Sunday, 22 August 2010

It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

or...finding my big W!

In July last year I found myself in Long Beach California visiting the Queen Mary. I had planned to visit the Aquarium of the Pacific but decided against it at the last minute. With time on my hands I decided to take a walk around and discover the sights of Long Beach. I found myself a Starbucks and sat down. I noticed just down the street a city building with those all too famous external fire escape stairs. My mind started racing, could I find myself the movie locations of It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World?

There was one enormous problem. I had no idea what scenes were filmed in Long Beach or even where any locations were. IAMMMMW filmed all over Southern California. Was I getting Long Beach and Santa Monica confused? It was frustrating to say the least. My first thought was the climatic scene on the fire escape. Walking around Long Beach EVERY building looked like it belonged in the movie.

They all have external fire escapes and lets face it...Long Beach has changed a lot since 1963. (I had totally forgotten all the climatic scenes were filmed at Universal Studios in what was called Kramer Square.)
Kramer Square at Universal Studios NOT Long Beach

At this point I recalled the scene where Spencer Tracey runs up a set of stairs. I knew the scene was filmed in an alley. The problem was Long Beach has lots of them. After walking down two of them I was ready to give up. I had no idea where I was. I had no map. It was hot and I was ready to throw in the towel. Just as I was about to ask directions where I could find the Metroline I looked up and saw what I now call my "Big W!". On the side of a building was a faded arrow pointing down. I remember thinking, if this was movie it would be pointing where I needed to be.

I have no idea why, but I headed towards it. Nestled between a high rise and a Mexican restaurant was an alley. I crossed the road and started walking. It was then I let out a large squeal, alerting a security guard to my presence. I turned around and I was right in the middle of IAMMMMW. I still can't believe I found it. I was in total shock.


I then walked to the set of stairs that Spencer Tracey and the cast climb and let out another squeal. I'm surprised the location still looks remarkably the same some 47 years later.

As I was preparing this I looked at the photo with the arrow on the wall and my jaw dropped. The very top of the building looked very familiar indeed. They filmed on the rooftop with Spencer Tracey before cutting to the scenes filmed at Universal. The shells on the top of the building! Another discovery!

I can say without a doubt, Long Beach was a great place to visit. What I did wasn't on any tourist brochure but it just goes to prove, it is indeed a mad, mad, mad, mad world!


Steve Julian said...

Now that is cool.

Billy Joe Remarkable said...

Great film and a great blog! Love that big W.

Anonymous said...

Came across your blog. Nice work! Please check out my photos on Flickr of my Long Beach IAMMMMW locations.

spacepotato said...

Thanks for the kind words. I'm already a fan of your work on flickr...I have you listed as a contact. Small world.