It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)

192 mins | Comedy | November 1963

Full page view
HISTORY

The 3 Jan 1962 DV announced that Milton Berle was the first of more than fifty comics to be cast in filmmaker Stanley Kramer’s upcoming production. The 15 May 1962 DV noted that Berle had a five-month commitment to the project. According to the 17 Nov 1963 NYT, screenwriter William Rose approached Kramer with the idea for a highly visual comedy built around an elaborate chase, “against a background of time pressure” in which one minute of screen time accounted for two minutes of the story. After determining that the characters should be played by some of the world’s greatest comics, Kramer decided to film during the summer to accommodate the cast’s nightclub and television obligations. The filmmaker ensured there would be available stand-ins throughout the extended shoot by hiring a team of stunt players, paying them a weekly retainer in addition to their per-stunt fees. Principal photography began 26 Apr 1962, as stated in 4 May 1962 DV production charts. The 18 Jun 1962 DV identified one of the locations as Palm Springs, CA. Other CA locations included Long Beach (26 Jul 1962 DV), Malibu, “Portuguese Bend” in Rancho Palos Verdes, and Revue (Universal) Studios in Los Angeles (31 Jul 1962 DV). The 24 Jun 1962 NYT estimated the budget at $6 million.
       The 27 Jan 1962 LAT noted that Carol Channing was chosen to play opposite Sid Caesar; she was later replaced by Edie Adams. The 5 Jan 1962 DV reported that Martha Raye was also considered for ... More Less

The 3 Jan 1962 DV announced that Milton Berle was the first of more than fifty comics to be cast in filmmaker Stanley Kramer’s upcoming production. The 15 May 1962 DV noted that Berle had a five-month commitment to the project. According to the 17 Nov 1963 NYT, screenwriter William Rose approached Kramer with the idea for a highly visual comedy built around an elaborate chase, “against a background of time pressure” in which one minute of screen time accounted for two minutes of the story. After determining that the characters should be played by some of the world’s greatest comics, Kramer decided to film during the summer to accommodate the cast’s nightclub and television obligations. The filmmaker ensured there would be available stand-ins throughout the extended shoot by hiring a team of stunt players, paying them a weekly retainer in addition to their per-stunt fees. Principal photography began 26 Apr 1962, as stated in 4 May 1962 DV production charts. The 18 Jun 1962 DV identified one of the locations as Palm Springs, CA. Other CA locations included Long Beach (26 Jul 1962 DV), Malibu, “Portuguese Bend” in Rancho Palos Verdes, and Revue (Universal) Studios in Los Angeles (31 Jul 1962 DV). The 24 Jun 1962 NYT estimated the budget at $6 million.
       The 27 Jan 1962 LAT noted that Carol Channing was chosen to play opposite Sid Caesar; she was later replaced by Edie Adams. The 5 Jan 1962 DV reported that Martha Raye was also considered for a role, as was Cara Williams, according to the 27 Feb 1962 DV. Neither appeared in the completed film. As stated in the 10 Jul 1962 LAT, character actor Sammee Tong agreed to play a “Chinese laundryman,” providing was not expected to behave as an ethnic stereotype. The 22 Aug 1962 DV revealed that comedian Dick Shawn had a television obligation in late Sep 1962, followed by a nightclub engagement in Las Vegas, NV, both of which coincided with his appearance in the film. Kramer extended the completion date to 6 Oct 1962, and Shawn agreed to commute from Las Vegas. The 24 Oct 1962 LAT reported that Kramer was unable to find an actor willing to portray a character identified in the screenplay as simply “funny-looking man.” The filmmaker removed the obstacle by naming the character “Mr. Blodgett.”
       Difficulties occurred during production as well. The 24 Jun 1962 NYT reported that several retakes were needed for a scene in which Sid Caesar attacked a door with a sledgehammer, because the crew was unable to contain its laughter. Later that summer, two three-foot-long pretzels, which Kramer ordered from Philadelphia, PA, disappeared at the Los Angeles airport. As filming drew to a close on the Universal Studios lot, the 28 Nov 1962 DV reported that background actor Allan Salin was shot in the chest following an altercation with armed security guard Vance Boyd. When approximately 250 of Salin’s colleagues threatened to lynch the guard, studio police captain Ray L. Galyean led Boyd to safety. Also wounded in the shooting were Wayne Anderson, Danny Hadzig, Charna McNeill, Ann Schmidt, and Dalene Young, struck by concrete fragments after Boyd fired into the sidewalk. All, including Salin, recovered from their wounds. While accounts varied as to who instigated the fight, witnesses agreed that it began when Boyd prevented Salin from boarding a crowded bus bound for the studio gates. Boyd was charged with “assault with intent to commit murder,” and was tried on 8 Feb 1963, as stated in the 24 Jan 1963 DV. The trial ended with a hung jury, the majority of which favored acquittal. Months later, the 21 May 1963 DV reported the Los Angeles District Attorney’s motion to dismiss charges against Boyd.
       The 6 Dec 1962 DV announced that the picture’s climactic scene was completed that day. Upon their dismissal, 2,000 background actors, chosen mostly from “State Unemployment rolls,” requested autographs from Kramer and his assistant, Ivan Volkman.
       Months after photography had ended, the 20 Mar 1963 DV stated that executives of distributor United Artists Corporation visited Film Effects of Hollywood, where company president Linwood Dunn demonstrated how special effects would be employed in completing the picture. The 19 Apr 1963 DV reported Kramer’s prediction that the comedy would earn $100 million in gross revenues. Final production costs totalled $8.5 million. Two months later, the 20 Jun 1963 DV noted that composer Ernest Gold was in the process of recording the score at Goldwyn Studios with the ninety-seven-piece Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.
       The 17 Oct 1963 DV reported a cross-promotion involving the Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlor chain and vocal group The Shirelles, whose current album, 31 Flavors, featured the film’s title song.
       On 12 Apr 1963, LAT announced the 7 Nov 1963 premiere at the Pacific Cinerama Theater, which was currently under construction. The picture was the first to employ the new single-lens Cinerama process, as stated in the 7 Jun 1963 LAT. A press screening was scheduled for 3 Nov 1963. The 28 Oct 1963 LAT reported that CA Governor Edmund G. Brown would perform the ribbon-cutting ceremony, declaring the theater officially open. Also attending would be 250 reporters from around the world. It was noted in the 31 Oct 1963 LAT that the screening would be followed by a “Mad Ball” at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA. Days later, Kramer defended the costly event in the 7 Nov 1963 LAT , saying the $250,000 investment would generate substantial publicity for the picture. The article claimed it was the most extravagant press junket in “Hollywood history,” with reporters attending from fifty-three U.S. cities and twenty-six foreign countries.
       According to the 1 Aug 1963 LAT, the premiere screening was sponsored by the Cedars Women’s Guild, with proceeds benefitting the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital. Actress Rosalind Russell was the “honorary chairman.” Debut screenings were scheduled for 17 Nov 1963 in New York City and Washington, DC, as stated in the 24 Jun 1963 NYT. The events benefitted the Kennedy Child Study Center of New York, and the Lieut. Joseph P. Kennedy Child Institute of Washington. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and her sister-in-law, Ethel Kennedy, were expected to attend the New York City screening. The first lady’s husband, President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated 22 Nov 1963.
       It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World opened to generally positive reviews, some of which compared it to the Mack Sennett comedies of the 1920s. The 5 Nov 1963 LAT, however, denounced the film as “a savage morality play in the guise of comedy.” Regardless, the film was named “Picture of the Month” by Seventeen magazine, and placed among the 29 Dec 1963 NYT list of ten best films of the year. The picture garnered Academy Award nominations for Film Editing, Music Score (Substantially Original), Song, Sound, Cinematography (Color), and Sound Effects, winning in the latter category. According to the 27 Oct 1964 DV, it earned $1,297,349 during its forty-seven-week Los Angeles run.
       Casting announcements during production included Barbara Heller and Jackie Mason (27 Apr 1962 DV); Horace McMahon (19 Jun 1962 DV); Paul Picerni, Bert Rumsey, and Edward Rosson (21 Jun 1962 DV); Phil Arnold (3 Jul 1962 DV); Everett Mills and Cardella De Milo (13 Dec 1962 Los Angeles Sentinel). The 30 Oct 1962 DV revealed that comedian Jack Benny refused the role of “Capt. C. G. Culpeper” as the twelve-week obligation coincided with the production of his weekly television series. Benny did, however, agree to a brief appearance, on the condition that he received no credit, publicity, or compensation. According to the 20 Aug 1962 DV, actor Frank Faylen accepted a role the previous week, but later declined in deference to his television series, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (29 Sep 1959 – 5 Jun 1963).
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World marked the final screen appearance of ZaSu Pitts, who died of cancer 7 Jun 1963.
       Various sources stated that location scenes were filmed in Santa Rosita Beach State Park, California. Screen credits extend thanks to the California communities of Agoura, Kernville, Long Beach, Malibu, Oxnard, Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Palos Verdes Estates, San Pedro, Santa Ana, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, 29 Palms, Universal City, and Yucca Valley. Reviews reported running times of 190 to 197 minutes; continuity lists 162 minutes for 70mm prints and 154 minutes for 35mm. The 70mm showings included eight minutes of music and sixteen minutes of intermission, considered to be part of the presentation in early engagements. "News bulletins," recorded as part of the soundtrack, reported progress in the search for the money.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
3 Jan 1962
p. 3.
Daily Variety
5 Jan 1962
p. 4.
Daily Variety
27 Feb 1962
p. 4.
Daily Variety
27 Apr 1962
p. 3.
Daily Variety
4 May 1962
p. 12.
Daily Variety
15 May 1962
p. 8.
Daily Variety
18 Jun 1962
p. 4.
Daily Variety
19 Jun 1962
p. 9.
Daily Variety
21 Jun 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
3 Jul 1962
p. 9.
Daily Variety
26 Jul 1962
p. 3.
Daily Variety
31 Jul 1962
p. 4.
Daily Variety
20 Aug 1962
p. 3, 8.
Daily Variety
22 Aug 1962
p. 3.
Daily Variety
29 Aug 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
30 Oct 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
1 Nov 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
21 Nov 1962
p. 1.
Daily Variety
28 Nov 1962
p. 1, 8.
Daily Variety
29 Nov 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
6 Dec 1962
p. 3.
Daily Variety
24 Jan 1963
p. 18.
Daily Variety
20 Mar 1963
p. 12.
Daily Variety
19 Apr 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
21 May 1963
p. 1.
Daily Variety
20 Jun 1963
p. 11.
Daily Variety
12 Sep 1963
p. 7.
Daily Variety
17 Oct 1963
p. 9.
Daily Variety
5 Nov 1963
p. 3, 5.
Daily Variety
24 Dec 1963
p. 13.
Daily Variety
14 Apr 1964
p. 13.
Daily Variety
27 Oct 1964
p. 18.
Los Angeles Sentinel
13 Dec 1962
Section A, p. 17.
Los Angeles Times
27 Jan 1962
Section B, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
1 Jul 1962
Section A, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
10 Jul 1962
Section C, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
24 Oct 1962
Section C, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
12 Apr 1963
Section A, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
7 Jun 1963
Section A, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
1 Aug 1963
Section C, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
23 Oct 1963
Section F, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
28 Oct 1963
Section E, p. 15.
Los Angeles Times
31 Oct 1963
Section C, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
5 Nov 1963
Section C, p. 11.
New York Times
24 Jun 1962
p. 83.
New York Times
8 Jun 1963
p. 25.
New York Times
24 Jun 1963
p. 21.
New York Times
7 Nov 1963
p. 32.
New York Times
17 Nov 1963
Section X, p. 9.
New York Times
19 Nov 1963
p. 46.
New York Times
24 Nov 1963
p. 27.
New York Times
29 Dec 1963
Section X, p. 1, 9.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Eddie "Rochester" Anderson
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Stanley Kramer Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
WRITERS
Story & scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl photog
Addl photog
Asst cam
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Cost des
SOUND
Sd eng
Sd dir
Re-rec
Re-rec
Re-rec
Music ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Photog eff
Photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to the dir
Asst to prod
Prod mgr
Prod coordinator
Scr supv
Stunt supv
Aerial supv
Aerial supv
Company grip
Ch gaffer
Prop master
Main titles
SOURCES
SONGS
"It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World," "Thirty One Flavors" and "You Satisfy My Soul," words and music by by Ernest Gold and Mack David.
DETAILS
Release Date:
November 1963
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles premiere: 7 November 1963
New York opening: 17 November 1963
Production Date:
26 April--early December 1963
Copyright Claimant:
Casey Productions
Copyright Date:
7 November 1963
Copyright Number:
LP28452
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex
Color
Technicolor
gauge
35 & 70
Widescreen/ratio
Ultra-Panavision, see note
Duration(in mins):
192
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Passengers from four vehicles rush to the scene of an accident after a fast-moving car sails off the edge of a mountain road and tumbles down a steep embankment. They include J. Russell Finch, president of the Pacific Edible Seaweed Company, who is traveling with his wife, Emmeline, and his shrewish mother-in-law, Mrs. Marcus; dentist Melville Crump and his wife, Monica; gag-writers Benjy Benjamin and Ding Bell; and furniture mover Lennie Pike. The victim, Smiler Grogan, reveals with his dying breath that he has buried $350,000 in stolen money under the "Big W" at Santa Rosita Beach State Park. Unable to determine the identity of the "Big W" or even to decide on a way to divide the cash, the greedy witnesses disperse and head for the park. Along the way, the Finch party takes on Englishman J. Algernon Hawthorne and Mrs. Marcus' beatnik son, Sylvester, and is forced to tell them of the money. The Crumps charter a dilapidated plane to give themselves a time advantage but are later delayed when they are accidentally locked in a department store basement and forced to set off an explosion to free themselves. Benjy and Ding ask drunken millionaire Tyler Fitzgerald to fly them to the site in his private plane, but he accidentally knocks himself unconscious in the cabin, and the two writers are forced to crash-land in an airport restaurant. Lennie, who has demolished a service station in his zeal to reach the park, is forced to take traveling salesman Otto Meyer into his confidence and later swears revenge when Meyer leaves him stranded on the road. Meanwhile, state police captain C. G. Culpeper, who has pursued Grogan for ... +


Passengers from four vehicles rush to the scene of an accident after a fast-moving car sails off the edge of a mountain road and tumbles down a steep embankment. They include J. Russell Finch, president of the Pacific Edible Seaweed Company, who is traveling with his wife, Emmeline, and his shrewish mother-in-law, Mrs. Marcus; dentist Melville Crump and his wife, Monica; gag-writers Benjy Benjamin and Ding Bell; and furniture mover Lennie Pike. The victim, Smiler Grogan, reveals with his dying breath that he has buried $350,000 in stolen money under the "Big W" at Santa Rosita Beach State Park. Unable to determine the identity of the "Big W" or even to decide on a way to divide the cash, the greedy witnesses disperse and head for the park. Along the way, the Finch party takes on Englishman J. Algernon Hawthorne and Mrs. Marcus' beatnik son, Sylvester, and is forced to tell them of the money. The Crumps charter a dilapidated plane to give themselves a time advantage but are later delayed when they are accidentally locked in a department store basement and forced to set off an explosion to free themselves. Benjy and Ding ask drunken millionaire Tyler Fitzgerald to fly them to the site in his private plane, but he accidentally knocks himself unconscious in the cabin, and the two writers are forced to crash-land in an airport restaurant. Lennie, who has demolished a service station in his zeal to reach the park, is forced to take traveling salesman Otto Meyer into his confidence and later swears revenge when Meyer leaves him stranded on the road. Meanwhile, state police captain C. G. Culpeper, who has pursued Grogan for years, is having everyone carefully watched, patiently waiting for them to lead him to the hiding place; the captain, plagued by an unhappy family life and an inadequate pension plan, has decided to steal the money himself. The group, since joined by two taxi drivers, eventually discover four palm trees growing in the shape of a "W," and they uncover the money. Culpeper moves in to arrest the group and then tries to escape with the suitcase full of money. The men in the group pursue him in the two taxis and end up on the top of a fire escape of a condemned building where, in the confusion, the suitcase opens and scatters money to the crowd of spectators below. The fire escape comes unhinged and the fire department tries to rescue the men with a ladder truck, but the ladder topples when everyone climbs on simultaneously. The men are thrown to the ground, and all end up in the hospital--badly injured and under custody, with bankruptcy and prison sentences awaiting them. Culpeper is wondering if he will ever be able to laugh again when the despised Mrs. Marcus enters the corridor and slips on a banana peel. The downtrodden men burst into uncontrollable laughter. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.