Saturday, April 13, 2013

Jonathan Winters & the Bicycle Scene in "A Mad Mad World"

The comic actor and performer Jonathan Winters just passed away - I grew up thinking he was terribly funny, although sometimes puzzling. I found myself looking at some of his performances on YouTube and in particular his contributions to the epic (if only in length at 161 minutes) "pursuit" comedy film, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

At 2:22 Winters retrieves the bicycle he has thrown away and eventually uses it to set off in pursuit, after first stomping on it

To my mind, one scene unintentionally makes a statement about the attitude of most Americans towards bicycles at this time, in the mid-60s. Winters' character, Lennie Pike, is determined to continue despite being reduced to a bicycle (and a child's bicycle at that). He manages to get a ride with another character by Phil Silvers and immediately tosses the bicycle away, with evident pleasure. The Phil Silvers character however drives off without him, leaving Pike (Winters) to retrieve the bicycle and continue using it. First, however, he stomps on it several times. Then, left with no alternative, he continues with the bicycle. A bicycle in 1963 for transportation? The last resort.

Completely separate from that, Winters was the best thing about this movie.

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