During the last 6 months or so I have become a regular visitor to our theater. While I have seen some recent ones, some memorable, some forgettable (using the Internet Lexicon YMMV) – the movies I mainly like to see are the ones that have endured over time.
Part of this appreciation came from 2 friends, one of whom is an accomplished Hollywood Screenwriter, who have both given me an appreciation for classic Hollywood.
Never thought I could find pleasure in a movie made in 1928, at the end of the silent movies, but if you can find it view Show People , staring Marion Davies.
Marion stars as a poor naïve girl from Georgia, who comes out to Hollywood seeking fame and fortune. She becomes a star and can laugh at herself in how it changed her. The audience laughs right along with her almost 90 years later.
Truths are timeless.
A few weeks ago I attended a screening of The Maltese Falcon, seeing it on the big screen just as audiences saw it 75 years ago.
Believe me there is a difference between seeing these on the small screen and DvD and the silver screen as they were intended to be seen.
So this afternoon I saw a movie I have enjoyed since its debut in 1963 – Stanley Kramer’s It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
I was 13 years old at the time, and became smitten with one of the actresses, Edie Adams.
Talk about an all-star cast! It was Jonathan Winter’s film debut, with Sid Caesar, Milton Berle, Buddy Hacket, Mickey Rooney, Spencer Tracy….the list goes on and on. Plus with the legendary Talmanz aviation, it had some of the most spectacular aviation stunts in movie history. Take a look at this, and this, and this, just for starters.
What I have found interesting about the movie is not only the wonderful screenplay – there was so much physical comedy that the main actors were given 2 scripts – one of dialogue and one of the physical stunts – There is the wonderful musical score by Ernest Gold and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. I can remember the music from this production being on the radio for some years after its introduction.
Equally interesting is the background of the movie. Director Stanley Kramer was not known for making comedies. He is known more for such masterpieces as Judgment At Nuremburg, or Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner.
But when word got out in the Hollywood trade media, everybody who had made any kind of a mark in comedy wanted a part. That is why you will see so many cameo appearances by famous actors.
Ethel Merman is wonderful as the insufferable mother in law.
During the making of the movie, Jonathan Winters, when not on set, would have the other actors in stitches with his impromptu comedy in the trailer.
Edie Adams recently lost her husband while the movie was still being written, comedian Ernie Kovacs, in an auto accident. She agreed to take the part to help pay off his large debt. Watching her in the movie you would have never had an idea she was in grief.
Also according to Edie, she and Sid Caesar were told that they would be taking video of them in the stationary Curtis Jenny. However when the time came for filming, the legendary pilot Frank Talman told them that they were “going for a little ride”.
The fear you see on their faces as that dilapidated Jenny is bouncing up and down on the runway is real!
The movie was not universally accepted by critics.
But all I can say is today – 53 years after its premier, there was still laughter all the way through the nearly 3 hour movie. As far as I know, other than Dick Shawn, all of the actors are gone now. But I’d like to think they are all in their own seating laughing along with us.
And I’m still smitten with Edie.