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 police chief, Captain Culpepper (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, at all costs. You are, however, allowed to confuse it with its '00s Remake (of sorts), Rat Race.
This film provides examples of:
Agony of the Feet: This happened during the scene where Russell and Col. Hawthorne fought each other. Both fell victim to this trope.
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 Shout-Out to the Slogan for Western Airlines, which Backus voiced in many TV ads of the time.
All-Star Cast: Everyone from Jerry Lewis to the Three Stooges is in this movie.
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.
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.
Downer Ending / Shaggy Dog Story: Most of the main characters end up in traction and they 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.
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!"
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 Ultra Panavision cinematography.
Impact Silhouette: Lennie Pike leaves a man shaped hole in the gas station 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.
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.
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.
Of course, sensible as it is, it's also self-serving as her vehicle had the most people in it.
Kick the Son of a Bitch: Russell and Hawthorne grabbing Mrs. Marcus upside down and shaking her to get Hawthorne's keys back.
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.
Oh Crap: Dingy and Benjy both get one just before flying the plane through a Coca-Cola billboard.
Only Sane Woman: Emmeline Marcus-Finch. Which makes her little talk with Capt. Culpepper surprisingly sad:
(intercut with the rest of the cast arguing) Emmeline: Who are you? Are you with the others, the ones that are looking? Culpepper: 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. Culpepper: 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. Culpepper: 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.
Reality Ensues: After their death-defying stunt on the fire ladder, all the men end up in traction, lucky to be alive.
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.
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.
Those Two Guys: Dingy Bell and Benjy Benjamin. Also, Ray and Irwin, the two nerdy-looking gas station attendants who inadvertently invoked the wrath of Lennie. And at the end, the two cabbie drivers.
Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer gives away that the money is lost to the crowd watching them fight over it.
Subversion: They get the keys anyway by shaking her upside down until they fall out. Bravo, Ethel Merman.
The Voice: Culpepper's wife, voiced by Selma Diamond (of later Night Court fame). His daughter Billie Sue is one of these as well.
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.