It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World [1963]

Stanley Kramer's sprawling 1963 comedy about a search for buried treasure by at least a dozen people--all played by well-known entertainers of their day--is the kind of mass comedy that Hollywood hasn't made in many years. (Another example from around the same time is Blake Edwards's The Great Race.) After a number of strangers (including Milton Berle, Jonathan Winters, Sid Caesar, Phil Silvers, and others) witness a dying stranger (Jimmy Durante) identify the location of hidden money, a conflict-ridden hunt begins, watched over carefully by a suspicious cop (Spencer Tracy). The ensuing two and a half hours of mayhem has its ups and downs--some bits and performers are certainly funnier than others. But Kramer, who is better known for socially conscious, serious cinema (Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?), is in a mood for broad comic characterization, and some of his jokes are so intentionally obvious (Durante literally kicks a bucket when he dies), they'd have a place in Airplane! Watch for lots of cameo appearances, including Jerry Lewis (who had called Kramer and asked him why he hadn't been invited to participate). --Tom Keogh

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