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Characters / It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

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Capt. T. G. Culpeper

Portrayed by: Spencer Tracy

  • Anti-Villain: His straight-edge efforts seemingly not paying off drives him to steal the briefcase of money for himself instead.
  • Big Bad: In the sense that he'll intercept the winner. Played straight in the end.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: His wife and daughter.
  • Cool Old Guy: Affable enough to blend in with the main characters without anyone pressing him on his presence until it's too late.
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  • Face–Heel Turn
  • Fallen Hero: At the end.
  • Henpecked Husband: He is often being belittled by his wife on the phone. This leads to his Face Heel Turn.
  • Hero Antagonist: Only played straight in the first and second acts, subverted in the last act.
  • Lawman Gone Bad: Becomes this in the climax.
  • Nice Hat
  • Only Sane Man: Subverted
  • Retirony: Of sorts. While he doesn't die, he's certainly not going to enjoy his retired life.
  • Sanity Slippage: The stress of his Big, Screwed-Up Family is what led to this Face–Heel Turn, to a point he starts to show signs of a mental breakdown by telling his colleagues about having an ice cream sundae.
  • Tempting Fate: All of his comments on how everything will go right for him today. By the end of the day, he loses his job, pension, and family.
  • Tragic Villain: Political forces screw him out of a proper pension, so he decides to steal the money for himself, causing him to lose everything. The audience gets to hear Al call him on the radio to tell him his efforts to get his pension raised have worked, and he will get everything he asked for. Culpepper never hears this, as he was away from his car stealing the money already.
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  • Walking Spoiler: His character can't be discussed fully without giving away a big twist in the ending.

Melville Crump

Portrayed by: Sid Caesar

  • Covered in Gunge: He winds up getting covered with paint while in the hardware store.
  • Straight Man: Melville acted this way when trying to divvy up the money between himself and the others, before negotiations broke down.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Melville Crump, destroyer of a hardware store basement and the adjoining part of a laundromat.


Monica Crump

Portrayed by: Edie Adams

  • Clothing Damage: She rips her dress while boarding (and then unboarding) the rickety biplane.
  • Covered in Gunge: Not as much as her husband, but...
  • Ms. Fanservice
  • Only Sane Woman: Even after the mishaps with the biplane and being trapped in the hardware store, she still manages to keep her composure.
  • Screaming Woman: Whenever Melville was in danger.
  • Show Some Leg: Not in the romantic sense, but part of her dress gets ripped, showing some of her leg.

J. Russell Finch

Portrayed by: Milton Berle

  • Nice Hat: He wears a naval cap representing his edible seaweed company, even when on vacation.
  • Rage Breaking Point: When his mother-in-law tests his limits by taking Col. Hawthorne's keys and dropping them between her breasts, he and the Col. shake her down to get them back.
  • Would Hit a Woman: Downplayed with Russell, who thinks Mrs. Marcus is being unreasonable when she stuffs the keys down her blouse, until he loses his cool and starts assaulting her, telling Emmeline afterwards that he didn't really want to do it, because he believed his mother-in-law was acting unreasonably.

Emmeline Marcus-Finch

Portrayed by: Dorothy Provine

  • Butt-Monkey: Any time she tries to speak up, expect her to be ignored or told to shut up.
  • Hair Decoration: Her yellow hair clip matches her scarf.
  • Only Sane Woman: Keep in mind that she was the only one who wanted absolutely nothing to do with the whole search. However, her notion of needing a whole fortune to enter a convent probably establishes her as just a more sympathetic kind of Cloudcuckoolander.

Mrs. Marcus

Portrayed by: Ethel Merman

  • The Chessmaster: When she, Emmeline and Russell are joined by Hawthorne, she stuffs the keys in her dress. Later on, she blackmails Lennie into taking her and Emmeline along for a ride, and Sylvester arrives on the scene when she calls him and he thinks it's an emergency.
  • Control Freak: Always tells Russell what to do and explains why he's wrong about everything.
  • Evil Matriarch: A classic stereotypical in-law.
  • Handbag of Hurt: Mrs. Marcus has a habit of hitting other people with her purse when really angry. The following characters she's hit with her purse are: Melville Crump, J. Russell Finch, Col. Hawthorne, Otto Meyer, and a random pedestrian.
  • Hate Sink: She's perpetually annoying and the cause of a few problems.
  • Jerkass: Oscillates between calling people spineless and demanding that they do as she says.
    • Jerkass Has a Point: She's the one that suggests simply splitting the $350,000, but if anybody listened to her, we wouldn't have had a movie.
      • Also no one could agree on a fair way to split the money. Some of them were there alone, while others were with a spouse or friend. So if it was per person, the Finches would get more, while if it was per car, the Finches would get less.
  • Karma Houdini: A lot of viewers think her behavior warrants more than a final scene pratfall, unless you count the money being lost and split up amongst the crowd as proper comeuppance.
  • Large Ham: Shouts loudly and dramatically.
  • Motor Mouth: She NEVER shuts up.
  • My Beloved Smother-In-Law
    Mrs. Marcus: "Oh, Emmeline, shut up!"
    Russell: "Mother..."
    Mrs. Marcus: "And you too!"
  • Nice Hat
  • Perpetual Frowner: Not once in the entire movie does she smile.
  • Slapstick Knows No Gender: She's the victim of a bunch of pratfalls and humiliation.
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: When Sylvester tells her he's coming for her and hangs up on her, she repeats to the others what he said in a neutral voice, then goes on a loud tirade about how he doesn't listen. The rest of the time, she's just shouting, no "suddenly" about it.

Lennie Pike

Portrayed by: Jonathan Winters

  • Berserk Button: Never, ever make Pike mad, or else he will threaten to kill you.
  • The Big Guy: He can take and dish out an awful lot of punishment.
  • Butt-Monkey: Has a tough time getting to the big W.
  • Dumb Muscle: Is better at fighting his way out of a situation than talking out of one.
  • Eureka Moment: When they're in the park, Lennie finally notices the Big "W" is the crossed palm trees.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Pike becomes really angry when he gets tricked by Meyer.
  • Hard Head: Breaking bottles over his head only makes him angry.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Starts out this way, as he's horrified at the idea of tax cheating. Later on, not so much.
  • Nice Hat
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Most notably during the scene where everyone is scrambling back into the taxis after finding out that Culpepper double-crossed them.
  • Tranquil Fury: After getting hit in the head by two bottles, he says "if that's the way you want it, that's the way you're going to get it." with a tone of only mild annoyance, then proceeds to demolish the two attackers and their whole store.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Takes down an entire gas station with his bare hands.

Dingy Bell

Portrayed by: Mickey Rooney

  • Cool Shades: He wears these at the beginning of the film

Benjy Benjamin

Portrayed by: Buddy Hackett

Otto Meyer

Portrayed by: Phil Silvers

  • Con Man
  • Consummate Liar: Deceives Pike, and later the gas station attendants, to keep Pike away from the prize, and tries to trick everyone into giving him an extra share.
  • Jerkass: Wants all the money to himself, and berates any confused strangers who slow him down.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Suffered after tricking Lennie, by having his car wrecked by Lennie, having a car falling into the river and getting thrown in a hole by Sylvester and Lennie when trying to get himself an extra share of the money after digging it up.
  • Karma Houdini: Lennie never does get to pay him back for double-crossing him early on; he does attempt to mend fences by suggesting Lennie get an extra share, only to try and con them into dividing the loot 15 ways among the 14 of them, with Lennie calling him out for trying to get an extra cut. Also, see Laser-Guided Karma above.
  • Nice Hat
  • Rage Against the Heavens: He does this before he drives his car into the river.
  • The Rival: To Pike
  • Smug Snake

(Lt.) Col. J. Algernon Hawthorne

Portrayed by: Terry-Thomas

  • Berserk Button: Insulting England in front of him.
  • Brake Angrily: Hawthorne does this when Russell says something bad about England.
  • Brutal Honesty: He gives a lengthy speech to Russell in regards to American men becoming henpecked milquetoasts who go out of their ways to pamper and please women.
  • Butt-Monkey
  • Deadpan Snarker: His noteworthy moment is when he urges Russell to "press on with all possible dispatch":
    Hawthorne: I earnestly recommend we forget your good ladies, and press on with all possible dispatch.
    Russell [sarcastically]: All right, we'll press on with all possible dispatch.
    Hawthorne: And I don't really think that personal rancor is going to help the situation.
  • Extreme Doormat: He takes a lot of verbal abuse from other characters before he finally loses his temper.
  • Funny Foreigner
  • Genre Blind: He's utterly confused at the idea that Mrs. Marcus might renege on her deal with him if she gets to the money first.
  • Nice Hat
  • The Rival: To Russell, at first.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Has shades of this with Russell.

Sylvester Marcus

Portrayed by: Dick Shawn

The Cabbies


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