Friday, April 12, 2013

Jonathan Winters: Hilarious Madness

In remembering Jonathan Winters I'd like to take a look at one of the funniest minutes in one of the funniest films. Here in It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Phil Silvers gasses up the car he stole from a furiously pursuant Jonathan Winters. Some movies build up a joke over the course of a whole scene but here they come at a mad cap pace in which nearly every moment offers a novel laugh.

Right of the bat we have Silvers laying his polished flim-flam routine on the station attendants, convincing them Winters, due to arrive at any moment, is a deranged mental patient. Right on cue Winters' buterball frame cycles in on atop a dainty bicycle and proceeds to chase Silvers around the car as he continues to lay his phony-psychiatrist shtick on the attendants. The increasingly enraged Winters responds by unhinging the car door and bounding over the vehicle, landing atop the fleeing Silvers who continues his incontinent effusion of desperate outrage.

The minute climaxes as Winters grabs the chiseler by the collar and proceeds to thrash him against the gas pump, the sale bell tinkling each time. Finally Winters slings his arms through two massive tires and with what look like two massive bosoms gleefully beats his former tormentor.

The scene is classic rip of nonstop-gags which plays off the simple contrast between the two characters: Winters' growling vs. Silvers' relentless jabbering, husky vs. skinny, mad vs. terrified. It's a blast, but it's also only about one minute of a long hilarious movie, and career.

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