It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad picture. Being a picture of extravagant proportions, even its few flaws are king-sized, but the plusses outweigh by far the minuses. It is a throwback to the wild, wacky and wondrous time of the silent screen comedy, a kind of Keystone Kop Kaper with modern conveniences.
The plot is disarmingly simple. A group of people are given a clue by a dying man (Jimmy Durante) as to the whereabouts of a huge sum of money he has stolen and buried. Unable to come to a compromise in apportionment of the anticipated loot, each sets out for the roughly specified site of the buried cash, breaking his back to beat the others there. All are unaware that they are under secret surveillance by state police authorities, who are allowing them simply to lead the way to the money.
Nothing is done in moderation in this picture. All the stops are out. Nobody goes around what they can go over, under, through or into. Yet, as noted, the film is not without its flaws and oversights. Too often it tries to throw a wild haymaker where a simple left jab would be more apt to locate the desired target. Certain pratfalls and sequences are unneccessarily overdone to the point where they begin to grow tedious and reduce the impact of the whole.
An array of top-ranking comics has been rounded up by director Stanley Kramer, making this one of the most unorthodox and memorable casts on screen record. The comic competition is so keen that it is impossible to single out any one participant as outstanding.
1963: Best Sound Effects.
Nominations: Best Color Cinematography, Editing, Original Music Score, Song (‘It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World’), Sound