Paul Scrabo, who introduced the film, displays Peter Falk's cabby hat from the film- part of his remarkable Mad World collection. (Photo: Cinema Retro)
By Lee Pfeiffer
In recent years, New Jersey has become Seventh Heaven for classic movie lovers, with numerous old-time theaters giving first class presentations of great films. April 29 saw a special screening of Stanley Kramer's 1963 comedy classic It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World at the Cedar Lane Theaters in Teaneck, New Jersey. Droves of fans came from far and wide to attend the show. A very nice 35mm print was screened to the delight of one and all. Theater owner Nelson Page is no stranger to movie fans. He's been sponsoring his program of Big Screen Classics for years and providing yeoman showmanship in the process. At the Cedar Lane, audiences were treated to a wonderful pre-show old time organ recital that included the film's main theme. The theater is also a treasure trove of old-time vestiges of an era when going to a movie theater was something special. There's a vintage theater box-office inside the theater lobby, as well as some eye-catching original movie posters. For Mad World, Paul Scrabo, one of the world's great experts on the film and the man who was instrumental in putting together the tribute documentary released by MGM Home Video in the 1990s, displayed rare posters and original artwork from the film. Scrabo also introduced the film and provided some fascinating insights into the behind-the-scenes stories. Scrabo also astutely pointed out that, while some people find the film to be overblown and unfunny, the criticism that the actors are overshadowed by the stunts is completely untrue. He correctly informed the audience that the script allows each of the many actors to play a fully developed character and lets their unique comedic abilities shine.Scrabo also said that many of the stars of the film were primarily known to audiences through black-and-white TV series. Thus, the opportunity to see all these legendary comics on the wide screen and in color was quite a thrill in 1963. The fact that the film has such a loyal and enthusiastic following after all these decades is all the proof you need that Stanley Kramer succeeded in his vision of creating a comedy that is a true classic.
Click here to visit Paul Scrabo's website which has extensive coverage of Mad World.
Click here for more information on the Big Screen Classics series.
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