Saturday, April 19, 2008

'It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World' ...

The other day, I received an e-mail, the sender listed only as Alexandra.

It was from Alex Barile, one of the daughters of my friend Charles, who passed away nearly five years ago.

She had run across my blog post about her dad and wrote to tell me how touched she was by what I wrote.

We've started trading e-mails – I know Charles is pleased that we're in touch – and in one of them, she mentioned that her dad's favorite movie was "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," a detail about him I didn't know, a movie I hadn't seen, easily, in 30 years.

So I added it to my Netflix queue, it arrived, and last night, I popped it in.

Twenty minutes later, as the opening credits were winding down – OK, they weren't 20 minutes long, but they were close – I said to Charles, because I still talk to him, "I'd forgotten that this entire movie was made up of opening credits."

And I heard, very clearly in my head, Charles' voice saying, "Oh, shut up," in his Archie Bunker way.

I'll confess that I didn't watch the whole movie. I watched a good chunk of it, but it's more than two and a half hours long, and who can listen to Ethel Merman screech for that long? Besides Charles, that is? But there were some truly funny moments, like when Jimmy Durante dies and literally kicks a bucket. Corny-funny, but funny nonetheless. It was 1963, after all.

So, when it comes to remembering Charles through a movie, I'm going to stick with "Casablana."

He looked as good in a white dinner jacket as Bogart. That's Alex in the picture with him, looking very cute, though now she's all grown up and incredibly gorgeous.

I'm so happy that we're in touch.


Anonymous Jay said...

You really must give the rest of the flick a chance, Beth. Did you make it to the scene where Jonathan Winters goes berserk and single-handedly destroys a gas station?

The beginning drags a bit, but the crescendo going into the intermission (and yes, it's long enough that it had an intermission in the theaters!) is genius.

Jim Backus' bit part as the alcoholic pilot is a riot too.

6:54 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Yup, Jay, I did get to the gas-station part. I found it, like the credits, too long. Not to mention absurd.

Jim Backus' bit as the pilot was indeed funny, I'll grant you that, but I think this movie might invoke the Three Stooges Effect: guys think it's hilarious, women don't see what all the fuss is about.

7:47 AM  

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