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Blu-ray Reviews

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World Blu-ray Review



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#1 of 51 ONLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted July 14 2011 - 10:22 AM

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It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (Blu-ray)
Directed by Stanley Kramer

Studio: MGM/UA
Year: 1963
Aspect Ratio: 2.76:1   1080p   AVC codec
Running Time: 159 minutes
Rating: G
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 French, 2.0 Spanish
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, French


Region: A
MSRP: $ 19.99



Release Date: July 5, 2011

Review Date: July 14, 2011



The Film

4/5


“Bigger isn’t necessarily better” so the old saying goes, but in the case of Stanley Kramer’s It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, bigger is just fine and dandy. In terms of its scale, the number of stars, its epic length, and its uncanny ability to sustain the madcap farce for almost three hours, the film outstrips other big budget comedies like The Great Race, Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, and 1941 and leaves them in the dust (though I have always been rather partial to The Great Race in a head-to-head competition for sheer belly laughs). Kramer’s nutty comedy may not be the wittiest or subtlest movie ever made, but it’s a deeply funny, genuinely riotous movie that has easily stood the test of time.


Five travelers (Milton Berle, Mickey Rooney, Buddy Hackett, Sid Caesar, and Jonathan Winters) are on hand to hear the dying confession of a shifty bandit (Jimmy Durante) fatally injured in a car crash. He tells them of a $350,000 windfall buried underneath a “big W” in Santa Rosita Beach State Park, and while the group initially agrees to work together and split the money equally, suspicions and greed force them to ditch that plan and instead pit each against the other in a race to find the loot. Meanwhile, their every move is being monitored by Santa Rosita police captain C. G. Culpepper (Spencer Tracy) who listens in awe to reports of these basically law-abiding citizens breaking every law in the book in a mad scramble to get to the money before the others.


The script by William and Tania Rose contains only a fair degree of wit but an ample supply of slapstick farce, and the demands for death-defying stunt work especially on the roads and in the skies of California simply defy rational explanation. Among the chaotic highlights of the film are Jonathan Winters’ astounding destruction of a roadside gas station (with a terrified Marvin Kaplan and Arnold Stang helplessly trying to stay alive), Sid Caesar and Edie Adams’ lengthy series of maneuvers (involving fire extinguishers, blow torches, hundreds of cans of paint, and several sticks of dynamite) to escape from the locked basement of a hardware store, Mickey Rooney and Buddy Hackett’s frantic attempts to land an out-of-control prop plane with no flying experience (cue the billboard they fly through and Paul Ford who goes plummeting head-over-heels from the tower as they buzz past), and the series of pratfalls Ethel Merman (as the champion shrewish mother-in-law of all time) and her body double take throughout the film always to howlingly funny effect. Along the way, the core group of eight adds additional antagonists (Phil Silvers, Terry-Thomas, Dick Shawn, Peter Falk, Eddie “Rochester” Anderson), and there are a few surprise guest stars not credited in the main titles (Jerry Lewis, Jack Benny) though fans of great comics of the time like Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, and Bob Hope may be dismayed they didn’t make it into the movie. Still, the very audacity to create a film with the kind of star cast that this film boasts and to serve all of them with a fair degree of effectiveness is still an unparalleled achievement.


Of the top-billed stars, Jonathan Winters steals the show. His ability to mix physical comedy with a stream of verbal jibes (many sound like ad-libs) sets him apart from everyone else, and his every appearance is a tonic. Ethel Merman’s motormouth and short-fused temper make her the only female of the cast to distinguish herself among the otherwise male-heavy star roster. (Edie Adams and Dorothy Provine really aren’t given much of an opportunity to show what they could do.) Phil Silvers’ rascally charlatan doesn’t begin with the others but comes into his own later in a series of comic mishaps his character readily deserves. Spencer Tracy, of course, performs in his customarily low key fashion making the surprises he has to pull off later really connect with the audience.



Video Quality

4.5/5


For the first time, the film’s Ultra Panavision aspect ratio of 2.76:1 seems to have been brought to home video in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. (I didn’t measure it, but there is plenty of breathing room in the main title credits and in scenes where the actors have been lined up across the screen.  The disc’s liner notes say the aspect ratio is 2.55:1, but that’s clearly wrong.) Sharpness is stunning throughout, and color is deeply and richly saturated, so much so that everyone seems to be sporting a deep tan (just take a glance as those lush reds in Mickey Rooney’s sweater or Dick Shawn’s swim trunks). Details in facial features have rarely been so keenly delivered to a home theater audience. There is some fading along the edges of the main titles, and there is momentary flashing in some grill work in the cars during the side-by-side chase scene that makes for one of the film’s most memorable sequences. Otherwise, the film is impressively clean and artifact free. The film has been divided into 32 chapters.



Audio Quality

3.5/5


The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix features decent fidelity across the front soundstage, but except for some music cues, the rear channels do not get their due. Dialogue has been well recorded and resides mainly in the center channel, but Ernest Gold’s delightfully frisky theme music and background score don’t envelope the listener as a more modern comedy soundtrack would. Still, it’s very typical for its era, and at least the track isn’t weighed down by age-related artifacts such as hiss or crackle.



Special Features

3/5


The bonus features from the last DVD release have been ported over to this Blu-ray release.


“Something a Little Less Serious” is an entertaining 61 ¼-minute look back on the making of the movie by director Stanley Kramer and actors Carl Reiner, Milton Berle, Jonathan Winters, Edie Adams, Sid Caesar, Arnold Stang, Jerry Lewis, Norman Fell, Buddy Hackett, Marvin Kaplan, and Mickey Rooney. Among topics of discussion are the locations used for filming, the special effects and stunt work, and a discussion of Ernest Gold’s music. It’s in 480i.


A motley collection of fifty-six deleted/extended scenes is offered in a montage that runs 59 ½ minutes. There is no organization to the clips and some are repeated in the collection. They’re presented in 480i.


The theatrical trailer runs for 3 ½ minutes in 1080p. The reissue trailer for a 1970 release runs 3 ¼ minutes in 1080p.



In Conclusion

4/5 (not an average)


The last word in farcical extravaganzas, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World comes to Blu-ray in its best-ever home video presentation. No, it’s not the complete roadshow version, and the film’s achievements deserve a more critical appreciation than is offered here. Still, for a low cost upgrade to what has been previously released for home video, this is a no-brainer. Highly recommended!




Matt Hough

Charlotte, NC



#2 of 51 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted July 14 2011 - 11:52 AM

Matt,


First and foremost, I thank you for your review.  As usual,

you have done your subject matter great justice.


As for MGM....


Sorely disappointed that after all these years the fans have

been clamoring for a proper roadshow restoration to be done,

it's still impossible to convince this studio to do it.


Even this past month, in an attempt to personally reach out

to MGM to read the feedback from fans of this forum and

consider the possibility of investing in a restoration, it seems

the studio has ceased responding.


Meanwhile, it's no secret that if the library had ended up in

the hands of Warner Brothers, this film would have received

a priority Roadshow restoration. 

I don't understand how for the past 10 years we have been

fighting to get this film properly restored and to date, there has

been no interest by MGM to get it done.


For the meantime, I suppose I should be thankful that we got

this Blu-ray release.  And, judging by the many favorable reviews

I have read, the studio did a very good job with the transfer.


I feel rotten having to speak out like this -- espcecially since

there are good people who work over there at MGM. However,

one has to wonder how much they care about their films when

they continue ignoring the cries of fans to properly restore a

film like this. Perhaps they should just license it to a studio that

is willing to invest the money into doing it right.   




 

Ronald J Epstein
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#3 of 51 OFFLINE   Felix Martinez

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Posted July 14 2011 - 12:22 PM

The other issue is just finding the disc.  Ordering from Wal-mart online is the way to go.  Nonetheless, due to travels for work, I fortunately have been able to "drop by" Wal-marts throughout the entire South Florida area without having to go out of my way.  I finally found one copy each of IAMMMMW and When Harry Met Sally in a rather nice Super Store in Naples, FL.  So now there are NO copies in South Florida right now.  Ridiculous.


Looking forward to seeing it this weekend.



#4 of 51 OFFLINE   RCinOttawa

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Posted July 14 2011 - 12:27 PM

Does the dialogue really ''reside mainly in the center channel"? On the LaserDisc it was very directional on my sound system. I never listened to the dvd mix. I have noticed that certain classics on BD seem to have improperly balanced sound levels, where the centre channel somewhat drowns out the directional dialogue, as well as the 'wideness' of the stereo music. Turning down the volume of my centre channel a little bit for these films balances things out. Yes, it is quite sad that MGM has no interest in this movie, treating it as if it were some obscure long-forgotten film that lasted a couple of weeks in theatres. I get blown away when I see all that has been written about it on the internet for years now; why can't MGM? Anybody can see there is a big fan base out there. Lets hope this bluray sells like MAD, it might help open MGM's eyes.

#5 of 51 OFFLINE   Steve...O

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Posted July 14 2011 - 01:26 PM

Great review for a great BD - thanks, Matt.


To Ron's and RC's point, hopefully the strong sales of this disc (if online antedoctal evidence is any indication) will convince MGM to proceed with restorating this to it's most complete state.


In any event, $10 for this disc makes it easily the bargain of the year.  Even 2 1/2 hours into it I was still amazed at how incredible the PQ was on this.  It can't be decribed in words, it has to be seen to fully appreciate it.


The documentary is highly entertaining also although a bit bittersweet considering how many of the participants are no longer with us and those who are, are in much poorer health.


Please help UCLA restore the Laurel & Hardy films: https://www.cinema.u...aurel-and-hardy

#6 of 51 OFFLINE   Scott Calvert

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Posted July 14 2011 - 02:49 PM

Yes, it is quite sad that MGM has no interest in this movie, treating it as if it were some obscure long-forgotten film that lasted a couple of weeks in theatres. I get blown away when I see all that has been written about it on the internet for years now; why can't MGM? Anybody can see there is a big fan base out there.

They cared enough to have Fotokem scan it at 8K. That's not inexpensive. And face it, this isn't going to be a huge seller. It has a following of vocal fans but it's not exactly a beloved household classic. I'm floored they had it scanned at 8k from 65mm elements....I only wish all large format films were treated as well.

#7 of 51 OFFLINE   GMpasqua

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Posted July 15 2011 - 09:13 AM

of the 5 titles release a Walmart only Mad AMd World sold out week 1 (the others surprisingly did not sell at all) I did buy A Fish Called Wanda that day (I had already ordered Mad World, but asked if they had any copies and I was told they were the first to go - so....Mad World sold very well at my Walmart location)



#8 of 51 OFFLINE   ReggieW

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Posted July 15 2011 - 09:57 AM

of the 5 titles release a Walmart only Mad AMd World sold out week 1 (the others surprisingly did not sell at all) I did buy A Fish Called Wanda that day (I had already ordered Mad World, but asked if they had any copies and I was told they were the first to go - so....Mad World sold very well at my Walmart location)

Sadly, I've heard that certain individuals have been buying up their local Wal-mart stock and slapping them on Ebay for inflated prices ($19.95-$39.95). This is now making this title hard to find. Perhaps Wal-mart should start implementing a limit on their exclusive items to thwart this?
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#9 of 51 OFFLINE   OliverK

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Posted July 15 2011 - 10:13 AM

They cared enough to have Fotokem scan it at 8K. That's not inexpensive. And face it, this isn't going to be a huge seller. It has a following of vocal fans but it's not exactly a beloved household classic. I'm floored they had it scanned at 8k from 65mm elements....I only wish all large format films were treated as well.

I doubt that an 8k scan was performed for IAMMMMW. The Blu-Ray we see could also be the result of a 4k scan output to HD resolution which would be the cheapest way to get a high quality result fit for a Blu-Ray release and HDTV airings.

#10 of 51 OFFLINE   Scott Calvert

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Posted July 15 2011 - 11:01 AM

I doubt that an 8k scan was performed for IAMMMMW. The Blu-Ray we see could also be the result of a 4k scan output to HD resolution which would be the cheapest way to get a high quality result fit for a Blu-Ray release and HDTV airings.

From page 3 of Robert Harris' A Few Words thread, posted by Douglas R: "Apparently this was scanned from 65mm by Fotokem Industries Inc. : "At FotoKem we QC 65mm IP’s on a 50˝ plasma monitor within our 65mm HD telecine suite to insure their photographic integrity. Digitizing 65mm classics at FotoKem occurs on one of our two matched IMAGICA XE 65mm scanners, nicknamed ‘Big Foot’ and ‘Yeti’ due to their sizable footprint. Armed with 11K sensors, they are the world’s only film scanners able to sample 65mm negative at 8K resolution ‘perf to perf’, and have been used in this capacity on many 65mm classics, including ‘South Pacific’, ‘It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’ and others. While the sampling of the negative element occurs at 8K (wide) resolution, digital mastering – which moves us from preservation into the realm of restoration – occurs at either 4K, 2K or HD resolution, depending on the deliverable requirements and budgetary realities of each project. 4K digital mastering from an 8K scan is an ideal situation when preserving or restoring a 65mm classic. FotoKem is engaged at the time of this writing on such as restoration for 20th Century Fox on the 65mm classic, ‘The Sound of Music’. The results are as breathtaking as you might imagine; and the digital tools at our disposal are affording us the opportunity to improve long-standing issues such as flicker and gate hairs. We are guided in this work, as in all of our 65mm preservation work, by an over-riding maxim: honor the original, and do no harm. 65mm classics handled by FotoKem include: Dr.Dolittle, West Side Story, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, South Pacific, Khartoum, Can Can, The Sound of Music, Baraka, Oklahoma!, The Bible, Cleopatra and Star!" "

#11 of 51 OFFLINE   OliverK

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Posted July 15 2011 - 07:19 PM

Thank you Scott, that is surprising. From the caps and comparing them to The Sound of Music the picture is more coarse and finest detail in fabric, faces and scenery seems to be diminished, I guess I will have to wait and have a look myself when I get my hands on the Blu-Ray.

#12 of 51 OFFLINE   Paul_Scott

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Posted July 15 2011 - 08:29 PM

I don't see any reason to be disappointed that MGM didn't cough up the Roadshow version. What they have made available, as others have said, and at the price point it is- is simply extraordinary. I rushed out to get this at 2 am the Tuesday it streeted, but didn't have a chance to get a look at it until a few days ago. My one initial complaint is that the shadow detail was crushed and the colors too jacked. I put it in again tonight for a few minutes and played with different gamma and picture settings and was happy to see there is still information sitting there in those inky blacks- and it didn't take a major recalibration to get the picture looking more natural, without sacrificing much of its vibrancy or dynamic punch. This is an all around amazing release. Amazing because it snuck up on most of us out of nowhere, so the wait for it wasn't agonizing. Amazing It came at a retail price point that is half of what other studios regularly charge for bare bones DVD-Rs, and on top of all of that it it looks sensational. Despite the retail price this doesn't look anything like a cheap, quickie release to me- just the opposite. There is just one thing- but I consider it now to be more an issue with my player (a Panasonic BD30)- just like the synch issue seems to be an issue that crops up mostly with the Oppos. Just like The Big Country, I can't access any of the special features. Hitting the menu selection causes the disc to spin down and I have to boot it up from the beginning. Small loss to me at this point as all I really need out of these is the movie. And I'm sure at some point I'll have a newer player and this will no longer be an issue(maybe it's a 1.1 vs 2.0 profile thing?). Just realized two of my absolute favorite, and most satisfying, disc releases this year were $10 MGM Wal-mart exclusives. I still can't believe it.

#13 of 51 OFFLINE   iammmmw

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Posted October 23 2011 - 09:38 AM

You may be interested in the following comparison shots for this movie: https://picasaweb.go...AMMMMWLocations

#14 of 51 OFFLINE   kith86

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Posted October 29 2011 - 12:30 AM

I just want to know if there's any english subtitles on the bonus feature of this release, plan to buy it i think this is nice movie :), anyone can confirm this ??

#15 of 51 ONLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted October 30 2011 - 02:42 PM



Originally Posted by kith86 

I just want to know if there's any english subtitles on the bonus feature of this release, plan to buy it i think this is nice movie Posted Image, anyone can confirm this ??


I finally found some spare time tonight to check on this. None of the bonus features contain any subtitles.




#16 of 51 OFFLINE   nedinme

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Posted October 31 2011 - 06:50 AM

I remember seeing this film when it opened. It was a "Cinerama" release and the one scene where they are all on the ladder and it starts to sway back and forth and they were being thrown off of it stayed with me (I was in high school then). Cinerama is what IMAX is today, although the Cinerama screen was wider by far. I got the Blu-Ray at Walmart about a month ago and haven't yet watched it!!! Will do shortly. NED

#17 of 51 OFFLINE   KODACHROME64

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Posted December 22 2011 - 02:52 AM

[Thank you for your bright and friendly review of that movie. I first saw it in December 1963 in the Brussels CINERAMA theater, so definitely in 70MM. At the time, I subscribed to AMERICAN CINEMATOGRAPHER so I had read about the great photography by ERNEST LASZLO. Unfortunately I'll have to stay with my US DVD for the timebeing, as I don't have room for an extra reader. SIZE=4][/SIZE]

#18 of 51 OFFLINE   Niko Nykanen

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Posted August 09 2012 - 06:19 AM

Been looking around a little bit for this movie on Amazon now. Confused. There are two editions, one blu-ray that is out of print but in stock from other sellers, and then there´s the $11 edition that´s in stock. I´m thinking the first one is the Walmart edition? Or why is there two editions? out of print: http://www.amazon.co...7VMODKUTIUWFY2Q in stock: http://www.amazon.co...ref=pd_cp_mov_0 The one in stock, does that one have the deleted scenes and documentary? Is it safe to order the $11 edition or should I hunt down the other one? Thanks in advance.
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#19 of 51 OFFLINE   ahollis

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Posted August 09 2012 - 08:06 AM

Originally Posted by Niko Nykanen 

Been looking around a little bit for this movie on Amazon now. Confused. There are two editions, one blu-ray that is out of print but in stock from other sellers, and then there´s the $11 edition that´s in stock.
I´m thinking the first one is the Walmart edition? Or why is there two editions?
out of print:
http://www.amazon.co...7VMODKUTIUWFY2Q
in stock:
http://www.amazon.co...ref=pd_cp_mov_0
The one in stock, does that one have the deleted scenes and documentary? Is it safe to order the $11 edition or should I hunt down the other one?
Thanks in advance.

Should be the same extras on both versions.  Go with the $11,00.  MGM/FOX released the title first to Walmart as an exclusive and then everywhere about six months later and it was the same transfer with the same extras.

"Get a director and a writer and leave them alone. That`s how the best pictures get made" - William "Wild Bill" Wellman


#20 of 51 OFFLINE   Niko Nykanen

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Posted August 09 2012 - 08:23 AM

Ok, so it was a timed exclusive to Walmart then. Thank you! :)
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