Blu-ray Review: It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

STUDIO: Criterion | DIRECTOR: Stanley Kramer | CAST: Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Ethel Merman, Dick Shawn, Mickey Rooney, Spencer Tracy, Jonathan Winters, Phil Silvers, Buddy Hackett, Terry-Thomas, Edie Adams, Dorothy Provine
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 1/21/2014 | PRICE: Blu-ray/DVD Combo $49.95
BONUSES: commentary, 197 minute extended version, new and vintage featurettes, more
SPECS: NR | 163 min. | Comedy | 2.76:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

The much-loved if critically wounded all-star 1963 classic comedy epic It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World receives an affectionate re-issue from the Criterion Collection.

This new edition is led by a reconstruction and restoration of a 202-minute extended version of the film, utilizing visual and audio material from the original road-show version—including some scenes that have been returned to the film for the first time.

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World movie scene

The comedy legends of yesteryear come together for It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

There are also a helluva lots of supplements, including talk show clips, press junkets, AFI interviews, premiere footage, and live Q&As that have been staged over the past couple of decades. (The most recent is a program from 2012 featuring cast and crew members at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, hosted by Billy Crystal.)

But the most engrossing bonuses are the newly produced featurettes on the film’s visual and sound effects, which pay some serious tribute to supervising sound editor Walter Elliot and visual effects artist Linwood Dunn, two respected veterans of their crafts  who have five Oscars between them. Elliot, a first-generation sound man who worked on such classics as King Kong and Citizen Kane, brought his considerable expertise to Mad World, highlighted by the amazing audio effects we hear during a classic scene where Jonathan Winters demolishes a roadside service station. Linwood Dunn, who also contributed to Kong and Kane, as well as West Side Story and Kubrick’s 2001, broke in his breakthrough “traveling split screen craftwork in Mad World (which is seen to greatest effect during the station scene, as well as the airplane and hardware store sequences).

The state-of-the-art sound and finish culminate in the grand firetruck ladder finale, where miniatures, dummies, matte paintings, stop motion animation and sound effects comes together in grand fashion. And it’s can be seen being created in several minutes of awesome 16mm home movie footage that was shot on the set as the finale was being mounted.

Overall, Criterion’s offering of Mad World is a must-see for fans of the flick!


Buy or Rent It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.