Thursday, July 21, 2011

It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

I don't know how many times I've watched It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. Whenever I can't sleep at night, I turn it on and I go right to sleep.

Starred a bunch of TV stars. Sid Caesar, Milton Berle, Jonathan Winters, and Phil Silvers all had TV shows. Plus there was Uncle Charlie from My Three Sons, Andy Devine who had a children's show at one point and was a semi-regular on Flipper. There was Mr Howell from Gilligan's Island, Jack Benny in a brief appearance. There was Zasu Pitts from Erich von Stroheim's Greed.

I didn't recognize the women in it---Sid Cesar and Milton Berle's wives---but they were on TV shows. Sid Caesar's wife was Edie Adams, Ernie Kovaks' widow.

Plus Norman Fell who went on to be TV's Mr Roper. He played Freud on an episode of Bewitched. What did Buddy Hackett do?

Arnold Stang, who played a heroin addict in The Man With The Golden Arm.

Here are the things that have bothered me more and more:

At the beginning, when Jonathan Winters, in his moving van behind the other cars, slows down, stops, gets out of the truck and then sneaks around the corner on foot, what WAS he trying to do? It doesn't make sense, and he explaines, "All right, I was trying to----aw, rats!"

When Ethel Merman calls her son, Dick Shawn, to tell him to go dig up the money, he refuses to listen and tells her to stay right there---he's coming to save her! Why didn't she simply call him again? They were using a pay phone and maybe they needed more change, but why didn't she get more change if this was the case?

Buddy Hackett's acting was terrible. In the initial death scene, Mickey Rooney was the only one who acted appropriately.

And there was the part where Spencer Tracy has his wife on one phone and his daughter on another. He holds the receivers together so they can talk to each other, but he holds them both right side up. Shouldn't one have been upside down so the speaker would be close to the mouthpiece?

What crime did the cab drivers commit? Why did Spencer Tracy tell THEM to turn themselves in?

How many car crashes did these people cause? Wouldn't it have made more sense for the police to have arrested them and then demand the information from them?

When they were parked on the side of the road, they agreed they needed to get their cars off the curve. They pointed "over there", to a wide spot where they could meet. It was behind where the cars were. Did they make U-turns to get back to that spot? It didn't seem like it was that easy. I had an Imperial, and the turning radius was terrible. You couldn't do a U-turn on a two lane road, and even of you could, it would be extremely dangerous.

How come Dick Shawn, a lifeguard, had such a nice car, shiny new Chrysler convertible?

Wasn't it awfully dangerous, Phil Silvers driving around with a child sitting next to him with the passenger-side door torn off his car? There were no seat belts.

Did drivers back then always stop when they saw people on foot waving to them to stop? And did children back then hop into cars with strange men because they offered them a dollar?

How did the police know the names of all the people? At one point, when one of them was summing up the action, how did he know about Dick Shawn? How did they know who Ethel Merman called and the content of the phone call?

Didn't any of the cops think that they should intervene when they saw all the accidents and destruction these people were causing?

There were no seat belts back then. They didn't even have padded dashboards. Even the "minor" accidents in the movie were potentially fatal.

Why did all the characters have to suffer so horribly at the end?

Didn't any of the people think about how they were going to spend tens of thousands of dollars in cash without the IRS finding out? It was probably less of an issue back then, but it seems like it would still be something to consider.

Where did Jimmy Durante get his car? He'd just gotten out of prison.

Would rear-ending a car really cause that much damage to a moving van?

Why they keep calling Ethel Merman an "old bag"? She was only 55. She was the same age as Milton Berle.

Jerry Lewis's cameo----why was he acting like that? It was completely out of character with the rest of the movie.

Why was Stan Freberg wasted, just sitting in the background while Andy Devine talked on the phone?


That's the stuff that bothered me. I know there were continuity errors and other mistakes, like cameras and crew being reflected in the car windows, that bother other people.

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