Monday, August 8, 2011

485. The Producers (1968)

Running Time: 88 minutes
Directed By: Mel Brooks
Written By: Mel Brooks
Main Cast: Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Dick Shawn, Kenneth Mars, Lee Meredith


Needing to watch something short last night, due to the fact that I was so tired, I skimmed the 60s movies that were streaming on Netflix and decided on Mel Brooks' first feature, "The Producers".

Has been, Broadway producer Max Bialystock (Mostel) hasn't had a hit in years. Nowadays he's resorted to being a boy toy for aging widows to get enough money to survive. When Leo Bloom (Wilder), an accountant, arrives at Bialystock's office to do the books, he makes an interesting discovery. He finds that a producer could theoretically make more money with a flop, than with a hit. The producer would simply raise more money than he needed to produce the play and when it flopped on opening night, the backers would never come to collect on a play that presumably lost money. Bialystock, the schemer that he is, persuades Bloom to help him get the con off the ground and goes around to every old, rich widow that he knows asking for checks. Bialystock and Bloom ultimately raise a million bucks and go to work finding the worst play they can possibly find. Bialystock lands on a play titled, "Springtime for Hitler", written by lunatic ex-Nazi Franz Liebkind (Mars). They hire the worst director in town, Roger De Bris and cast the worst actor imaginable to play Hitler, Lorenzo St. DuBois (Shawn)...or L.S.D. to his friends. With a surefire flop under their belt, all that Bialystock and Bloom have left to do is set back, watch their play go down and then hop a place to Rio, where they plan to live high on the hog.


This one started out bad, as for some reason the opening credits just really irked the crap out of me. Scenes of Bialystock "playing" with one of his merry widows, that kept stopping and were spliced with the opening titles. Beyond that though, the film is a romp! The plot is so ridiculous that it's actually very funny and I found myself doing something that I rarely do with comedies and that's laughing out loud (or LOL'ing to you youngsters). I very rarely laugh out loud when it comes to comedies and that's not to say that they're not funny, it's just that it takes a lot to get me to really laugh at something, but "The Producers" got me and mostly it was thanks to Gene Wilder (who's always great) and Dick Shawn, who I couldn't help but chuckle at. Zero Mostel was hilarious too and the entire time I was watching the film, I found myself asking whatever happened to this guy, because he's really funny. Turns out that Mostel was blacklisted for many years, unable to get movie roles, with certain directors like Elia Kazan and Mel Brooks petitioning to get Mostel into their movies. The whole cast here really did a fine job and added to the zaniness of the entire production.

Sure the movie was incredibly predictable, as it didn't take 20/20 vision to see that the film was obviously going to be a success and then the duo of Bialystock and Bloom would have to get out of the hole that they dug for themselves. But it's still a ton of fun and I'd recommend to anyone looking for a good comedy or just a good laugh. I think that about says it all for "The Producers".

I'll leave you with an interesting fact that I found while looking up tidbits for "The Producers". It turns out that in Sweden the title of this film actually translates to "Springtime for Hitler". In addition to that tidbit, apparently all of Brooks' films in Sweden are affixed with the word "Springtime", with Springtime for The Sheriff (Blazing Saddles), Springtime for Frankenstein (Young Frankenstein), Springtime for Space (Spaceballs), Springtime for the Slum (Life Stinks), Springtime for World History (History of the World, Part 1), Springtime for Stepmother (The Twelve Chairs), Springtime for the Silent Movies (Silent Movie), Springtime for The Lunatics (High Anxiety).

RATING: 7.5/10 Brooks is 1-1 with me and someday I'll watch his third and final film in the book, "Young Frankenstein".


August 8, 2011 4:39pm

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting trivia snippet...
    Mel Brooks.. I keep trying to like him and missing. He has some brilliant moments, some great ideas..things look good then he spoils it all with a 'Benny Hill moment' - when desperate for a laugh, through in a dumb blonde with big breasts. Oh how hillarious.
    But 'The producers', whist having that, has many more good moments, usually when it's Zero & Wilder together, so I will agree with you on this one...


SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #66: La piscine/The Swimming Pool (1969)

Running Time: 120 minutes Directed By: Jacques Deray Written By: Jean-Claude Carriere, Jacques Deray, Alain Page Main Cast: Alain Del...