longer, but was hampered by sequences that were inserted in the wrong order and also transferred at varying aspect ratios.

Working with restoration authority Robert A. Harris, Criterion has produced a spectacular new, 197-minute presentation exclusively for their new Blu-Ray/DVD release. The care that went into this production is evident throughout, and it is truly remarkable what Criterion and Harris were able to find. This new restoration offers footage added back into the film for the first time, as well as newly remastered deleted scenes that are an enhancement from the prior attempt at restoring the full Roadshow version - scenes are here inserted back in their proper place, others that were "warped" for Cinerama exhibition have been corrected, sequences with Japanese subtitles that were zoomed-in and cropped have been fixed as best they can, and others lacking visuals have been carefully matched with stills from the movie (several audio drop-outs have also been rectified with subtitles). Given that none of the original film elements exist - and that the added scenes come from a myriad of sources that have been ravaged by time, sticking out visually from the rest of the picture - it's amazing how much of the "lost footage" has been resurrected here on Blu-Ray, and how well it plays together.

Another notable aspect of the restoration was the decision to lift the color off the laserdisc master for some of the excised material - a necessity given that those sequences have faded even further over the 20 years since their previous exhibition, and offer virtually no color when viewed today. By using the same process that converts 2D movies to 3D, Harris and Criterion were able to add color to newly rescanned in HD - but now-monochrome - material. It's fascinating to see their cutting-edge efforts in action, even if the end result carries B&W borders along the image (since the laserdisc didn't transfer the full aspect ratio of the film, no color guide existed for that part of the image).

The 1080p image itself otherwise is just brilliant -- working from the same gorgeous master MGM produced for their earlier Blu-Ray release, which offered pinpoint detail. This is what every catalog release ought to look like on Blu-Ray but seldom does, and if the 197-minute version offers too much "Mad World" for you (even the movie's Intermission "police calls" have been reinstated) ,the "Shorter Roadshow" 163-minute version is also included here on its own disc, with both pictures offering a robust 5.1 DTS MA soundtrack that does justice to Ernest Gold's raucous, infectious - and admittedly repetitive - score.

Extras, as you'd anticipate, are in abundance, though fans may lament the loss of the older laserdisc documentary, which made its way onto MGM's prior DVD and Blu-Ray releases. A group commentary track with fans Mark Evanier, Mike Schlesinger, and Paul Scrabo offers as much trivia on the extended version as you'd ever want to hear; excerpts from a 1974 Kramer-hosted talk show include recollections from Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett and Jonathan Winters; a press interview from `63 and two episodes from the TV program "Telescope" offer priceless, vintage footage of the cast behind the scenes; a 10 minute extract from the 2000 AFI TV special "100 Years...100 Laughs" features comments from admirers like David Alan Grier and Whoopi Goldberg (who starred in the unfortunate semi-remake "Rat Race"); Sten Freberg's original TV and radio ads with his introduction; trailers and radio spots; and footage from a 2012 event, "The Last 70mm Film Festival," hosted by Billy Crystal and offering appearances from surviving cast and crew members. It's a shame the program ends at the 38 minute mark - one wishes the conversation had lasted longer, particularly considering half of the featurette is spent introducing the various participants.

The package is housed in a cardboard foldout case with Jack Davis' original artwork and a three-disc DVD copy that offers a standard-def version of the same presentation. For fans, this is as much as one could hope for - "Mad" indeed!
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have for anyone who likes this movie 26 Jan 2014
By Ken - Published on
Verified Purchase
I have waited many, many years to see a version of this movie with most of the cut material restored. Finally, I got to see it and enjoyed it very much. I know the shorted version of the movie so well that I could detect gaps in the story lost to the cutting. The extended movie makes so much more sense and is more enjoyable with the gaps restored although there are still a few gaps that may never be restored. Oddly, there is one missing piece of film in the extended version showing the turbo prop plane flying upside down for several seconds that I remember from the 1970s and 1980s when the movie was shown on TV. I wonder what happened to that since that film segment must exist. Yes, the image quality of some of the restored segments is horrible -- but having the more complete story told is worth it -- particularly if you are focused on the story (as you should) rather than being a critic of the film quality. It was a pleasure to hear the police calls during the original intermission -- those added a lot to the story -- some were quite humorous. I also liked the several documentaries included. The disk set also includes the standard shortened version which I will never watch -- I suppose that is for those who would criticize the quality of some of the restored scenes. I will be watching the extended version countless times in coming years. It is a movie that one can never get tired of seeing.
71 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars marvellous! 1 Nov 2013
By Bruce Campbell - Published on
Simply one of the all time greats and Robert Harris restoration expert extraordinaire at the helm in restoring and painstakingly resurrecting this wonderful roadshow classic. While not entirely complete a huge amount of intricate work and effort has gone into creating a 193 minute cut on blu ray which will be closest you will ever see to the original 1963 roadshow release. A host of extras will round off this well deserved release. The revised theatical cut of 156 mins approx will form part of this edition and is being released in 4k. A fantasic opportunity to own' its a mad mad mad mad world'.
Well done to Criterion for bankrolling and supporting all the work to bring this classic to the movie collector's marketplace.
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