It was meant to be the movie comedy to end all movie comedies. And clocking in at four hours (plus an intermission) when it opened the Cinerama Dome in 1963, "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" certainly was the longest comedy ever made.
Produced and directed by the late Stanley Kramer, best known for such socially conscious dramas as "The Defiant Ones," "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" and "Judgment at Nuremberg," the frenetic comedy starred Spencer Tracy along with some of the greatest comic actors of the time, including Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Edie Adams, Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman, Jonathan Winters, Phil Silvers, Dick Shawn, Terry-Thomas, Mickey Rooney, Stan Freberg, Jerry Lewis, Jack Benny and Buster Keaton. Filled with slapstick stunts, spectacular car chases and crashes, the comedy revolved around a group of average, upstanding Americans who turn into a greedy horde after they are given the key to locating $350,000 in stolen bank loot from a dying mobster (Jimmy Durante).
On Wednesday, the American Cinematheque is presenting a new 35-millimeter print of a two-hour, 41-minute version of the film and a cast and crew reunion hosted by Karen Sharpe Kramer, the widow of the director. Among those scheduled to appear are Winters, Caesar, Rooney, Adams, Peter Falk, Don Knotts, Madlyn Rhue, editor Robert Jones, stuntman Loren Janes and casting director Lynn Stalmaster. The cast and crew also will give a posthumous award to Stanley Kramer for making the movie. MGM/UA and Turner Classic Movies are sponsoring the event.