on 11 April 2015
IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD  [The Criterion Collection Special Edition] [Blu-ray + DVD] [US Import] The Biggest Entertainment Ever to Rock the Screen with Laughter!
Stanley Kramer followed his Oscar-winning 'Judgment at Nuremberg' with this sobering investigation of American greed. Ah, who are we kidding? ‘It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’ is about a group of strangers fighting tooth and nail over buried treasure, is the most grandly hare-brained movie ever made, a pileup of slapstick and borscht-belt-y one-liners performed by a nonpareil cast, including Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney, Spencer Tracy, Jonathan Winters, and a boatload of other playing-to-the-rafters comedy legends. For sheer scale of silliness, Stanley Kramer's wildly uncharacteristic film is unlike any other, an exhilarating epic of tomfoolery.
FILM FACT: The film won the Academy Award® for Best Sound Editing and received Oscar nominations for its colour cinematography, film editing, sound recording, music score, and original song for the title song. It also received two Golden Globe® Awards nominations for Best Motion Picture for Musical or Comedy and for Jonathan Winters' performance as Best Actor for Musical or Comedy.
Cast: Spencer Tracy, Edie Adams, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Ethel Merman, Dorothy Provine, Mickey Rooney, Buddy Hackett, Jonathan Winters, Jimmy Durante, Phil Silvers, Terry-Thomas, Dick Shawn, Jim Backus, Barrie Chase, William Demarest, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Peter Falk, Paul Ford, Jack Benny, Jerry Lewis, Buster Keaton and Stan Freberg
Director: Stanley Kramer
Producer: Stanley Kramer
Screenplay: Tania Rose and William Rose
Composer: Ernest Gold
Cinematography: Ernest Laszlo
Animated Film Title Design: Saul Bass
Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor]
Aspect Ratio: 2.76:1 [70mm Ultra Panavision]
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English: Dolby Digital Stereo Audio
Running Time: 163 minutes and 197 minutes
Region: Region A/1
Number of discs: 5
Studio: The Criterion Collection / M-G-M
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: ‘It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’  is a wild comedy about the pursuit of Money. It's a wonderfully crazy and colourful collection of "chase" comedy, so crowded with plot and people that it almost splits the seams of its huge Cinerama 2.76:1 [70mm Ultra Panavision] presentation. It's mad, as it says, with its profusion of so many stars, so many "names," playing leading bit roles that it seems to be a celebrities' parade. And it is also, for all its crackpot clowning and its racing and colliding of automobiles, a pretty severe satirising of the money madness and motorised momentum of our age.
When its producer-director, Stanley Kramer, started to do this film, he said he wanted to make it "a comedy to end all comedies." For his nimble scriptwriter, William Rose, who wrote 'Genevieve,' 'High and Dry,' 'The Lady-killers' and other interesting British comedies, have gleefully gathered virtually all the sure-fire slapstick comedy tricks and chase routines that were patiently developed in silent-film days. They have put them together in a story that has eruptive energy and speed; and they have got a bunch of actors to perform it with the fervour of demented geniuses. Stanley Kramer would later claim that ‘It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’ was the most difficult film he ever made and it's not hard to see why when you consider the huge cast, countless stunts, and special effects. Working with a script by William Rose, who wrote the delightful British car-race comedy, 'Genevieve' , Stanley Kramer came up with a crazy quilt plot about several motorists racing to discover a hidden treasure in stolen money buried under some palm trees in Los Angeles.
One of the greatest comedies of all time has finally arrived it the special edition that it has so longingly deserved. Stanley Kramer's ‘It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’ with one of the largest cast ever assembled on the big screen. It was billed as the comedy to end all comedies. Stanley Kramer was known for directing great drama films such as 'Judgement At Nuremberg,' 'Inherit the Wind' and 'On the Beach.' The story goes that a film critic bet Stanley Kramer that he couldn't do a comedy and that is why he decided to do the film. Written by William and Tania Rose was originally conceived as a comic chase through Scotland. The script was sent to Stanley Kramer and the location was changed to America.
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 cab drivers [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: with an all-star line-up 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.
This is definitely one of my favourite comedies of all time. It's one of those few films that you can watch multiple times and always seem to find new things with it. The script is really tight and while the film is long by today standards, it really is the perfect length. The smart thing that the script dose is carefully introduces us to the main cast with the scene where they are deciding how to split the money up. And while the action scenes really steal the show, it is the characters that ground the film and make it work so well and the main cast in the film is simply amazing. Only a director like Stanley Kramer could keep this film from flying off the rails. It is mind-boggling how he was able to keep everything going considering that the film was shot for over eight months. There is and will never be a film like this ever. To this day I am shocked that no one died doing some of those stunts especially the plane stunts during the Mickey Rooney and Buddy Hackett sequence. It just doesn't get much better than this classic funny film.
Since its original premiere in 70mm, there have been various versions of ‘It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’ in distribution. The 70mm version, with a running time of 162 minutes, included 8 minutes of overture music with 16 minutes of an intermission title card that broadcast "news bulletins" on the soundtrack, reporting progress in the search for the money. The more common version shown is the 35mm version with a running time of 154 minutes. Of course, there are some diehard fans who continually lobby for the 197-minute version which includes a dance sequence featuring the voices of The Shirelles. At any length, ‘It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’ is still a fun showcase for some of the great comic talents of the 20th century, even if some of the cameos like Buster Keaton, Ben Blue, Jack Benny, and The Three Stooges, only lasts a few seconds.
Blu-ray Video Quality – The 1080p encoded image is totally spectacular, to say the least. There's plenty of evenly-distributed grain, giving the film a very natural look. It actually looks its best during outdoor scenes. The film's colour palette is quite solid with a lot of character to it, and skin tones look remarkably good. Blacks are often deep and dark, and the film's contrast and brightness are perfect. I didn't notice any major blemishes or film artefacts that stood out, nor any signs of excessive digital tampering (I didn't expect to anyway). It should also be noted that the images have been de-rectified, meaning that the spherical look to the original photography has been reversed in order to present a flattened image. The film was shot using only one camera with a very wide frame of an aspect ratio of 2.76:1, so that it would fit onto a Cinerama screen without the need for being projected by three different cameras and only a handful films actually did this. When that original image is seen prior to being normalised, there is adistortion in the image. With a flattened image, that distortion is now gone and the film looks like a normal film presentation, but with a larger aspect ratio. As for the extended version of the film, the quality is the same as the general release version except for the newly inserted footage. As I stated previously, some of the footage is lost and some is sourced from poor quality prints of the film. The footage has been cleaned up and made to look as best as it can, but it's obviously slightly inferior in certain part of the film image. The extended version does feature some subtitles, but only when the audio drops out.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – The film's soundtrack has only a single 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. It has a fantastic track that only shows its age in some of its sound effects (not that it really matters that much). That being said, the dialogue is always crystal clear and very precise, the sound design works very well in the surrounding speakers, the film's score benefits greatly from the surround set-up and output is considerable. It's a very well-balanced soundtrack, and it should be since the film won an Oscar® for it. The extended version, again, features the same soundtrack, but with lower quality during the extended sequences and some dropouts in the audio.
First Blu-ray Disc Special Features and Extras: The extensive Extras that are listed below, are also included on the DVD discs, but spread over 3 discs.
The General Release Version: The general version of ‘It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’ is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.76:1. Black bars at the top and bottom of the screen are normal for this format. This digital transfer was created in 4K resolution on an Imagica 65mm film scanner from the 65mm original camera negative and the 65mm interpositive. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI's DRS. The original 5.1 surround soundtrack was re-mastered at 24-bit at Chace Audio by Deluxe in Burbank, California, from the 35mm 6-track magnetic tracks and is presented on this Blu-ray disc as a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Surround soundtrack. The only thing that I feel could have made this the perfect edition is if there was an audio commentary on the General Release Version of the film with any of the surviving cast or crew to give insight. There are a lot of interview with both the cast and crew on both this and the previous M-G-M edition, but I just feel that when you record a commentary that a lot of times you get very spontaneous things that people remember while they are watching it. While it's possible that Criterion might have tried to do this it might have not been feasible due to the age and timing of those who might be able to do it.
1963 Original Release Promotional Spots and Introduction  [1080p] [16:9] [4:18] Producer-director Stanley Kramer hired comic Stan Freberg, writer, performer and voice-over artist Stan Freberg to create an innovative advertising campaign for ‘It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.’ Here we get a new personal introduction by funny man Stan Freberg, who talks of his great affection on working for the Mad World film and as stated also being asked to create those very funny inventive adverts for the film and also informs us about lots of problems they had with certain actors trying to do their own thing to the point of messing up the whole film schedule. This is a very nice personal tribute to Stan Freberg and is a very nice little extra that is a must watch.
Radio Ads: Here we have a selection of humourist and voice-over artist Stan Freberg featuring 6 original funny radio spots, which are as follows: Sick With Laffing 1; Sick With Laffing 2; Stiff Neck 1; Stiff Neck 2; Survivor 1 and Survivor 2.
TV Ads: Here we have a selection of 4 separate TV Adverts that are as follows: 60-seconds; Hilarious [480i] [4:3] [00:21]; Too Late [480i] [4:3] [00:20] and Qualification [480i] [4:3] [00:21]
Original Road Show Teaser  [480i] [4:3] [1:26] Sadly the audio quality is very poor, with lots of background noise interference.
General Release Trailer  [480i] [2.76:1] [3:25]
1970 Release Trailers  [480i] [2.76:1] [3:20] In this section you have 4 categories and they are as follows: Radio Ad 1; Radio Ad 2; Radio Ad 3 and Theatrical Trailer
Special Feature: TELESCOPE: This Two-part 1963 episode of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation TV programme series 'Telescope' that is presented by Fletcher Markle and follows the film's press junket for ‘It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’ and also the film's Los Angeles premiere at the Cinerama Dome. The footage features the cast of the film and a host of Hollywood celebrities. The 2 episodes in question are as follows: Part One: 'A Winters' Tale' [480i] [4:3] [24:55] and Part Two: 'Junket Into Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Madness [480i] [4:3] [25:18]
Special Feature: Press Interview  [480i] [4:3] [35:06] This opened ended interview with ‘It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’ director Stanley Kramer and cast members Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Mickey Rooney, and Jonathan Winters was recorded in 1963 and was sent to local television stations as a publicity piece. The interviewer's questions were not recorded, so the stations broadcasting it could edit in their owner reporter. They have recorded and inserted questions here based on the original interview transcripts. Sadly time has not been very kind to this print, as the quality of the image is so shockingly bad and on top of all that the questions that were asked were equally bad and vacuous.
Special Feature: Stanley Kramer  [480i] [4:3] [36:44] Reunion with the Great Comedy Artists of our Time: In 1974, director Stanley Kramer hosted a television talk show courtesy of KNK Productions, which featured ‘It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’ cast members Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, and Jonathan Winters. Much of the programme was devoted to reminiscing about the making of Mad World and is excerpted in the taping of this TV programme.
Second Blu-ray Disc Special Features and Extras:
About The Extended Version: The extended version of ‘It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’ is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.76:1. Black bars at the top and bottom of the screen are normal for this format. The additional footage was transferred from a 70mm print trims, which was scanned in high definition on a Millennium scanner specifically equipped for large-print formats. Wherever possible, 3D warping technology was used by FotoKem in Burbank, California to blend the trims with a standard-definition transfer from original full-coated magnetic tracks of the road-show version and 70mm trims. Some scenes exist only as audio; in these instances, still photographs have been inserted for continuity.
This New high-definition digital transfer of the 197 minute extended version of the film, was reconstructed and restored by Robert A. Harris using visual and audio material from the longer original road-show version and including some scenes that have been returned to the film here for the first time with 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Surround soundtrack on the Blu-ray.
The original road-show version of ‘It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’ ran approximately 202 minutes, including overtures, intermission, and exit music. With the participation of producer-director Stanley Kramer, the film was subsequently cut down to 163 minutes for general theatrical release. Much of the deleted footage has since been lost, but approximately twenty minutes, worth still exists, from 70mm release prints or audio-only elements. In 1991, M-G-M/UA released an extended version of the film on a NTSC LaserDisc that incorporated all the missing footage available at the time. The Criterion Collection is pleased to present a new extended version that includes even more rediscovered footage. To maintain continuity, they have inserted still photographs for scenes that exist on as audio, and supplied subtitles where the audio is missing. The only negative aspect of this version is when you get to the Intermission wording and from the time you get to the Entra'acte, you get most of the time long silence gaps that seem to go on forever, but now and again you get to hear the audio Police Radio calls, that were beamed into the auditorium and the toilets via loud speakers for the customers until the start of the second part of the film, I just wish The Criterion Collection had done a much better job in editing out all the long unnecessary silent gaps.
New Audio Commentary: This Extended Version audio commentary, recorded by The Criterion Collection in 2013, and features ‘It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’ aficionados Mark Evanier, Michael Schlesinger, and Paul Scrabo. To listen to the audio commentary while viewing the film, press the AUDIO key on your Blu-ray Remote Control and select Dolby Digital Stereo Audio at any time. This is absolutely fantastic and the three aficionados Mark Evanier, Michael Schlesinger, and Paul Scrabo keep you entranced with so much fantastic information about behind-the-scene information on the making of this extended version of the film. You also get lots of fantastic information about the scenes you are watching throughout the film and also the actors that appear in the film and information the actors that were edited out of the film. This is a truly wonderful exploration of ‘It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’ extended version and keeps you griped the whole time until the very end credits of who was involved with the restoration of the extended version of the film.
Special Feature: AFI's 100 Years . . . 100 Laughs  [1080p] [4:3/2.76:1] [11:08] In 2000, the American Film Institute produced a programme 'AFI's 100 Years . . . 100 Laughs,' which reveals the results of a poll it conducted on the one hundred best comedy films of all time. ‘It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’ came in at number forty. Actors and comedians are featured discussing their favourites on the list, and several of them talk about the influence of 'It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,' and includes Carl Reiner; Milton Berle; Whoopi Goldberg; Mickey Rooney; Janeane Garofalo; Alan King; David Alan Grier and Charles Grodin, plus you get to see excerpt clips from the film.
Special Feature: The Last 70mm Film Festival  [1080p] [16:9] [37:36] On July 9, 2012, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences showed ‘It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’ at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverley Hills, of a screening presented by Randy Haberkamp the managing director of programming, education, and preservation. The evening, hosted by Billy Crystal, also featured and onstage a reunion of the cast and crew form the film. A taping of the event is presented in this special feature. This is another totally fantastic brilliant historic event and is also a really funny tour-de-force presentation, especially as you hear some fantastic intimate behind-the-scene information on this very classic funny film.
Special Feature: Sound and Vision  [1080p] [16:9] [36:28] In this New documentary on the film's visual and sound effects, featuring interviews with visual-effects specialist Craig Barron and sound designer Ben Burtt discuss ‘It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’ extensive use of complex visual and sound effects. The programme also features rare behind-the-scene footage of the visual effects crew at work. This is also a must view, as it is a totally fascinating insight into the making of the 'It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World' film looks so totally brilliant.
Special Feature: Restoration Demonstration  [1080p] [16:9] [5:18] Here you get a really beautiful in-depth look at how they did the restoration work on the 197 minute film version of ‘It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’ and is a totally fascinating look at how all the elements were brought together before the finished result was then able to be transferred on this the actual Bly-ray disc. Once again this is a must view, but at times it went right over my head with all the technical information, but despite this, a real worthwhile view.
BONUS: A ‘It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’ special 20 page booklet featuring an essay by film critic Lou Lumenick new illustrations by legendary cartoonist Jack Davis. Plus a new illustrated 'It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Map,' created for the release of the film by the artist Dave Woodman, with the assistance of Ron Kawal, which identifies the shooting locations for many of the scenes from ‘It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’ which was shot primarily in and around Los Angeles and Palm Springs, California.
Finally, fans of director Stanley Kramer's legendary ‘It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’ should be very pleased with this new reconstruction of the film. Despite the quality of the surviving footage, it maintains an excellent rhythm. Naturally, unless there is a major discovery in the future and more rare footage resurfaces, I think it is fair to say that the extended version of the film will remain its definitive presentation on the home video market. With this The Criterion Collection Blu-ray release of ‘It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’ has already produced the single greatest Blu-ray package of this year. The film remains one of the absolute funniest comedies ever made, so it makes sense that The Criterion Collection would release a Blu-ray that would match this film's sheer extravagance! An absolute must own for anyone and everyone! Very Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom