When one hears the phrase, “they don’t make ‘em like that anymore”, it typically refers to something obsolete such as 8-track tape decks. Used in cinematic references, it may really mean, “They can’t make ‘em like that anymore”, which is certainly descriptive of Mel Brooks’ politically incorrect Blazing Saddles, or in this specific instance, 1963’s It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
Films like this can’t be made anymore because of the bloated Hollywood egos and equally bloated salaries that would be involved. It has an enormous cast and practically everyone who was then or had once been involved in comedy makes at least a cameo appearance. Those few comedians who do not appear simply could not do so because of conflicting contractual obligations. From the IMDb:
The story begins after an automobile speeding through traffic runs off-road and crashes in a ravine in the California hills. Driver Smiler Grogan, now dying, cryptically tells the assembled travelers who have come to his rescue that he’s buried $350,000 in stolen loot under the ‘Big W’ in a nearby town, this just before literally kicking the bucket. All of the motorists then set out in a race to find the hidden fortune, and others join in along the way. Hilarity ensues.
The cast is one-of-a-kind, just another reason why “They can’t make ‘em like that anymore”, and involves numerous points of interest. Sadly, Ernie Kovacs (he would have been great) was to have been cast in the part that went to Sid Caesar, due to his having been killed in an automobile accident just prior to the start of filming. This is the first screen appearance of Jonathan Winters, who almost steals the show and would have but for Ethel Merman, who did steal it. An obviously ailing Spencer Tracy appears in one of his last film roles as a larcenous police captain. Phil Silvers reprises his role of Sgt. Bilko in civilian clothes. And so on and so forth.
And the many hilarious scenes – who could ever forget Jonathan Winters destroying the gas station? Or Buddy Hackett and Mickey Rooney flying a plane through a road sign? Or the many chase scenes, both in car and on foot? Or the climax on a crumbling fire escape, when, one by one, the male cast is flung off a ladder to their assorted fates? And the ending – it is absolutely perfect.
One cannot access the film directly through YouTube but may do so indirectly. The film is available through Amazon Prime and that is where I revisited it. Spoiler Alert – political incorrectness ahead. Fortunately, Fandango has done a good job of encapsulating the film in just 10 clips, all of which are linked below. If you can’t view them all, at least see the last two. I have also embedded a few of the best of the film videos available on YouTube.
If you haven’t seen the film, it is a must-see, even 56 years later. If you have seen it, watch it again to see how much you missed the first time or two.