Mel Brooks's directorial debut remains both a career high point and a classic show business farce. Hinging on a crafty plot premise, which in turn unleashes a joyously insane onstage spoof, The Producers is powered by a cl... more »utch of over-the-top performances, capped by the odd couple pairing of the late Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder, making his screen debut. Mostel is Max Bialystock, a gone-to-seed Broadway producer who spends his days wheedling checks from his "investors," elderly women for whom Bialystock is only too willing to provide company. When wide-eyed auditor Leo Bloom (Wilder) comes to check the books, he unwittingly inspires the wild-eyed Max to hatch a sure-fire plan: sell 25,000 percent of his next show, produce a deliberate flop, then abscond with the proceeds. Unfortunately for the producers (but fortunately for us), their candidate for failure is Springtime for Hitler, a Brooksian conceit that envisions what Goebbels might have accomplished with a little help from Busby Berkeley. Truly startling during its original 1968 release, The Producers does show signs of age in some peripheral scenes that make merry at the expense of gays and women. But the show's nifty cast (notably including the late Dick Shawn as LSD, the space cadet that snags the musical's title role, and Kenneth Mars as the helmeted playwright) clicks throughout, and the sight of Mostel fleecing his marks is irresistibly funny. Add Wilder's literally hysterical Bloom, and it's easy to understand the film's exalted status among late-'60s comedies. --Sam Sutherland« less
Mike King | Taunton, MA United States | 01/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Producers" was a very bold movie for first time director Mel Brooks to tackle. Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder were not nationally known movie stars, and the subject matter was very controversial. To his credit, Mel stuck to his guns and made the movie exactly the way he envisioned it. The only concession he made was changing the original title "Springtime For Hitler," because no movie studio would promote a film and theater owners wouldn't show a movie with Hitler in the title. The first part of the movie is hysterical, especially watching Gene Wilder getting so agitated that he appears to actually be having a nervous breakdown! The scene at Lincoln Center is one of the most effective scenes ever filmed. Zero finally persuades Gene to go along with his crazy scheme, and Gene yells "I'll do it!" Just then, the water in the fountain majestically rises up. Gene giddily dances around the fountain as Zero smiles approvingly.The opening dance number of the play "Springtime For Hitler" is outrageously over the top, with the dancers wearing Nazi uniforms and goose-stepping across the stage. Especially offensive to some is when the overhead view shows the dancers below in the form of a swastika. As Mel said in his interview, if you've gone that far out, you might as well go all the way. The cult status of the film has grown over the years. Life imitated art when "The Producers" was turned into a real Broadway musical. The staggering success of the play led to the film finally being released on DVD. As a great man once wrote, you can't keep a good movie down!"
Mel Brooks' First-And Best
Patrick A. Hayden | Arlington, VA United States | 12/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Producers", which has gained newfound fame due to the Musical Comedy that Mel Brooks created based on this, his first movie, is also the best thing Brooks has ever done. "Blazing Saddles" was a gag-a-minute take on the Western, and "Young Frankenstein" was Brooks' spoof on horror, but in "The Producers", Brooks' made something that was entirely his own: a madcap, hilarious, perfectly cast satire of life on the seedier side of Broadway.The late, great Zero Mostel stars as Max Bilalystock, a former big-time Broadway producer who has been reduced to seducing old ladies for checks to fund flops. Into his sad life comes accountant Leo Bloom(Gene Wilder in the first of several Brooks' collaborations). Bloom is a nebbishly high-strung auditor who offhandedly mentions to Max that a producer could make more money from a flop than a hit. This launches one of the most hilarious movies ever made, as Bloom and Bialystock scheme to find the worst sript, worst director, and worst actors to make the most tasteless and awful play ever.The humor here is some of Brooks' finest. He expertley skewers Broadway egos, Nazis's, and greed as he tells the tale of the production of "Springtime for Hitler", written by an ex-Nazi who still holds onto the idea that Hitler was a great man. What keeps it from becoming an offensive movie is that the play is so hopelessly miscast and directed that it is just a big joke, and the fact that the audience knows that the Nazi is being taken advantage of steers the film away from the dark aspects of that ideology and makes fun of everything Hitler was trying to create. Wilder shines as Bloom, in his first major role, as he moves from loser to producer to desperate criminal, and Mostel shows his fine gift for broad comedy in his portrayal of the morally bankrupt producer who prizes money above all else. The film's funniest scenes involve bizzare breakdowns from Wilder, the hilarious alegiance to the defunct Third Reich by the playright, played with utter conviction by Kenneth Mars, and of course the play itself. The opening musical number is a sight to behold, and manages to spoof every over the top broadway production ever in the sense that everyone involved in the production, save Wilder and Mostel, take it so damn seriously.The Producers has finally gotten the DVD release it deserves, and should delight anyone who loves Mel Brooks, and perhaps win a few converts who only know him from his latter day flops(Men in Tights, I'm looking at you). Brooks had 10 great years of moviemaking in him, and he starts it out with a bang in this film."
"Where did I go right?"
Allen Smalling | Chicago, IL United States | 01/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
This is it! The source, THE PRODUCERS, the 1968 release with screenplay and direction by Mel Brooks, juicy parts by Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Kenneth Mars and others, and a well-deserved reputation as one of the funniest movie comedies ever. Filmed on a pittance (less than $1 million, cheap even by Sixties standards), THE PRODUCERS almost died unrecognized until it became a cult hit in New York, L.A., Chicago and then, everywhere.
SPOILER GRAF: The plot is brilliantly diabolical: a corrupt Broadway producer (Zero Mostel) and his nebbishy accountant assistant (Gene Wilder) deliberately oversell a play with the design to create a flop and keep the proceeds. They hire the worst possible playwright, director, and choreographer and deliberately insult the drama critics. But the play is so hilariously awful it becomes awfully hilarious. The essence of 1960s camp: It's good because it's so bad.
It's hard to overstate just how good Mel Brooks' first movie is. The low budget forced a lot of outside shooting in New York City, and as a result the movie looks fresh, not cosmetized. The premise of a play about "Adolf and Eva in a gay romp at Berchtesgaden" was, if anything, more offensive just 23 years after the end of the Second World War than it is today. A big gamble on Brooks' part, but it played.
This edition is well worth the extra couple of dollars over the "movie only" version. It includes a second CD, apparently put together about the time of the 2001 Broadway musical, and contains stills, bios, and an engaging documentary about the film's making and reception. The last is especially fun since all the principals involved (except the late Zero Mostel) are alive and active and possessed of strong memories of that "kooky" classic-in-the-making.
The 2005 movie with Broadway vets Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick is proving a disappointment to those who remember the original movie or the 2001 Broadway smash. The new movie took the Broadway book and set it in an imagined-and expensive--"indeterminate past" full of late 1950s cars and fashions. Unfortunately, what works on the stage doesn't always translate on film, and despite all the talent and money involved, the new movie comes across as stagey, self-absorbed and at times a bit labored. And LONG: half again as long as this original, which clocks in right at an hour and a half.
The verdict: All versions of THE PRODUCERS are funny, but the 1968 movie is the one to start with. Enjoy it now at a great price.
WHERE IS THE UNEDITED VERSION OF "THE PRODUCERS" ?
RELENTLESS | JUST SOUTH OF OZ | 09/06/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"CAUTION: MAJOR SPOILERS CONTAINED HEREIN...I have been a big fan of the original theatrical cut (circa 1968) for nearly 40 years. My biggest disappointment is that there is no video format that has ever kept that original vision intact. This classic comedy had been hacked up on network TV long before commercial video formats ever existed. By the time it was released to laserdisc, two terrific scenes were editied down or out (probably for reasons of pacing and flow). My personal feeling is THOSE SCENES WORKED BETTER left as originally conceived. The "INTERMISSION" sequence actually sets up the original ending for the film. Max buys the drunk at the bar his drink, makes a toast "TO TOAST", then ambles over to the juke-box. Max then invites Leo and the Drunk to sing-along to "By The Light of the Silvery Moon". The truncated (video) version shows them already in the middle of the tune when the "Springtime" theater patrons rush in. Secondly, in the original version Franz stomps out "THE QUICK FUSE!" before the theater blows up. Perhaps Mel thought the scene played out funnier having the playhouse blow-up after their terrified screams. To me it doesn't. It is way too obvious and cliche. The original vision has Franz wiring the dynamite to the plunger box whereon the drunk from the bar completes the circuit, mistaking it for a shoe shine box. "OKAY BOYS", he declares. "SHINE 'EM UP"...KABOOM!!! This was unexpected and very very funny. I was hoping this new two disc release would restore the original vision of the film. Sadly it does not. I understand there is a deleted scene in this package. But the deleted scene was not deleted from the movie...it has been deleted from the video presentation. I agree with those individuals who balk at FORCED commercials, products or trailers on DVD. This is reprehensible. It ranks right up there with FORCED commercials in multiplex theaters. Last note: "THE PRODUCERS" is truly one of the funniest comedies ever made. If you have not seen it, rent or buy whichever release you can get. I hope the original theatrical presentation will be made available at some point in time for purists who hysterically (and quite literally) fell out of their chairs back in 1968."
One of my FAVORITE movies ever!!! :)
Robert J. Schneider | Tacoma, WA USA | 04/30/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Producers" and "The Wizard of Oz" are the two films that I have seen the most amount of times in my life---> 15 times each!! :) I totally agree with Leonard Maltin that it is "one of those rare films that gets funnier with each viewing." It really does, and I always find something new in it that makes me laugh. Not only is "The Producers" Mel Brooks's first film, and one of his best, but it is quite simply STILL one of the greatest comedies ever made. Why? It's not just the plot, which itself is funny-- no, it is the performances of the late great Zero Mostel as Max Bialystock (what a name!), Gene Wilder as Leo Bloom (whose name was derived from James Joyce's "Ulysses" whose stage version starred Zero Mostel), Kenneth Mars as "Springtime For Hitler" author Franz Liebkin, Christopher Hewitt (Mr. Belvedere himself!) as flamboyantly gay, and cross-dressing, Roger DeBris (another great name!), the late great Dick Shawn as "L.S.D.", and so on...and the interaction between all of them is just hilarious! Even all of the smaller roles get filled with with memorable characters. (Like the "CONCI-OIGE!") For the most part, they just don't make comedies like this anymore.Now, they've just re-made "The Producers" for Broadway (as Franz Liebkin would say, "Broadvay...oh, joy of joys! Oh, dream of dreams!! I MUST TELL THE BIRDS!!!") I sure can't wait to see this version, even if it takes me a couple of years to do it. I've heard that it's been sold out for the next 2 years. It's just a testament to this film's timelessness...and the fact that it's REALLY funny!! If anyone reading this STILL hasn't seen it, well then what are you waiting for? Buy it, see it with your friends or family, and have a good time laughing. :)"