Mad Mad Mad Mad World

Watch Jonathan Winters destroy a gas station:


I love that movie. I just love that movie. I love it even when it’s being terrible (Dick Shawn – why God why?). I love it when it’s being wonderful – Paul Ford talking down the plane; Sid Caesar escaping from the hardware store; Jimmy Durante kicking the bucket: etc. If you haven’t seen it in Cinerama I feel for you: as the bishop said to the actress. I saw it in London years ago (yes they do have movies and no they’re not lit by gas flares) with the hubby who was then only the intended. He also loves the movie, especially how Merman only acts on her lines going dead when anyone else talks. It’s a great big shambling mess of a movie that’s as improbable in its way as A Space Odyssey coming from a major studio. It’s bliss and silly and boring and tiresome and the resolution really outstays its welcome but… it’s got Mr Winters, and Terry-Thomas, and Sid Caesar, and the Merm, and Jimmy D, and Buddy Hackett, and Buster Keaton – sad sad sad, athletes retire and are revered, performers just can’t get a job – and Phil Silvers!!! oh sweet mother of God, Mr. Silvers! Plus a dynamite score and the whole shebang (movie slang) directed most improbably by Stanley Kramer who never, to my mind, ever exhibited a sense of humor.

One of my childhood favorites, I remember laughing all the way through it at a Saturday matinee (probably for 25 cents) when I was 8. It wasn’t quite as funny the next time I saw it 35 years later, but it still held up much better than most comedies of that period.

I think that for much of the gas station scene it was actually a stunt double we see rather than Jonathan; but it is his initial setup (& voice-over), not to mention Arnold Stang & Marvin Kaplan as Ray & Irwin, rather than the slapstick destruction that makes the scene work.

The only other contemporary comedy that still makes me laugh that much is Roger Corman’s The Raven (Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, Jack Nicholson).

Why do I find those two films still funny while most of the rest seem so lame? Quothe the raven:

“How the hell should I know.”

@Benedick: Have I told you how much I’ve missed your quivering thighs? Your springy, devil-may-care ear hair? That node on your whosits! The flare of your nares! The gloonch of your spelagixcranoinx!

Don’t you get it man? I miss the sex.

@Benedick: If you haven’t seen it in Cinerama

I just spent an hour lost in the weeds of “open matte” filming, where a movie is shot full-frame (4×3, more or less), but projected widescreen.

This because Netflix streams Miller’s Crossing 4×3, which just looks wrong, and I had to chase it down. It was indeed filmed “protected” — full frame, no booms showing in the normally masked areas — perhaps with an marketing eye to early 90s home video. But theatrically it was shown 16×9 (more or less), and composed as such. Zoom yer HD, you’ll get it about right.

So: Cinerama. Some movies were shot Cinerama (substitute any 70mm-ish format at will), but of course they weren’t projected Cinerama in all theaters. You live outside metro, you’re getting 35mm, with its own cropping from the “original”. Which I put in quotes, because even the original doesn’t project the entire filmed image, because you needed to put the audio tracks somewhere.

Anyway. Balls. Cats.

@Benedick: Hey, I knew that I couldn’t understand a word from Trainspotting, but I recently learned that Scots is considered its own language. Learning something new everyday.

Re: Mad Mad Mad Mad World

I was reading a rather dry article about how the Fed’s quantitative easing policies are simultaneously re-inflating both the stock market and housing bubbles, when one of the comments made me LOL :

“When the Fed stops, the bankers will fall, and down will come Wall Street, hedge funds and all.”

Stealin’ it ; )

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