Film / It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
No, actually, we mean it — it's mad.

"It's buried under a big W..."

An epic madcap comedy, directed by Stanley Kramer and starring several of the major comedians of its day (1963), with an additional host appearing in cameos: Buster Keaton, Jerry Lewis, The Three Stooges, Jack Benny, Don Knotts, Stan Freberg...

When aging criminal "Smiler" Grogan (Jimmy Durante) sails his car off a cliff in the Mojave Desert, he tells the various strangers who gather to help him where to find $350,000 in cashnote , hidden loot from an old robbery. He then kicks the bucket—literally. After a spirited "negotiation" session as to the allocation of said money breaks down, the witnesses decide to race each other to Santa Rosita State Park, where the loot is "buried under a big 'W'"... each hoping to find it and keep it all for him/herself.

The initial racers are:

They are eventually joined in their treasure hunt by an English officer (Terry-Thomas), a Con Man (Phil Silvers), and Russell's hair-triggered brother-in-law Sylvester (Dick Shawn).

Before long, all these characters are in deep trouble. The Crumps get locked in a hardware-store basement, and set it on fire trying to escape. Benjy and Dingy have to fly a plane after its inebriated pilot (Jim Backus) passes out. The van driver demolishes a gas station after the conman tricks two attendants into attempting to tie him up. The conman drives into a river. Mrs. Marcus starts multiple fights.

Meanwhile, the police are monitoring all this, and betting on who will win the race. The Santa Rosita police chief, Captain Culpeper (Spencer Tracy), intends to confiscate the stolen money after it's found and presumably return it to its rightful owners, but after being buried under an ever-increasing mountain of bad news from his homelife and regarding his police pension (or lack thereof), he devises A Simple Plan to get the dough for himself and skip on down to Mexico for his "retirement".

Not to be confused with MadWorld by any means. You are, however, allowed to confuse it with its '00s Remake (of sorts), Rat Race.

This film provides examples of:

  • Agony of the Feet: Russell Finch and Col. Hawthorne both fall victim to this while fighting each other during the pre-intermission montage.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Under incredible stress, Culpeper makes an impulsive decision to take the money himself and flee to Mexico. He didn't do it out of evil or greed, just as a foolish attempt to escape from the disaster his life was becoming. While in the ICU, he makes it clear he understands that he's completely ruined.
    Culpepper: (to everyone else in the ICU) My wife is divorcing me, my mother-in-law is suing me for damages, my daughter is applying to the courts to have her name changed, my pension has been revoked, and the only reason that you ten idiots will very likely get off lightly, is because the judge will have me up there to throw the book at!
  • The Alcoholic: Jim Backus as Tyler Fitzgerald, who we first meet suffering from a raging case of Hangover Sensitivity.
    Tyler Fitzgerald: (flying the plane!) You know what I need? I need a drink. There's some ice and stuff back there. Why don't you make us all some Old Fashioneds?
    Dingy Bell: Old Fashioneds?! Do you think you oughta drink while you're flying?
    Tyler Fitzgerald: Well stop kidding, will ya, and make us some drinks! You just press the button back there marked "booze". (laughs) It's the only way to fly!note 
  • The Alleged Plane: Which was built in 1916. Even the pilots feel necessary to give a sign of the cross before taking off...
  • Alliterative Family: Melville and Monica Crump.
  • Alliterative Name: Benjy Benjamin.
  • Amusing Injuries: A few of them.
    • Russell and Hawthorne's Punch Parry. Before that, Russell taking a swing at Hawthorne and putting his hand through the jeep's window.
    • Melville accidentally destroying the hardware store basement's staircase while he's standing on it.
  • Animated Credits Opening: Designed by Saul Bass, and animated by a team including Bill Melendez (of later Peanuts specials fame). Watch in slow-motion and you'll see several of the animators' names as the credits fall into place.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: The Crumps are locked in the hardware store basement and the husband has been trying, ahem, creative ways to escape. When he sets upon a faulty burglar alarm in a rage:
    Monica: Melville. Melville! (finally getting his attention) Even if you do get the bell the ring and somebody comes, what about the damage?
  • Artistic Title: The Animated Credits Opening has a cartoon globe being transmogrified into a hen's egg, a shell game, a spinning top, paper dolls, a yo-yo, etc.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: As the men are gathered around Smiler (who'd just fallen off the cliff in his car, speeding immensely) in the beginning, Melville asks him if he thinks he's hurt badly. Smiler manages to say, "Is he kiddin'?"
    • A conversation Culpeper has with Billie Sue has him ask her what she's doing in the bus station, to which she irritably replies, "I'm waiting for the bus!"
    • The officer in the same right before the intermission, who asks Culpeper if something's wrong, while Ginger blames Culpeper repeatedly for wanting to take her to Hawaii, which resulted in Billie Sue wanting to leave home, while Billie Sue is sobbing and screaming in the background. Culpeper slowly turns to look at him with a wordless "What do you think?!" look.
  • Backseat Driver: AKA the Evil Matriarch.
  • Banana Peel: The very end of the movie, which triggers Mrs. Marcus' much-deserved comeuppance.
  • Bandage Mummy: A classic one at the ending: nearly the entire cast is in the hospital, bandaged or cast in plaster and bemoaning their fate. Cue the Banana Peel.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Otto Meyer uses this many times to great effect (poor Don Knotts).
  • Bench Breaker: Lennie breaks the chair that he was tied to after breaking himself free from the pillar and duct tape that the garage attendants tried tying up him to.
  • Berserk Button: Don't sass or threaten Mrs. Marcus around Sylvester.
  • The Big Race: On land and in the air.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": At the end when all the men are hospitalized, Dingy gives one to Melville when the latter goes into mathematics again as he did at the beginning when trying to decide how to split the money.
    • Mrs. Marcus does this to several people, including her own daughter.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Culpeper's wife and daughter, as well as the Finch/Marcuses.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Played for laughs, of course, courtesy of the banana peel reference above.
  • Black Comedy: Hilarity Ensues after an old man dies from injuries in a car crash.
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Subverted:
    Police Chief Aloysius: "Now you know the word for this, your honor: it's called Blackmail."
  • Blatant Lies: The only way to get to Santa Rosita.
  • Blind Driving: Melville tells Monica to Take the Wheel as he attempts to read the map - until it is blown into his face.
  • Brake Angrily: Hawthorne and Pike, followed by a Get Out to Russell Finch and Mrs. Marcus respectively.
  • Brick Joke: Melville's insistence in divvying up the money.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: The object of the search.
  • Butt-Monkey: Everyone in the movie is a victim of this, but Lennie Pike and Melville Crump get the worst of it.
  • Button Mashing: When the plane is coming in for a landing, but they don't know where the brakes are, Dingy just starts pulling every lever in reach.
  • The Cameo: It lives for cameos.
  • The Chew Toy: Ray and Irwin.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: Otto Meyer breaks out with a doozy when Lennie Pike mentions the 350 grand. He's suddenly QUITE interested.
  • Chinese Launderer: The Crumps finally free themselves from the hardware store's basement by dynamiting their way through a wall and right into a Chinese laundry.
  • Claymation: Stop-motion animation was how many of the effects of the men falling off the ladder were filmed.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Sylvester employed this trope when Mrs. Marcus tried calling him. He ended up misinterpreting his mother's pleas to come over and help in the search for the money, believing that she was in trouble and needed his help. Even worse: she called him because he was already close to the place the money was buried, so his coming to her just adds a complication to no purpose.
    • When Ding and Benjy are in the plane, Fitzgerald elects to make his own drinks, so he tells Benjy to take the controls. Benjy asks him, "What if something happens?" Fitzgerald replies, "What could happen to an Old Fashioned?"
    • When Pike hears about a crook's stolen fortune, he's perfectly willing to go and dig it up for himself. But when Melville tries to explain that the money would not need to be declared (and therefore, would be tax-free), a suddenly conscientious Pike exclaims, "That would be like stealing from the government!"
  • Contrived Coincidence: The distribution of vehicles and passengers make it impossible to equally divide the money without someone feeling cheated. This of course kicks off all the trouble.
  • Cool Car: A whole bunch of them.
  • Cool Old Guy: Culpeper until he double-crosses everyone, that is.
  • Cool Plane: Tyler Fitzgerald's.
  • Cool Shades: Dingy wears these for the first 15 minutes of the film.
  • Contrived Coincidence: How convenient for Otto Meyer that there is a garage in the vicinity just as he gets a flat tire. Of course, things go from bad to worse for him when an enraged Lennie Pike catches up with him.
  • Covered in Gunge: The Crumps fall victim to this. Mrs. Crump sustains some Clothing Damage, as well.
  • Crash Course Landing: Benjy and Dingy have to make one after the pilot passes out.
  • The Criterion Collection: As of January 2014, and it includes the most extensively-restored cut of the film yet (see Recut below).
  • Destroy the Product Placement: Benjy and Dingy fly a plane through a Coca-Cola billboard.
  • Didn't Want an Adventure: The migrant couple that gets forced off the road by the treasure hunters, once they've finally reached the bottom of the gorge:
    Husband: "...I said it before, and I'll say it again: I didn't want to move to California."
  • Disappeared Dad: Emmeline and Sylvester's father isn't around any more, probably because of a divorce, as the Like Father, Like Son example would imply. Besides, who would WANT to stay married to someone like Mrs Marcus?
  • Dope Slap: Dingy did this to Benjy a few times.
  • Downer Ending / "Shaggy Dog" Story: Most of the main characters end up in traction, face criminal charges, and don't get any of the money, though they do get an Everybody Laughs Ending out of it. The police department, who have been working on the case for 15 years, salvage little if any money, the bulk of it being rained down onto a large crowd of onlookers. The Captain misses news of his tripled pension, and loses everything, but at least he gets a laugh too.
  • Driver Faces Passenger: Hawthorne when describing his work to Emmeline.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Nonstop. Benjy even remarks to Ding at one points after he dangerously overtakes Pike that Ding is in danger of losing his licence.
  • Dumb Muscle: Lennie Pike. Also Sylvester.
    • And the hitch-hiker Phil Silvers picks up at one point (played by veteran heavy Mike Mazurki) in a deleted scene: "Don't force me to get ROUGH!"
  • Dwindling Party: Inverted. By the end of the film the number of the treasure-seekers has nearly doubled. Lampshaded by Sylvester Marcus, himself one of the newcomers: "Mama, this thing's like a convention!"
  • Epic Movie: The comedy take on the genre — it has a long run time to the point that it has an overture and intermission in the most complete cut, many more characters than usual for a comedy, an A-list cast, elaborate stunt sequences, and 70mm Ultra Panavision cinematography. The script was so dense that it was split in two: one with all the dialogue and one with all the action.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Otto Meyer is initially dismissive of Lennie Pike stopping him when they first meet, but is immediately interested when he hears about the $350,000 buried at Santa Rosita.
  • Eureka Moment: Mrs Marcus has one in Hawthorne's wagon and suddenly shouts, "Sylvester!", which gives her and the others the idea to try and contact Sylvester because of his proximity to Santa Rosita. Unfortunately for them, it backfires badly when Mrs Marcus finally gets through to Sylvester.
  • Everybody Laughs Ending: Played straight, when the guys see Mrs. Marcus receive her much-deserved comeuppance, courtesy of a Banana Peel. Even Sylvester.
  • Evil Matriarch: You know who it is.
  • Exploding Moving Van: Justified in that it's involved in a wild high-speed chase and a collision before Pike opens it up.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Everything happens over the course of a single day.
  • Eye Poke: Russell does this to Hawthorne during a fight.
  • Fan Disservice: Mrs. Marcus' boobs nearly bobbling out of her dress while she's been shaken upside down.
  • Fat and Skinny: Benjy and Dingy, respectively.
  • Fatal Fireworks: Thankfully not fatal, but ones encountered by Crumps were pretty close...
  • Felony Misdemeanor: After Jerry Lewis' character drives his car over Culpeper's hat, Culpeper immediately starts yelling for someone to get his number.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Sylvester and Emmeline.
  • Foreshadowing: A conversation Culpeper has with Aloysius fairly early on tells us about his pension, which has "not been up one red cent since 1934" and him wanting to take his wife Ginger on a holiday, a decision that will backfire badly later, and give him a reason as to why he will later try and steal the $350,000 for himself.
    • After the intermission, when it's revealed at what state the other characters are in, Culpeper is seen staring at the Mexican border on the wall map, with Mexican music playing softly on the soundtrack. As revealed later, he intends to steal the money for himself and escape to Mexico with it.
  • Free Wheel: After an Offscreen Crash in a tunnel.
  • Funny Foreigner: Terry-Thomas as J. Algernon Hawthorne.
  • Gambit Roulette: The banana peel.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: When Mrs. Marcus asks Hawthorne where she should put one of his cacti, Russell just scoffs and says "Oh boy..."
    • The scene of Sylvester and the stonefaced go-go dancer is filled with this, as it's implied that they have been up all night having sex and possibly doing drugs, based on how frenetic they are. And an accidental Getting Crap Past the Radar moment has Sylvester leaning backwards and revealing that he isn't wearing underwear and you can see little Sylvester...
  • Grey and Gray Morality: Everybody is out for themselves in this race for the treasure — even Culpeper. There are no "white" characters in the film (except possibly Aloysius), but there are hardly any "black" ones either - as Culpeper properly lampshades, they are not vile people after all. Of course, this applies to himself as well.
  • Gold Fever: Everybody who finds out about the money becomes positively obsessed with getting their hands on it and screwing all the other racers — even Culpeper.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Sylvester Marcus, big time. Definitely inherited it from Mrs. Marcus, who has a ...
  • Handbag of Hurt: And is not afraid to use it!
    • Apparently in real life, too. After the first take, Milton Berle yelled, "Cut!" and was a little woozy and rubbing his head in pain. When he asked Ethel Merman what she had inside the bag, she opened it up to show it was full of heavy costume jewelry!
  • "Hell, Yes!" Moment: Ding and Benjy have one when they finally manage to land Fitzgerald's plane. Benjy shouts "Hooray!", and Ding shouts "We've landed!" when the plane comes to a stop.
  • Heroes Gone Fishing:
    • Before Melville and Monica Crump get in on the race to get the money, they were on their way to a second honeymoon.
    • Also Russell, Emmeline and Mrs. Marcus, as before they were on their way to Lake Mead before they too get in on the race for the money.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Culpeper, at the halfway point. The domestic strife, the denial of pension increase, and the whole Grogan case not closing (and getting exponentially out of hand) just becomes too much for him.
  • Hilarity Ensues: Sums up about 90% of this movie.
    • Especially in the climax, where the treasure hunters are all subjected to cartoon slapstick comeuppance that would absolutely kill them in real life.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The big W.
  • Hot Pursuit: Inverted. The police car is chased.
  • Huddle Shot: By the big W.
  • Idiot Ball: It gets passed around but Melville Clump sure has a tight grip on it when he's locked in the Hardware Store basement.
  • Impact Silhouette: Lennie Pike leaves a man shaped hole in the garage wall during his rampage.
  • Improbable Piloting Skills: The great stunt pilot Frank Tallman actully flew a Beech 18 through a billboard for this film. He was going nearly 200 MPH and had less than one foot of clearance on either side. The plane was nearly wrecked by the stunt, too. The billboard was supposed to be balsa wood and paper, tough fabric was substituted by accident. The leading edge of the wings and windshields were torn up. Fortunately they had built the billboard right at the end of a runway and he could immediately land.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Exaggerated. Billie Sue is not only sobbing, but screaming hysterically over the phone in Culpeper's office in the scene preceding the intermission.
  • Intermission: Consists of police calls that gave updates which were played in the lobby and and "Entr'Acte" music.
  • Ironic Echo: "You heard him, mother. Stay here!"
  • Jerkass: Otto Meyer, a Consummate Liar, and Mrs. Marcus, who was arguably the most shrewish character in the entire movie. She gets her comeuppance at the end of the movie when she slips on the banana peel in the hospital.
    • To a lesser degree, Sylvester Marcus clearly takes after his mother with his aggressive and confrontational attitude.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: It would have to be Mrs. Marcus who came up with the entirely sensible plan to simply split the money equally between everyone, so that it could get an ad hoc dismissal and we can have a movie. Ironically, it's this very plan they're eventually forced to adopt - but by that time the number of stakeholders doubled.
  • Just Keep Driving: All the way to Santa Rosita.
  • Kick the Dog: The nameless motorist (Jerry Lewis) who deliberately runs over Culpeper's hat after he accidentally throws it into the street, and then laughs about it.
    • Meyer does it to Pike soon after they meet, when he tells Pike he can come with him, but then tricks Pike into moving the bike out of the road, and just as Pike throws it away, Meyer drives off.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Russell and Hawthorne grabbing Mrs. Marcus upside down and shaking her to get Hawthorne's keys back.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: A nonheroic example from an Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist. Mrs. Marcus attacks Russell and Hawthorne after they attacked her for the keys.
  • Leitmotif: Ernest Gold's score features several, most notably for the Jonathan Winters and Phil Silvers characters.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Otto Meyer spends much of his time tricking and lying to various characters, but he receives a little comeuppance when he's directed by a boy into a river, losing his car in the process.
    • This could pretty much apply to most if not all of the main characters in the movie. After hours of scamming, tricking, manipulating, and passing around the Idiot Ball due to greed, They end up losing all of the money entirely. They do get a cozy spot in the hospital, though.
  • Layman's Terms: Colonel Wilberforce's attempt to speak in these was Defied by Benjy of all people:
    Colonel Wilberforce: Now, the stick that you're holding, that is, I assume that... (Beat) Men, are you holding that stick? IS SOMEBODY HOLDING THAT STICK?! OVER!
    Benjy: What stick? Oh, the wheel! I'm holding it.
    Dingy: We're both holding it!
  • Like Father, Like Son: As Mrs Marcus's plan to get Sylvester to get the money badly backfires, she has a moment of Tranquil Fury, then points at Emmeline and shouts, "Exactly like your father! A big, stupid, muscle-headed moron!"
  • Literal Metaphor: Smiler figuratively and literally kicks the bucket.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: It's an ensemble comedy with about a dozen main characters and wall-to-wall cameos, so...
  • Losing a Shoe in the Struggle: Book Ends in the film, early on by Monica and near the end by Emmeline, although both quickly recover them. Also, any time Mrs. Marcus falls over.
  • MacGuffin: The money.
  • MacGuffin Location: The Big W.
  • Male Gaze: As Schwartz walks by, several of her male coworkers openly leer at her shapely buttocks.
  • Missed Him by That Much: After leaving Emmeline and Mrs Marcus, Russell and Hawthorne decide to go back to try and find them. As they pull out of the gas station, the van Pike stole from Ray and Irwin's garage, which has Emmeline and Mrs Marcus in it, pulls into the very space Russell and Hawthorne just vacated.
  • Momma's Boy: Sylvester.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Monica Crump, as well as Sylvester's incredibly straight-faced, bikini-clad, go-go dancing lady friend. And the police secretary, Schwartz.
  • My Beloved Smother: Sylvester's devotion to his mother is borderline Oedipal.
  • Murphy's Bed: During the climactic fire engine ladder sequence, Meyer (Phil Silvers) is catapulted from the ladder through a window onto a Murphy bed, which promptly folds back into the wall.
  • Never My Fault: Even though all the main characters are to blame for everything that went wrong prior to the climax, after all the men end up in traction, all the blame is put on Culpepper alone for his part in taking the money for himself. See What the Hell, Hero? below for details.
  • Nice Hat: Lennie, Benjy, Russell, Mrs. Marcus, Meyer, Col. Hawthorne, the cab drivers, and Culpeper each have one.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Culpeper wants his pension increased so he can go on a holiday to Hawaii with his wife, Ginger. Their daughter, Billie Sue, wanted them to meet her new boyfriend, Oscar, but then told him her parents were going away to Hawaii. This resulted in an argument between the two that saw them break up and caused Billie Sue to angrily decide that not only did she not want to talk to Culpeper again, but she also wanted to leave home. The scene right before the intermission shows Culpeper sitting in shock with Ginger blaming him for the whole thing, with Billie Sue sobbing in the background.
    • If Culpeper didn't try to elope with the money, he would see his pension trebled and himself retired with honor...
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Otto's a Jerkass throughout most of the movie, yet his biggest setback only happens because he let a random guy hitch a ride to deliver medicine to his wife.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: After Meyer leaves him by the side of the road, Pike catches up to him at Ray and Irwin's garage and subjects him to one of these before being knocked out with a Tap on the Head.
  • No MacGuffin, No Winner: The suitcase containing the $350,000 gets accidentally opened and the money falls into the streets below.
  • No Name Given: We don't find out the names of the two cab drivers, the sheriff, or the Crump's pilot.
  • Not So Above It All: Captain Culpeper.
  • Oblivious to Hints: The morons actually walk THROUGH the "Big W" at one point.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Russell Finch is hounded by his harridan mother-in-law Mrs. Marcus and hipster-doofus brother-in-law Sylvester. In all fairness, his own wife, faced with the opportunity, shows a desire to flee them all.
  • Of Corsets Funny: Mrs. Marcus takes a few undignified pratfalls, exposing her foundation garments.
    • This was a Justified Trope in 1963 when it was considered proper for women and girls in First World societies to wear foundation garments, no matter their weight or build.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Meyer when, after having left Pike at the side of the road, Pike catches up to him at Ray and Irwin's garage.
    • Monica when she and Melville are locked in the hardware store basement.
    • Ding gets one when Fitzgerald falls in the plane and is knocked out. "It's making me— Tap on the Head —NERVOUS!"
    • Monica and Melville when the steps in the hardware store catch fire while they're standing on them.
    • Dingy and Benjy both get one just before flying the plane through a Coca-Cola billboard.
    • Mass "Oh, Crap!": They all get one when find the buried money in Santa Rosita Park and Captain Culpeper identifies himself as a police officer after acknowledging Otto Meyer and Lennie Pike by name.
      • The looks on all the faces as they watch all the bills scatter to the wind is absolutely priceless.
  • "Oh, Crap!" Smile: Monica flashes a quick one when she emerges from the explosion from the hardware store.
  • Only Sane Woman: Being the film it is, one can only speak of relative sanity, but Emmeline Marcus-Finch could probably qualify. Which makes her little talk with Capt. Culpeper surprisingly sad:
    (intercut with the rest of the cast arguing)
    Emmeline: Who are you? Are you with the others, the ones that are looking?
    Culpeper: I am, in a way. Aren't you?
    Emmeline: No. I mean, I didn't want anything to do with it right from the start. And you know what? I know where it is. I'm the only one, and I wasn't even looking.
    Culpeper: You know where it is?
    Emmeline: Yes! What should I do? If you help dig it up, you can have half and I'll have half. Is that okay? I mean, is that fair? If I have half of the money... I can go away somewhere where nobody can find me. Not Russell or my mother or Sylvester, anybody. You don't know what that'd mean. And you know what? If I had enough money... I might be able to live in a convent or something.
    Culpeper: I'm sorry, Mrs. Finch. I'm afraid it's too late. I think they've found it.
    Emmeline: It was a nice dream. Lasted almost five minutes.
    • Her notion of needing a whole fortune to enter a convent (this in 1960s America, not in European Middle Ages) probably establishes her as just a more sympathetic kind of Cloudcuckoolander.
  • Only One Name: We don't find out the first names of Culpeper, Mrs. Marcus, Colonel Wilberforce, Matthews or Schwartz. We do see Culpeper's initials on his office door, but we don't find out his first name, even from his wife.
  • Pass the Popcorn: How the police treat The Big Race.
    Sheriff's Deputy, observing the crash between Sylvester, Russell, and Hawthorne: I've never seen anything like this bunch! He ran right into them! He ran them right off the road!
  • Pay Phone: A plot point in the middle of the film.
  • Pet the Dog: Meyer picks up a man so he can deliver medicine to his wife. It ends up costing him dearly when he gets lost and loses his car to a river afterwards.
  • Plane Meets Restaurant: When Ding and Benjy finally manage to land Fitzgerald's plane, this happens when the plane comes to a stop.
  • Pie in the Face: Slyvester Marcus falls from a tree, and slides the length of a long (and loaded) picnic buffet table, ending with a faceplant on a cake.
  • Plot-Sensitive Latch: At the end the suitcase carrying the money pops open, dumping the cash into a crowd of people.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Smiler Grogan's "kicking the bucket" definitely counts.
  • Police Are Useless: Invoked. The people racing for the money commit a veritable cavalcade of crimes over the course of their trip to Santa Rosita, most of them in full view of the cops who let them get away with everything, supposedly for the sake of closing the Smiler Grogan Case, but really because they want to see who wins the race. And Culpeper wants to steal the money.
    • Lampshaded by none other than the future Columbo: "The cops in this town are morons, retarded. I'm dealing with moronic people."
  • Powder Trail: This is one of the many methods by which the Crumps attempt to escape from the hardware-store basement in which they have been accidentally locked. It works, but not before it triggers some nearly Fatal Fireworks...
  • Product Placement: Lots of it for Coca-Cola, including a billboard asking to pause for a Coke, 30 seconds before the intermission. Also the Chrysler Corporation; see Everybody Owns a Ford on the Trivia page.
  • Punch Parry: Russell and Hawthorne do this when they get into a scuffle. In a note of realism, it clearly hurts a lot.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: As Otto prepares to try to drive across a river that's clearly too deep for his car, he looks heavenward and screams "Why? WHY?"
  • Ramp Jump: It begins with Smiler careening along a mountain highway in a '57 Ford and then just...sailing out there. Didn't land well.
  • Ray of Hope Ending: The movie ends with the male characters ending up in the hospital. Captain Culpeper concludes:
    "I'd like to think that sometime, maybe 10 or 20 years from now, there will be something that I could laugh at, anything." Cue a round of deafening laugh from everybody, including Culpeper.
  • Reality Ensues: After their death-defying stunt on the fire ladder, all the men end up in traction, lucky to be alive.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Hawthorne delivers one to the entire country, criticizing American men for allowing women to emasculate them and having a "preoccupation with bosoms". He thinks they're America, the Boorish.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Ernie Kovacs was going to play Melville Crump (alongside his real-life wife Edie Adams), but he was killed in a car accident before filming. Sid Caesar fills in.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Crumps: Melville (red) and Monica (blue, with a dress to match).
    • Also Dingy Bell (very red, and wears a red sweater) and Benjy Benjamin (somewhat blue, and wears a light blue shirt).
  • Recut: The film ran a whopping 210 minutes in its original preview cut. This was trimmed down, in succession, to 192 minutes (for its world premiere at Hollywood's Cinerama Dome), 161 minutes (for its 70mm "roadshow" presentation in select theaters), and 154 minutes (for general theatrical release). The last cut cut is the standard version for home video, although a partially-restored 182-minute "special edition" was made for laserdisc and VHS in the early '90s and occasionally airs on Turner Classic Movies. The Criterion Collection released a DVD/Blu-ray set including the general release cut and a restored, 197-minute cut in January 2014.
  • Rule of Funny: The movie runs on it.
  • Running Gag: Russell Finch gobbles up antacids like candy, especially when he's nervous.
  • Say My Name: Mrs Marcus shouts "Sylvester!" during her Eureka Moment, causing Hawthorne to go off the road briefly, and damaging one of the wagon's wheels.
    • Ding screams "BENJY!" before the plane they're both in flies through a billboard.
    • Russell shouts "Emmeline!" at the end before dropping through part of a building's roof. Sylvester does the same thing seconds later, "shouting "Mama!" before he falls and slides along a table.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Culpeper tries to do this to the country by stealing the money for himself and attempting to flee to Mexico with it.
  • Shake Someone, Objects Fall: The keys out of Mrs. Marcus.
  • Sharp Dressed Man: Culpeper, Melville Crump (although he gets Covered in Gunge in the hardware store), and Meyer.
  • She's Got Legs: Monica Crump, accentuated with the dress rip she gets early in the movie.
  • Short Cuts Make Long Delays: Just ask the Crumps.
  • Side Bet: Culpepper and Chief Aloysius make one early on regarding the direction the chase will take. Later it's implied that the rest of the department have been picking out favorites to win among the treasure hunters.
  • A Simple Plan
  • Slapstick Knows No Gender: Averted during the fire-engine ladder climax, in which only the men are involved. Otherwise the women suffer as much as them.
    • Mrs. Marcus is tossed around and abused more than anyone — but it's not like she doesn't deserve it.
  • Stairwell Chase: Near the end, the citizens are chasing Culpeper up the stairs, and this shot is used.
  • The Stoic: That chick Sylvester dances with is probably as close to live dancing robot as it is humanly possible. Made particularly funny since her deadpan expression is coupled with frenetic '60s go-go dancing.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: Col. Wilberforce is trying to talk Benjy and Dingy through landing a plane. Then he realizes he can't remember where the brakes are:
    Wilberforce: "On second thought men, you won't need the brakes."
  • Tagline: "Everybody who's ever been funny is in it!"
    • In footage included in a "Making Of" video for the DVD, director Stanley Kramer recalled that any time Don Rickles happened to be in the audience of an event he was speaking at live he would heckle Kramer with something to the effect of "Why wasn't I in 'Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World'?" With a tagline like that, its kinda hard to blame him.
  • Tap on the Head: Pike's No-Holds-Barred Beatdown is ended when he's hit on the head with a bottle.
    • Ray and Irwin try to do this to Pike again with two successive bottles, but this time, it doesn't work. It just makes him angrier.
    • Fitzgerald is knocked out with one of these and remains unconscious for the rest of the film.
  • The Taxi: Two of them, driven by Those Two Guys the cabbies.
  • Tempting Fate: Mrs Marcus's line, "Nobody going to get me up in the air." Guess what happens when Pike crashes into the back of their car right after she says that?
    • Fitzgerald telling Ding and Benjy to take the controls of his plane so he can make more drinks for himself. Less than a minute later, the plane wildly moving about causes him to fall and hit his head, knocking him out, and is out cold for the remainder of his screen time.
  • Those Two Guys: Dingy Bell and Benjy Benjamin. Also, Ray and Irwin, the two nerdy-looking garage attendants who inadvertently invoked the wrath of Lennie. And at the end, the two cabbie drivers.
  • Three Stooges Shout-Out: During their Punch Parry, Russell gives Algernon an eyepoke. It may be the only film that features both that and the Trope Namer!
  • Throw a Barrel at It: While the two garage attendants are fighting the truck driver Lennie Pike (Jonathan Winters), on two separate occasions one of the attendants throws an empty barrel at Pike.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Fitzgerald tells Ding and Benjy, who have no flying experience at all, to take the controls of his plane so he can make more drinks for himself. Less than a minute later, he's knocked out and remains so for the rest of the film. What An Idiot.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer gives away that the money is lost to the crowd watching them fight over it.
  • Tranquil Fury: Mrs. Marcus slips into this when things go really bad for her.
  • Treasure Map: Grogan's last words.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: With new lines being added throughout.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Don't make Pike angry. You won't like him when he's angry.
    • He ... kills ... a garage. And when we say "kill", you should read it as he leaves no standing structure left whatsoever.
    • Sylvester nearly goes mad with rage when he believes Russell and Hawthorne may have raped his mother.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Mrs. Marcus wants to make sure the menfolk don't lay their hands on those keys.
    • Subversion: They get the keys anyway by shaking her upside down until they fall out. Bravo, Ethel Merman.
  • Visual Pun: Smiler kicks as bucket as a sign that he's "kicked the bucket."
  • The Voice: Culpeper's wife, voiced by Selma Diamond (of later Night Court fame). His daughter Billie Sue is one of these as well.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: See Comically Missing the Point and Tempting Fate examples above.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In this case, it's rather "What the Hell, Fallen Hero?" when all the men end up in traction after losing the money and Culpepper, who didn't even plan to find the money himself until much later, is alone held responsible for the whole thing.
    Benjy: It's all your fault, all your fault from beginning to end!
    Col. Hawthorne: You know, even for a policeman, your behavior was ruddy outrageous!
    Sylvester: You could have taken a fair share like the rest of us, but no! You just had to go and grab up the whole scene, baby.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Monica when Melville resorts to using dynamite to get out of the hardware store basement, as she hates explosions. The fuse also unexpectedly sets off some fireworks.
  • Wimp Fight: Most of them, particularly the one between Russell and Hawthorne, where they take turns running away from each other, and hurt themselves almost every time they throw an attack.
  • World Gone Mad: Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Downplayed. When an angry Pike catches up with Otto at the gas station and becomes belligerent towards him, the latter attempts to pull this against the former. Otto falsely claims to the gas attendants that he is a psychiatrist, and then he manipulates them into subduing his attacker by claiming that Pike is a mentally deranged patient who has just escaped from an asylum, using that as explanation for his violent behavior. Granted, Pike DOES intend to do bodily harm to Otto, but only because he double crossed him earlier by leaving him stranded on the side of the road.
  • World of Ham: Given it's a World Gone Mad, everyone's exaggerated too.
  • "You!" Exclamation: An angry Pike towards Meyer when he catches up to him at Ray and Irwin's garage after Meyer left him behind in the middle of the road. Cue an Oh, Crap! from Meyer.
  • You, Get Me Coffee: At one point Culpepper's assistant says this to his secretary, Schwartz... leading to a Distracted by the Sexy moment as he and the other cops admire the nubile young woman's egress.
  • You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With: Melville promises to show the others.
  • "You!" Squared: Pike and Mrs. Marcus when she ends up trying to bum a ride from him.