Labor of Love

I saw the movie, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World when it first came out in 1963 at the drive-in. Subsequently, I saw it twice more in the theater and have seen it several times on television and once or twice on DVD. I could probably recite it from memory at this point so I think I love the movie as much as the next man.

Or, at least, I thought so until today. Cruise on over to this web site. There the owner has painstakingly compiled a list of the locations used in the filming of the picture with recent photographs of what those locations look like now. Or this site where the owner has, quite literally, hundreds of such match-ups. Practically a frame by frame recreation of the entire movie in present-day photographs.

I wonder whether young people today find IAMMMMW as funny as I did and still do? I’m guessing that they don’t have the patience for it but that’s just a guess. Whatever you think of it, it remains a great document of the greatest comedy performers of the twentieth century from about 1920 to 1963. I don’t think it’s the material but the raw talent of the people who made the picture that makes it funny.

Remarkably, considering that the picture turns 50 this year and most of the cast was, well, mature when it was made, a number of the major and featured cast members are still alive. By my reckoning as of March 2013, Mickey Rooney, Sid Caesar (the dentist trapped in the basement of the hardware store), Jonathan Winters (truck driver Lenny Pike), Marvin Kaplan (one of the owners of the desert filling station destroyed by Lenny Pike), Jerry Lewis (cameo as driver who runs over Capt. Culpepper’s hat), Barrie Chase (bikini-clad woman dancing with Dick Shawn in his beach house and Fred Astaire’s dancing partner on TV), Carl Reiner (in the airport control tower, seminal writer of early television), and Stan Freberg (also in the airport control tower, best known for radio humor).

2 comments… add one
  • jan Link


    You definitely have a diverse nature — from serious economics, politics, to a receptive funny bone!

    I remember seeing that film in some independent theatre showing film classics. All those actors were supreme versatile, slap-stick comedians, who could create a humorous moment on the fly, IMO….especially Jonathan Winters, who was a mentor of sorts, for Robin Williams.

  • Piercello Link

    That remains a magnificent movie.

    I inflicted it on an equally warped grad student friend last year (also a fan of older movies), so I got to watch it through new eyes, as it were. He was particularly struck by the car choreography (both camerawork and driving) and by the film’s pacing. Of course, the remarkable acting talent may have been what allowed the slow build of momentum to work in the first place.

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