Last Monday was quite special at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Members of the cast and crew of the iconic It’s a Mad Mad Mad World assembled for a fun panel discussion. The 1963 epic-comedy followed, in it’s fully restored version. It was part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences six-feature The Last 70mm Film Festival, taking place over the last few weeks.
Moderating the panel, and acting as the Master of Ceremonies, was Billy Crystal. Among the folks in attendance: Mickey Rooney, Jonathan Winters, Carl Reiner, Marvin Kaplin, Barrie Chase, Stan Freberg, and the widow of director Stanley Kramer. Reportedly, Sid Caesar was unable to attend due to health issues. According to Karen Kramer, her husband took on the daunting project; kind of a personal dare after New York Times critic Bosley Crowther suggested he couldn’t make a comedy. Winters made his screen debut in this motion picture; and it was the final movie for Jimmy Durante.
The ten-minute intermission featured the original police calls as played during the initial engagements in the Cinerama Dome piped throughout the theater – even the lobby and restrooms! An added bonus, the screening was preceded by a restored 70mm print of The Miracle of Todd-AO, a 1956 short examining the technological breakthroughs of the high-resolution widescreen process first used in the classic musical Oklahoma! Mickey Rooney suggested a moment of silence in memory of Ernest Borgnine. This was a poignant reunion!
On a personal not, let me proudly suggest It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World is the funniest piece of celluloid in the history of American cinema in my humble estimation. Just saying…
Until next time> “never forget”