If ever this mad, mad, mad, mad world needed "It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world" it's now! (1970 re-release)
The dying words of a thief spark a madcap cross-country rush to find some treasure.
USA:154 min (edited version), USA:192 min (original version), USA:174 min (restored video version), 182 min (Laserdisc version) (extended re-edit)
2.20 : 1
Adventure, Comedy, Crime
Race, Desert, Bicycle, Chase, Road
4-Track Stereo, 70 mm 6-Track
Chase Movie, Farce, Ensemble Film
Treasure Hunts, Nothing Goes Right
Madcap, Frantic, Bright, Silly, Whimsical
Just for Laughs
Has Detailed Data (New)
1, 2, 3
Count - Awards
US Box Office
Country Of Origin
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is a 1963 American epic comedy film, produced and directed by Stanley Kramer and starring Spencer Tracy, about the madcap pursuit of $350,000 in stolen cash by a diverse and colorful group of strangers. The ensemble comedy premiered on November 7, 1963.
"Smiler" Grogan (Jimmy Durante), a suspect in a tuna factory robbery some 15 years earlier and on the run from the police, recklessly passes a number of vehicles on a twisting, mountainous road in Southern California's Mojave Desert before careening his car off a cliff and crashing. Five motorists from four of the passed vehicles stop to assist: dentist Melville Crump (Sid Caesar); furniture mover Lennie Pike (Jonathan Winters); "Dingy" Bell (Mickey Rooney) and "Benjy" Benjamin (Buddy Hackett), two friends on their way to Las Vegas; and entrepreneur J. Russell Finch (Milton Berle). Just before he dies, Grogan tells the men about $350,000 in cash buried "under a big 'W'" in Santa Rosita State Park in Santa Rosita Beach near the Mexican border. Two detectives (Norman Fell, Nicholas Georgiade) who had been tailing Grogan arrive, and the lead detective asks the men pointed questions about their interaction with Grogan. While not so artfully dodging the questions, each of the five internally changes from having had compassion for Grogan to becoming greedy to retrieve the treasure. The detectives permit the five to return to their vehicles after receiving Finch's contact information. The motorists then drive away from the accident site, initially testing each other's resolve on the road, then stop to try to reason with one another on how to share the money (in the "17 different ways" conversation), but when they can't agree on any one particular distribution, they run to their vehicles to engage in an all-out race to reach the loot first. All four vehicles are eventually abandoned.
Meanwhile, Captain T. G. Culpeper (Spencer Tracy), of the Santa Rosita Police Department, who has been patiently working on the Grogan case for those 15 years, hopes to solve it and retire with honor. Learning of the fatal crash, he suspects that "Smiler" might have given one or more of the witnesses a clue to the stolen loot's location and has police units track their movements. Culpeper phones police (Andy Devine, Stan Freberg) in another jurisdiction about Grogan. Culpeper's switchboard operator (ZaSu Pitts) takes calls; later, Culpeper has his own disastrous phone conversation with his wife Ginger (Selma Diamond) and their daughter Billie Sue (Louise Glenn).
Everyone experiences multiple setbacks en route to the money. Melville and his wife Monica (Edie Adams) charter a shabby World War I-era biplane to Santa Rosita from an unlicensed pilot (Ben Blue) and arrive by cab to a hardware store. After telling the cabbie (Leo Gorcey) to wait outside, a store employee (Doodles Weaver) lets them in just before closing time. But the store's owner, Mr. Dinkler (Edward Everett Horton) unaware of the couple's presence, locks the door to the basement, into which the pair had just descended, intending to find and buy a pick and shovel. Melville wrecks the place in various failed attempts to escape before blasting a hole in the wall with dynamite.
Dingy and Benjy question an attendant (Charles Lane) and, against his objections, convince pilot Tyler Fitzgerald (Jim Backus) to shuttle them to Santa Rosita in his modern twin-engine aircraft. Fitzgerald carelessly lets them operate the controls while he mixes drinks in the back of the plane; soon Benjy's erratic steering knock