Movie #51: The Producers (1968)


“It rose below vulgarity.”

Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) is a down-on-his-luck producers who used to make hit Broadway shows.  Now he funds his productions by swooning old ladies day in and day out, only to produce flops.  When accountant Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder) tells him that he could make more money than he needs by producing complete flop and pocket his investors money with them none-the-wiser.  They set out to find the worst script, director, and actors to make “Springtime for Hitler,”

As with any good movie, it has to start with strong leads.  Zero and Wilder carry this film.   Zero is convincing as a producer who grows tired of the same old antics with the little old ladies.  He’s also unapologetic and plausible as a character who will bend the rules and ignore the laws.

Something I love about Wilder is his use of non-verbals.  A timely pause with the right facial expression can say more than a paragraph of dialogue could ever do, and Wilder has mastered this craft.

Dick Shawn (Who plays Lorenzo St. DeBois or LSD) is charming but to a fault.  If I had to go on just hearing him, I would’ve honestly said that was Robin Williams performing.  I could take it or leave it, I like Williams at times, but a role like LSD is a little over the top.  It’s fitting for him to play a Hitler you can laugh at, and he plays into the whole hippie movement.

It’s interesting that Gene Wilder was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, which he lost to Jack Albertson, the man who played Grandpa Joe in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

As with many others, I am not a fan of remakes.  This was made into a successful Broadway production that turned into a movie starring Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, and Uma Thurman.  The 2005 version, though Mel Brooks wrote the script, is not one I plan on watching.  I can’t stand Lane or Thurman.  Lane is too over-the-top for me.  There’s just something about Thurman, I don’t understand her appeal.  Also, the fact that it cost $40 million to make and made a little less than half of that at the box office is pretty telling as far as audiences go.  From what I’ve read, it was one that probably should have stayed on Broadway.

The Producers offered audiences a preview of a long string of hilarious but vulgar movies from Mel Brooks.  Strong leads help carry this film above criticisms from content matter and allow for a nice hour and a half escape.  I could probably watch this movie a couple more times, but it’s one I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to see.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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