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"It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"
40th Anniversary 2003

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Joe Kelly, Richard Greenhalgh, Rick Mitchell & Jay Spivey Date: November 3, 2003
The Cinerama Dome. Picture by Richard Greenhalgh.

In the fall of 1963, two icons were born - the Cinerama Dome and Stanley Kramer's classic comedy " It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World". This October 17-19, our historic Cinerama Dome will showcase a 40th Anniversary Special Edition print presented in 70mm and, for the first time, in digital sound with the legendary intermission and "police calls" voiced by Spencer Tracy and William Demarest.

On October 16, you can participate in the exciting recreation of the Dome's special 1963 opening night. Edie Adams, Sid Caesar, Peter Falk, Stan Freberg, Marvin Kaplan, Don Knotts, Jerry Lewis, Carl Reiner, Madlyn Rhue, Mickey Rooney, and Jonathan Winters are scheduled to appear. Proceeds from this event will benefit a newly established Stanley Kramer Graduate Fellowship in Film Directing at UCLA, honoring students who demonstrate passion and excellence in the art of film directing. Tickets are $30 and include popcorn, soda, parking, and a free gift. You won't want to miss it!

THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT. Please click on the "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World-40th Anniversary Special Edition Print" on the Home Page to purchase tickets for October 17, 18 and 19.

Text from the Pacific Theatres website
Further in 70mm reading:

Ultra Panavision 70 films

About the new 70mm print

Cinerama Dome - Playdates Chronology, 1963-Present

Pacific’s Cinerama Dome…Where Movie-going is an Event

Privilege to return

Mad Running times at the Cinerama Dome. Picture by Richard Greenhalgh.

This past weekend I had the privilege to return to the Cinerama Dome where I had first seen the inaugural film that opened this unique theater 40 years earlier. The film was Stanley Kramer's " It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Word" which features over 60 of our country's top comedians. For some, this was their last appearance in a motion picture and it was good to see them participate in this madcap comedy/adventure. It was a great experience to see this classic again, on the big screen, with a new 70mm print and a sparkling sound track. This film opened with a running time of about 192 minutes. Sadly, this version only contains 157 of those minutes, but most won't notice the missing footage though I caught much of it. The film was well received by the good-sized audience.

Richard Greenhalgh, October 19, 2003

• Go to Remembering Richard Greenhalgh May 29, 1948 – September 5, 2011

Brought Back Memories

Faded 70mm frame. Press picture to see enlargement.

15 Oct 2003

That movie brought back more memories, When it was released in 1963 they scheduled the press preview in UAs Syosset Theatre, which was running at that time 3 strip Cinerama "How The West Was Won", which needless to say was playing in other key situations in the New York area. The Syosset however was the only theatre that could play both 3 strip and 70mm at the same time thanks to yours truly having rearranged the equipment in the main booth to place each Norelco 35/70 projector on each side of the Cinerama center screen or "baker" projector with a lot of custom switching hardware that we built in our own shop. 

The projection throw from the Syosset main booth was long (135 feet) and off axis projection was not a problem. What did bother Stanley Kramer was the loss of picture information at the center of the Cinerama screen due to the "bow tie" aperture plates as the film was initially composed for flat screen projection andf the opening title graphics suffered the most as the bouncing world ball was chopped off a bit when it entered that screen area.

I came to their rescue from my experience with D-150 and had the bottom screen masking profile altered so it rose slightly on each end to produce a "smile" and that permitted the aperture plate to be refiled to open the "bow" at the center and expose more information. Everybody was happy and who do you think got the praise; Cinerama of course.

I have the movie on Laser Disc and can never see enough of it.


Joe Kelly, 
Former head of engineering for United Artist Theaters.

Joe Kelly was involved with most of all projection systems of the 50's and co-developed D-150 with Dick Vetter

• Go to The Passing of Joe Kelly

A Rare Opportunity

The Cinerama Dome. Picture by Richard Greenhalgh.

Of all the various methods of "wide screen" production and presentation introduced over the last 50 years, the two most controversial and disputed are VistaVision and Camera 65/Ultra Panavision. As the latter has not been used for photography in 35 years nor examples of it shown in the same time frame, MGM's striking of a new 70mm print of " It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World", at the urging of its producer-director's widow, and its presentation at the Cinerama Dome offers a rare opportunity to see and re-evaluate this widest format ever used commercially.

A caveat: I have been doing most of my wide screen research with 16mm and Super 8 anamorphic prints, whose aspect ratio of @2.66:1 is close to Ultra Panavision's 2.75:1 so I did not have the problem some people might with the wider image, which I actually more pleasing than spherical 70mm's 2.2:1, especially as viewed on the Dome's big screen. 

" It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" was not shot with the intention of being a "Cinerama" presentation so there are very view of the dynamic POV shots associated with the three-panel process, but they are quite effective. Alternately, the film has a number of scenes in which up to eight actors are grouped across the frame in medium shots that work quite well. Overall the film is well composed for the format 

The new print is state-of-the-art, the negative showing no sign of damage or fading. This is the 157 minute version as the negative for the deleted footage is not known to exist. The overture, en'tracte, and walk out music have been restored as well as the police calls heard during the intermission, though repeated three times for some reason. The sound, in DTS' Special Venue format, appears to be the original 6 track mix, so voices match their on-screen source, etc.

It would be interesting to see some of the other Camera 65/Ultra Panavision films though that's not likely to happen. Some new footage exploiting the format to a greater degree than the films made in the Fifties and Sixties would also be interesting. You have only seven more opportunities to see this " It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" presentation, so if you're truly interested in wide screen, you should avail yourself of one. I overheard one audience member claim that because of the bus strike, he'd walked 15 miles from Glendale to see it!

Rick Mitchell
Film Editor/ Film Director/ Film Historian

• Go to Rick Mitchell Interview

Catch a Screening

Stunt Dummies used during the fire ladder finale of “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” on display during the 40th Anniversary engagement. Picture by Jay Spivey

On October 16th I attended the Sold Out “Premiere” screening and benefit. What a night it was! Not only were there folks associated with the film but local dignitaries were on hand to praise the film and the historic Cinerama Dome. After a well-received welcome by legendary Hollywood “Mayor” Johnny Grant, the wonderful Karen Kramer spoke about the film and its director the late Stanley Kramer. Actor Billy Bob Thornton, who was a friend of Mr. Kramer, was also on hand to reminisce.

Members of the Foreman family, founders of the Pacific Theatre chain which manages the Dome and the adjacent Arclight Theatre complex, were in attendance as this was also a 40th Anniversary Celebration of one of the very best motion picture theatres in the world. It’s hard to believe but this architectural landmark which has stood for forty years, only took 16 weeks to construct! The Dome after having recently undergone a thorough refurbishment is better than ever. I strongly urge anyone visiting the Los Angeles area to catch a screening.

Due to the authentic curvature of the Dome’s screen, the70MM presentation was somewhat “curled” on the ends. However the usual 70MM clarity was fantastic.

The packed house was yet another testament as to how much presentation matters. I spoke with several out-of-town visitors who came specifically for this event. Hopefully those behind the scenes will be instrumental in allowing the Dome to continue its tradition for years to come.

Jay Spivey 11/07/03
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Updated 21-01-24