Week of November 18 - November 24, 2001
If it's Mel Brooks's first movie, it has got to be good. Right?
Fortunately it is good. No, no, it's great!
Mel Brooks does not star in this film, but he writes and directs it. While it doesn't have the same "joke-a-minute" laugh-caliber of some of his later films, namely "Blazing Saddles" and "Young Frankenstein," this maniacal comedy classic has an interesting concept and an amusing script that is sure tickle your funny bone.
Zero Mostel plays Max Bialystock, a washed-up Broadway producer whose productions have lately been grade-A flops. Enter Gene Wilder who plays Leo Bloom, a highly timid accountant hired to set Mostel's financial books in order. Wilder makes a whimsical observation stating that one can make more money producing a flop than a hit. To do this, they simply collect about a million or so dollars from investors (selling approximately 2500% of the play) and producing a play that is so terrible that it closes on opening night. Therefore, if the play loses money, the investors cannot expect a return, allowing the producers to pocket the unused cash. Mostel convinces Wilder to become his partner in this grand scheme and they manage to find a play entitled "Springtime For Hitler."
While this movie's script is not terribly funny (I think "outdated" may be a more appropriate term), the success of this movie is owed quite dearly to Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder who do the almost-impossible -- give performances that are actually funnier than the script. These two actors are supported lovely by Dick Shawn, a hippie who is the Hitler in their play (priceless), and Kenneth Mars who is the author of "Springtime For Hitler" and also happens to be an extremely whacked Nazi. The rest of the supporting cast (it's pointless to name everybody) help make this film the comedic gem that it is.
I have to admit that the first time I viewed this movie, I wasn't too thrilled about it. However, after having seen it multiple times, it has moved into my top list of favorite films! This movie actually seems to improve the more times it is viewed!
Mel Brooks has since turned this into a highly successful Broadway musical (winning the most Tony Awards ever) starring Nathan Lane (as Bialystock) and Matthew Broderick (as Bloom).
FINAL VERDICT: A+
The concept and the script make "The Producers" an interesting film. However, the wonderfully maniacal performances helped this film gain status as one of America's top comedies. (It is number 11 on AFI's 100 Funniest Movies list).
Released: November 10, 1968
Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Kenneth Mars, Estelle Winwood, Renee Taylor, Dick Shawn, Lee Meredith, Christopher Hewett, Andreas Voutsinas, David Patch
Don Ignacio's score: A+
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