A group of strangers come across a man dying after a car crash who proceeds to tell them about the $350,000 he buried in California. What follows is the madcap adventures of those strangers as each attempts to claim the prize for himself.
It's every man (and old bag) for himself.
It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World is one of those films that as a child I went to the cinema to watch and then proceeded to talk about it enthusiastically in the playground for weeks afterwards. So I find myself here in my middle age with mixed feelings after just revisiting this extravaganza for the first time in many a year.
It's very much a film of three parts to me, and each part impacts differently on the entertainment scale. The first part of this multi cast piece is as madcap and as mirthful as you could honestly wish to see, but this sadly ill prepares you for a middle part that outstays its welcome to the point that you can't believe they stretched it to an original cut of 3 hours! The final third of the film saves it from smug overkill because by now you have invested so much time into the film, you thank the gods for any sort of frivolity - and thankfully the film does lift you back up to the happy place that you had visited an hour previously.
The cast are fine, where some brilliant shows are mixed in with the merely acceptable ones, and I wouldn't want to be so churlish as to dissect each actors respective show. However, as a Phil Silvers fan I'm rewarded plenty enough and as a Spencer Tracy acolyte I'm burning candles again in his honour. Yet it's Ethel Merman as Mrs. Marcus that lives long and glorious in the memory here, and honestly I feel the film is worth a watch purely just for her. The set pieces are fine and the stunts are truly a feast for the eyes, but ultimately one comes away thinking this film should have been a masterpiece instead of the overkilled and overlong experience that it is. 6.5/10
United Artists, Casey Productions by Stanley Kramer, William Rose, Tania Rose.
Stars: Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney.
Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Crime
Keywords: competition prison california chase airplane national park treasure hunt slapstick money car chase desert race cash
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