This comic movie--with a title appropriate for this sad anniversary for Americans and others of many nations-- was one of the first I remember seeing at a drive-in theater--and have enjoyed on television from time to time since. It was an overhyped extravaganza of a film, more popular with the general public than with most critics.
It affords not only a worthy and multitudinous cast of mainly American comedians in their prime, but also reaffirms that humanity's lust for money can make mild-mannered grown-ups into badly-behaved children.
The plot, from screenwriter William Rose ("The LadyKillers") is simple. A older hoodlum just one step ahead of the cops a serious accident with his car flying off the road on a desert highway. Before he literally "kicks the bucket", he tells eight good samaritans in four separate parties gathered around him that there is a cache of 350,000 bucks hidden "under a big W" in a near-by coastal California town---all they have to do is get there and dig it up!
The "samaritans" soon fall out and a two-and-a-half hour melee ensues for control of the treasure, all the while Police Captain Culpepper tracks the would-be criminals while his personal and professional world crashes and burns all around him. Will his own deep-seeded avarice get the better of him?
Stanley Kramer produced and directed, and Ernest Gold did the excellent score.
Spencer Tracy ... Capt. C. G. Culpepper
Milton Berle ... J. Russell Finch
Sid Caesar ... Melville Crump
Buddy Hackett ... Benjy Benjamin
Ethel Merman ... Mrs. Marcus
Mickey Rooney ... Ding Bell
Dick Shawn ... Sylvester Marcus
Phil Silvers ... Otto Meyer
Terry-Thomas ... J. Algernon Hawthorne
Jonathan Winters ... Lennie Pike
Edie Adams ... Monica Crump
Dorothy Provine ... Emeline Marcus-Finch