DVD-News: Criterion’s It’s a Mad^4 World

I’m really not very good keeping up with the current news about all things DVD and Blu-Ray and I’m thinking of removing the news list entirely, but once in a while there’s something really exciting worth mentioning. This time it’s Stanley Kramer’s It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World – which has been out on DVD for ages and was even released on Blu-Ray in 2011, but only in the short 161-minute version. In the 1990s, the director himself had attempted to reconstruct his 192-minute premiere version with limited success and later film restorer Robert Harris lobbied literally for decades to save the original version of the movie. Now he seems to have succeeded, because a couple of days ago, Criterion announced that the movie will be released in a newly restored version on January 21st.

The press release and its thread on the venerable Home Theater Forum just about says it all – the general release 161-minute version will be accompanied by a reconstructed 192-minute version encompassing all the still available material including scenes that have been returned to the film here for the first time. The long version, previously only available on laserdisc, has been restored in high-definition, but the general release version was even transferred in 4k, all from the original 65/70mm elements in the original apspect ratio of 2.76:1 (it is possible, though, that the 4k transfer of the short version is the same as on the 2011 Blu-Ray, which would be absolutely fine). There are also a lot of amazing extras including a new audio commentary, several featurettes and archival material, but missing are the hour-long 1991 documentary and the deleted scenes (which are contained in the 192-minute version) from the MGM releases. But considering what else is there, this will be one hell of a fine release.

My only complaint is that it’s a dual-format version containing both the Blu-Ray and DVD. While I really like the approach of Criterion that everything is replicated 1:1 on both formats, this makes the set outrageously expensive. At a list price of $50 this is unaffordable for me and unless there will be some hefty discounts or I find a solution to just get the DVDs from the set, the Criterion release will be unfortunately off-limits for me. But I plan to write something about it nevertheless when it’s out!


  1. Tank the Hatchet

    I`m just totally sciced about that! The movie is one of my favorites from my childhood and when I first learned that it was heavly cut it just made me SCREAM!

    How can you do this to an obuious masterpiece like that? I was just furrioues!

    For years and years I was looking for the longest version possible but then I read somewhere that those assholes at MGM actually THREW AWAY cans and cans of cut scenes from the movie. They just threm them in the trash – can you belive these motherfuckers?

    Then I read about the 192m version. Okay. It`s still not the original cut (wich is rumored to be like over 4hrs, around 260m!) but at least it’s something.

    If they get that Criterion version out on Region B I`m certainyl gonne buy the BR. DVD is a dead fromat anyways. So If it`s a Dualedition you can have that from me.

  2. It’s absolutely mind-boggling how this movie has been destroyed over the decades… and we’re lucky that Robert Harris has been working so hard on bringing at least a reconstructed roadshow version back.

    We’ll see how I will get the DVDs – I haven’t yet talked to my occasional co-editor, who is at the moment too busy renovating and moving! I’m actually counting for a british release from Eureka or Masters of Cinema, since they have sometimes licensed from Criterion, but I’m not sure if this will be possible since the rights are also tied up at MGM here in Europe. The 2011 blu-ray of the movie hasn’t even been released in Europe, maybe that’s a good chance.

    I haven’t heard if the Criterion release will be region free, but the MGM blu-ray already is, so there are chances that the Criterion will be too.

  3. Für mich die Veröffentlichung des nächsten Jahres,ein muss Kaufen.
    Endlich brauche ich wegen dem Laserdiscplayer nicht mehr so bibbern :-)
    Die fast Original Langfassung hatte ich allmählich doch abgeschrieben.
    Die Laserdiscfassung sieht auf neumodischen Fernsehern leider nicht mehr so gut aus.
    Das einzig Blöde ist ,das ich dann die 161 min. Fasssung ,die ich gerade erst vor drei Monaten auf Blu gekauft dann doppelt habe.
    Aber mit Filmfans kann man es ja machen :-)

  4. @Alex: Die MGM-BD kannst du behalten, denn deren Dokumentation ist ja auf der Criterion-Ausgabe nicht dabei – ich habe diese Doku allerdings nie gesehen und weiß nicht genau, ob die auch wirklich was taugt.

  5. Das die Something a Little Less Serious nicht dabei ist,darauf hatte ich noch gar nicht geachtet.
    Die ist auch auf der Laserdisc.
    Ich finde die Dokumentation (circa 60 min.) gut und interessant, Stanley Kramer ist da zu sehen und erklärt z.b. das der Film kein echter Cinerama Film ist ,obwohl manchmal so beworben , mehrere Darsteller sind zu sehen,Carey Loftin der Stuntman ist auch dabei.
    Das Big W wird gezeigt ,was aber zum Zeitpunkt der Doku schon nicht mehr vollständig war.
    Muß man nicht extra Kaufen,aber gut finde ich die schon,also behalte ich die Blu :-)