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Comedy Movies - The Producers

BUY The Producers (dvd cover)
Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Dick Shawn
Written and directed by Mel Brooks
2 DVD Deluxe Edition
Avco Embassy 1968
MGM Home Video 2005
90 minutes

In yet another instance of real life being ever weirder than the movies, the Mel Brooks Academy Award winning (1968, Best Original Screenplay) movie about putting on a Broadway show, The Producers, became a Broadway musical starring Matthew Broderick as Leon Bloom (the Gene Wilder role) and Nathan Lane as Max Bialystock (buy all his stock) the role originally created by Zero Mostel. The Producers, Deluxe Edition is a 2 DVD set with the movie, in both widescreen and full screen on one DVD and a second DVD with various and plentiful extras that basically plug the soon to be released movie of the new version of The Producers with Will Ferrel in the role of Franz Liebkind and Uma Thurman.

The original movie version of The Producers is the funniest "Let's put on a show" movie ever made. Max Bialystock (the very funny Zero Mostel) is a down on his luck producer and old ladies man who makes the fortuitous encounter of wizard accountant Leon Bloom (Mel Brooks in perhaps his best performance ever). Bloom has an eye for numbers and soon realizes selling shares in a Broadway show is a good way to make some easy money if you do everything right by doing everything wrong.

The Producers, in this case Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel, decide to raise a million dollars by overselling shares by some 25 thousand percent in a Broadway show they plan to be a disaster. The idea is the show will flop and they will get to keep the money they did not put in the show's budget. They find their show in Springtime For Hitler: a gay romp with Adolph and Eva at Bechtersgarden. a play by Franz Liebkind, an American Nazi, they think will close on page four. To ensure this failure, they cast the worst actors ever, including Dick Shawn as star Lorenzo St. DuBois (LSD) who is a stereotypical hippie straight out of Hair to play Hitler. Unfortunately, Shawn is great as a hippie Fuhrer.

One of the many reasons The Producers is such a great comedy is the economy with which Mel Brooks wrote and directed this very funny movie. Economy is not a word often associated with Mel Brooks now but in The Producers nothing is telegraphed and everything is quite subtle. The reason Leon Bloom, a straight-laced accountant, decides to go along with Max Bialystock's scheme is that he clearly has found a father figure and a way to free himself of all his hang-ups. The scene outside Rockefeller center and the fountain (which still looks grainy on the 2 DVD Deluxe Edition of The Producers) when the fountain turns on when the Mel Brooks character (whose mannerisms I am sure inspired Bobcat Goldthwait) decides to go for it is another example of the economy Brooks shows in this movie. At the same time, Bloom and Bialystock's opening musical number with the dancing swastika is, unfortunately for them brilliantly hilarious. The same can be said about the rather dramatic ending of Springtime For Hitler.

The Producers is a classic comedy and a funny movie the likes of which few have ever been attempted before or since. It is a must for any comedy movie fan.

The second DVD in the The Producers Deluxe Edition contains all the extras. These extras are a reading of th letter of support for the Producers Peter Sellers wrote in Variety, various previews of Sony Pictures releases, a very short preview of the new version of The Producers with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. You also get a documentary on the making of The Producers, the outtake version of the blowing up the theater scene (Brooks's final version is much better), and a sketch gallery. Not great, not bad as extras go.

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