Written by / 4/14/2016 / No comments / , , , , , , , ,

BAD LONGER VERSION OF MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD

Review of the much too extended version of IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD before having seen the original
AN IMPORTANT NOTE before reading this review... IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD MAD WORLD was viewed, for the very first time, on the big screen in a retro theater, just last week, and it was the version that is reviewed below, which was written before even realizing there was a much. much. much, much better original version at all...

"What's in the bawwwwwx?"
Thus, the film is torn apart for an abundance of flaws, and yet now, after ordering the beautiful Criterion Blu Ray/DVD package, and watching the ORIGINAL THEATRICAL CUT, it's like experiencing an entirely different motion picture, one that actually has wonderful, flowing motion instead of sinking slowly into proverbial quicksand for nearly three overlong hours...

Getting the plot and misadventure underway in five minutes instead of twenty is one of many changes... Again, like just mentioned, yours truly had no idea there was an extended edition, and why, if playing classic old movies in theaters, would the "Director's Cut" or "Extended Edition" be shown instead of the one originally viewed on the big screen to audiences seeing it for the first time? (Same thing happened with GOOD BAD UGLY... promoting the original but instead showing the one where scenes, like Tuco with the chickens, are added with a completely different film stock). In that, newcomers to MAD WORLD should see the original theatrical version just like people did in 1963, without the Director or Studio, or whoever is responsible for this catastrophe trying to improve upon a Classic: Being too close to the material at hand, there seems to be no realization that what's left out is, in fact, shown even more clearly by not having it there at all. For this is where the viewer's imagination comes in, which is what makes a film worth watching, again and again and again. And, so, before journeying through this writeup, note that the long, long, long, long version is downright horrible while the original is absolutely fantastic... Scenes that cut to lead to others are extended to the point that when you reach the next scene you forget about why there was a last scene... And so much time's spent talking there's simply no adventure or journey happening at all... So there you have it... Alas, since the Landmark Presentation Series decided to overindulge modern audiences with a piece much different than what made it truly shine and memorable and incredible way back when, that's what this somewhat negative review is centered on... Passing the buck, but with reason... Thus the...

REVIEW OF THE EXTENDED CUT BEGINS HERE: Many films have followed the heels and back bumpers of IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD... That's four MAD's for four cars, at first, whose inhabitants witness another car drive off a cliff and a whispered, dying man's secret – like a few years later would happen to Clint Eastwood against poor Elli Wallach in THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY – is heard by a couple of fellas: Yet soon enough their women and a few others catch wind of a race to find a bunch of loot buried underneath a mysterious, unknown "W"...

Release Date: 1963
With a cache of old-time comedians either well past or just slightly past their prime, including Milton Berle, Mickey Rooney, Sid Caesar and Jonathan Winters, it's the slow, offbeat, off-road timing when MAD starts to feel like it's going absolutely nowhere. But eventually, after the set-up is discussed more than enough, we venture with separate characters in various misadventures including Sid Caesar and wife taking a shortcut by air as well as a faster Mickey Rooney and Buddy Hackett along with snail-paced, bad luck car sequences with Berle, Englishmen Terry-Thomas, and... well...

Muscular girl and Dick Shawn
Well one can go on all day and night discussing the myriad of names and cameos, because MAD WORLD has countless "hey isn't that?" along the way, but it should be said, in this extremely overlong and sometimes torturous experience, that dragging pace actually kind of relaxes the viewer into a flatlined sense of sublime submission: For it's nice to see such talented has-beens reinvigorated by the colorful early 60's antics wherein youngsters – soon to completely rule the culture in both film and music – are hardly around at all, if you don't count Dick Shawn as a "hippie" lifeguard who looks older and older the more he rushes to protect his mom: Bringing to mind several characters, including and especially a perpetually nagging Ethel Merman, that you'll wish would die by the wayside long before the race finally curves and swerves towards what seems to be a near-conclusion (several, actually), or, like Phil Silvers, we flounder with certain people that just aren't important enough to spend so much time on...

Columbo, Rooney & Dorothy Provine
And last but not least, the first-billed, stand-alone star, a very old and sun-beaten Spencer Tracy as a desk-riding cop on an ambiguous, sneaky route to keep his eyes on every single racer, is given less dialogue and more news of the action at a faster pace, which would have helped the viewing audience: but those wide-shot aerial and ground stunts, when the spastic humans vanish for a few nice moments, are filmed beautifully by director Stanley Kramer, so if you're stuck on this wacky highway, it's best to just go, go, go, go right along with it. And now, owning the Blu Ray and being able to enjoy the original theatrical version, going with the flow is a piece of cake! And stay tuned for, one day soon, or maybe not so soon but eventually, a review of the original version without the distraction of having to suffer through a studio that has more faith in verbal gluttony than brilliant editing.

1941 is a MAD inspired wreck
EXTENDED CUT: **1/2
THEATRICAL: ****
TRIVIA: A few of the cameos that are blink or mess include The Three Stooges, with Chemp, who look as if they had been embalmed as anticipating firemen, and only Larry is shown later on doing an action sequence at the end: others include a wasted Buster Keaton moment and... was it Jerry Lewis laughing in the car while running over Spencer Tracy's favorite hat, or was that a mere hallucination? • THE GREAT RACE and CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG are older films that borrowed from MAD MAD WORLD while more "modern" versions include Roger Corman's gritty CANNONBALL and of course the Burt Reynolds streamline classic, in this reviewer's opinion beating them all, hands down, THE CANNONBALL RUN... the first one! And Steven Spielberg's first financial "disaster," which Cult Film Freak genuinely admires, the silly World War II extravaganza, 1941, is obviously inspired by this non-stop romp • Peter Falk, a decade shy of being one of the greatest television actors in the role of COLUMBO (the pilot directed by a young Steven Spielberg), a detective that tricks people into thinking he hasn't a clue with more clues than Sherlock Holmes, turns in a small role as one of two cabbies in this venture, and a much bigger part in THE GREAT RACE • Summing up, the film's tagline (on the big poster at the top of the review) is sign of the times, or of a time rising: "If ever this Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad world needed 'It's a Mad, Mad, Mad Mad World,' IT'S NOW!" For it began  during the 1960's that we had to qualify to have a really good time without being strained with ideals or, like Steve McQueen's classic BULLITT, the tag being: "The word 'cop' isn't written all over him - something more puzzling is"... Like the jovial race is to a workaday detective, one, for some reason, "puzzling," the other as crazy as society, there's a built-in caution to promote vehicles that don't fully cater to the young generation, making MAD WORLD an Old Fashion nightcap on the verge of the Baby Boomer rise, which, to this day, for better or worse, has never subsided – and now more than ever, with their Political Correctness a relatively new form of religion, we still have to perpetually apologize.
Check out the Criterion Blu Ray/DVD with both versions, for it's one of the best Criterions out there...
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