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Before Broadway, There Was The Movie
Gazzer-213 December 2001
A down-on-his-luck Broadway producer, Max Biolystock (Zero Mostel), is reduced to funding his shows by romancing old ladies for cash. Enter neurotic accountant Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder), arriving at Biolystock's apartment to do his books. Upon discovering that Biolystock had extorted $2000.00 from his last Broadway flop, Bloom, simply on a whim, mentions to Biolystock that he could've made a fortune on the flop if he'd only gotten more money from the old ladies. Needless to say, this revelation gets Max's mind working---get the old ladies to invest $1,000,000 on what Biolystock knows will be a surefire flop, then run off with the excess cash! Max convinces the gullible Leo to join him on the scheme, and off the two men go, on a crusade to produce the biggest disaster Broadway has ever seen. They come across a god-awful work written by a former Nazi (Kenneth Mars) called "Springtime For Hitler," and decide to produce it. If it's a flop, Max & Leo will become rich. But if it's a hit, they'll go to jail....

If you're one of the infinite many who've been unable to secure any of those scorching-hot tickets to Mel Brooks' current Broadway phenomenon, "The Producers," there's always this, the original 1968 movie version to watch & enjoy. This Oscar-winner for Best Screenplay is a comedy classic, and easily Mel Brooks' masterpiece, a brilliantly funny film that hasn't aged a bit. Zero Mostel & Gene Wilder are hilarious & perfectly cast as the con-artist producers, with terrific chemistry between them (just their opening scene together, including the great bits about Leo's blue blanket, and Leo terrified of being jumped on by Max, is already one of the great filmed moments of comic acting). Kudos all around to the rest of the cast, too: Kenneth Mars as the deranged Nazi playwright of "Springtime For Hitler," Christopher Hewett as the no-talent gay director who only makes "Springtime" even more misguided than it already is, Dick Shawn in an outrageous performance as L.S.D., the hippie ham who lands the coveted role of Hitler (his audition song, "Love Power," is a major highlight), and the gorgeous Lee Meredith as Ulla, Max & Leo's dimwitted secretary. And then there's the "Springtime For Hitler" production number itself---yes, it's everything you've ever heard about it, a wonderfully hysterical "you gotta see it to believe it" moment in film comedy.

Mel Brooks' direction is spot on, and his hysterical screen writing here has never been better (though his co-writing with Gene Wilder on "Young Frankenstein" comes close). His Oscar win for the screenplay was very well deserved, indeed. "The Producers" is a timeless comedy classic, and the defining moment of Mel Brooks' long illustrious film career.
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Zany Mel Brooks comedy is over-the-top laugh riot...
Doylenf20 January 2007
There are so many laughs in THE PRODUCERS (long before Mel Brooks lost his magic touch), that you'll be in tears by the time Brooks gets to his "Springtime for Hitler" routine. ZERO MOSTEL's early scenes with ESTELLE WINWOOD are hilarious enough, but he and GENE WILDER top themselves by the time you get to the frantic ending.

LEE MEREDITH is the curvy Ulla who can shake a mean hip and DICK SHAWN is the hilariously daffy Lorenzo St. DuBois (LSD for short), and everyone in the cast has a fine time delivering over-the-top performances in the spirit in which this sort of satire requires.

The story is simply that of a producer running short on cash who devises a scheme whereby if he produces the worst musical in the world, he can actually get his investment back and then some. He convinces his mild-mannered bookkeeper GENE WILDER to join him in the scheme and then the fun gets off to a great start.

The climactic "Springtime for Hitler" is just one of the delirious highlights (if politically incorrect by today's standards), and is probably the reason so many of the comments here resent the film and everything it stands for. But there's no getting away from it--the script is downright brilliant and original--winning an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and numerous other writing awards including an award from The Writer's Guild of America.

Summing up: Mel Brooks at his wittiest.
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The Producers: 9/10
movieguy10219 July 2003
When you see a movie once and think it's hilarious, that's a good sign. When you see a movie about a half-dozen times and think it's still hilarious, that's more than a good sign. That means that not only can you put up with seeing it multiple times, but you also find new things that you didn't see before. Plus, there are some scenes that are too hilarious not to laugh at! The chemistry between stars doesn't hurt, either. What movie am I talking about? Mel Brooks' The Producers, his most sustained and inspired piece of lunacy!

Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel have amazing chemistry as meek accountant Leo Bloom and scheming Broadway producer Max Bialystock. Max seduces little old ladies for checks, and when Leo comes into his office one day, he finds that a producer can make more money with a flop instead of a hit. They decide to do his ploy, and create the world's worst play, Springtime for Hitler (a gay romp with Adolf and Eva), and meet interesting characters, including author Franz Liebkind (Kenneth Mars), director Roger DeBris (Christopher Hewett), and their Hitler, Lorenzo St.DuBois, aka L.S.D. (Dick Shawn).

What makes this comedy such a gem is its mixture of types of comedy. There is slapstick, there's satire, there's bad taste, and everything but the kitchen sink! The scenes I have seen so many times, but what makes me love them is how they, mainly Wilder, play their roles. Wilder is somewhat crazy, and relies on his blanket to calm himself down. Not only does he have comic perfection, he's a darned good actor to boot! Mostel is great as the would-be sleazy loser-producer, with eye movements that put Silent Bob to shame and a great voice.

The songs in it are great, also. Two of them were written by Brooks himself, `Springtime for Hitler' (with which I have auditioned for a role in a musical with) and `Prisoners of Love'. They're both very funny (real Brooks-ian) (note to Merriam-Webster: include that word right next to `bling-bling'). It's not exactly a musical, but The Producers is in a class of its own. Long live The Producers!

My rating: 9/10

Rated PG for bad taste and homosexual themes.
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"Hitler was a great painter! He could paint an entire apartment in one day, . . Two Coats! "
thinker16912 April 2009
Mel brooks' first attempt at directing is this film " The Producers, " originally entitled "Spring Time For Hitler." It's the story of down and out producer Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel), once known as the 'King of Broadway' who can't believe his incredible streak of bad luck. Once when the Moon of his Fortune rode high, he had Six shows running at once. However now-a-days he's so poor, he wears a Cardboard belt. Into his life arrives a timid little man named Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder). As an accountant, he makes a startling discovery. In his last play Max, raised more money to produce his show than he needed. As a result, Leo speculates Max could make more money with a flop, than with a hit. Max demands to know how and a crooked scheme develops. Max decides to find the worse play ever written. He will then hire the worse, director, the worse actors and then raise a $1,000.000 for a flop of a play which is sure to close the first night, allowing Max to keep all the rest of the money. This then is the plot and with Bloom becoming his partner, the pair plans on keeping the fortune. The movie which also casts Dick Shawn as 'L.S.D.' or Lorenzo St. DuBois, Kenneth Mars as Franz Liebkind, Christopher Hewett and Roger De Bris all combine to create a wonderful masterpiece of hysterical madcap comedy. It is with little wonder this film began as an unwanted idea and ended up becoming the surprise hit of the decade. A milestone for Mel Brooks, but a Classic for any audience. ****
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A Milestone in Film-making
lawprof20 June 2004
The DVD release of "The Producers" sends me every viewing back to 1968 when I first saw this brilliant, barrier-smashing comedy. Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder were the perfect pair to bring to life the adventures of a Broadway faded impresario, now a con man, and his neurotic, hyper, accountant accomplice.

Together they fleece old ladies, something Mostel's Max Bialystock was doing before the auditor, Max Bloom, came by to check the books. Mostel's seduction of the old, the awful and the ugly has no equal in movie physical comedy.

The scheme: put on the worst flop imaginable and when it closes virtually after opening night the two scammers snare riches: the investments they don't have to return. But if the show is a hit...

The producers' vehicle, "Springtime for Hitler," both brought audiences to a new level of appreciation for the malleable, creative power of film made some viewers genuinely nervous, even upset.

Following Steve Allen's observation that a formula for comedy based on history is Tragedy+Time, director Mel Brooks brought to the screen, less than a quarter century after World War II ended, Dick Shawn as a campy fuehrer surrounded by the Nazi counterpart of the Rockettes. And Max and Leo are clearly Jewish in character if not so openly identified.

Kenneth Mars grabs laughs as the author of "Springtime for Hitler," an unreconstructed, Hitler-adoring flake who raises pigeons on the roof of a Manhattan tenement while accoutered in the odd leftovers of Wehrmacht uniforms.

When I fitted in seeing "The Producers" in its opening week I sat in the middle of an audience that was, to a certain extent, as befuddled as the film's playgoers watching the first part of the intended-to-outrage musical comedy about the Third Reich. Not only were SS uniforms, swastikas and photos of Hitler on the "stage" but the movie theater audience also digested, perhaps for the first time, a send-up of an uproarious gay couple, two real queens. One is effeminate to the core, the other is a cross-dresser (and a faultlessly garish one at that). This kind of stuff hadn't been done before in a Hollywood flick.

1968's audience had many who well-remembered World War II and some had fought in the conflict. I knew people who admitted feeling that the horrific global battle against Hitler had been trivialized by Brooks and his extroverted cast - until they could no longer hold back guffaws that segued rapidly into uncontrolled laughter.

That "The Producers" is also now a runaway Broadway hit is no surprise and I'd love to see a DVD release with Lane and Broderick. However fine they would be, it's the original that broke barriers.

The DVD has a number of worthwhile features including a fascinating "Making of..." segment. Peter Seller's short, famous encomium is read and there are the usual other additions. An outtake presenting an alternative blow-up of the "Springtime for Hitler" theater is interesting, largely because it shows how perceptive Brooks was in scrapping it for the shorter scene actually used.

"The Producers" is, in some ways, a subversive movie. Without stridently proclaiming a new aesthetic, it is exactly that and so it's a timeless classic. This is not satire about Nazism, Hitler and the Third Reich. It's treating as suitable material for slapstick and quick gags the detritus of an evil time.

But it's also a bit dated, no subject is taboo today for comedic treatment, and many who see it for the first time (as my teenage son did tonight) will enjoy the movie without getting the full impact of its assault on conventionality.

Is there any historical topic that will not, in the passage of time, be employed for pure comedy? Is it possible that the next generation will laugh at a comedy parodying Auschwitz? I hope not but I also can't be sure.

Many years ago I refused to watch "Hogan's Heroes" on TV because I personally knew former U.S. POWs. But that show, with Werner Klemperer as Colonel Klink, was very popular. "Hogan's Heroes" was to TV what "The Producers" was, and is, to film. And both made a mark that will be emulated as future generations go beyond satire to humorous treatment of matters most today consider beyond the pale of acceptability as a vehicle for laughs.

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Mel Brooks' Masterpiece
CHARLIE-896 February 1999
THE PRODUCERS might just be the funniest film ever made. It stars Zero Mostel, as a bankrupt Broadway producer, and Gene Wilder, as his emotionally-retarded accountant. Together, they figure that they could actually make more money producing a flop than a hit, so they become producers and put on "Springtime for Hitler," a sure-fire flop. However, things go horribly "right," and soon the producers find themselves in a tight spot trying to repay their investors. It is not the flop they hoped for, and they wind up in jail, with a hilarious finale.

This is Mel Brooks' masterpiece. Brooks' won an Oscar for Best Screenplay-1968-no surprise,as this is as funny a film ever to be made! The song should've won an Oscar, as it is one of the most hilarious tunes to come out of any movie.
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This Quotable Classic is Still One of Mel Brooks' Very Best
dtb18 April 2007
I know more people who quote lines from THE PRODUCERS than from Shakespeare; make of that what you will! :-) That said, people seem to either love it or hate it, but most folks I know agree this nutzoid farce has, to quote groovy LSD (delightful Dick Shawn), "Love Power!" Writer/director Mel Brooks' insanely zany yet strangely sweet tale of down-on-his-luck Broadway producer Max Bialystock (the great Zero Mostel, who should have been nominated for an Oscar himself) who uses his powers of persuasion (and wheedling, and bellowing, and conning :-) to convince meek accountant Leo Bloom (justifiably Oscar-nominated Gene Wilder) to help him make a surefire Broadway flop that, if their nutty book-cooking scheme works, will land them in Rio -- or, if it doesn't work, Sing Sing. This screamingly funny, no-holds-barred comedy won Mel Brooks an Oscar for Best Screenplay and put the former YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS writer on the map as a filmmaker. Anyone trying to make a comedy depending on controversy and questionable taste for its laughs should watch THE PRODUCERS first and see how a master does it! For that matter, Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder ought to watch it again themselves; after the duds they were churning out for a while there, maybe they need a refresher course in how to be funny. (Hell, it might be as simple as them teaming up again; Wilder seemed able to temper Brooks's mania for poo-poo humor and Brooks seemed able to help Wilder to better balance out his trademark blend of shrill hysteria and sweetness.) Much as my family and I also loved the Broadway and film editions of the musical version co-written by Brooks and Thomas Meehan and starring the incomparable Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick (even though I felt that Broderick wasn't quite as good as Leo Bloom as Lane was as Max Bialystock. That said, together they have great buddy chemistry), the original is still the champ.
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"Bad taste is simply saying the truth before it should be said." -Mel Brooks
jzappa13 October 2010
In 21st Century America, the one feature of The Producers that astounds even today is the boisterous, exaggerated, confrontational impulsiveness of its two lead performances. But in 1968, the film's content was like a suicide bombing of the audience's idea of good manners. There's such greed in its heroes, such merry deceit, such eagerness to concede every ethic, that the 1968 audience just had to surrender, stick with it. How did Brooks get away with that? By proving the dishonorable struggle of both lead characters at the start, by casting them with actors you couldn't help liking. Mostel's Max Bialystock is a man whose yearnings are so measureless they exonerate his voracity. There's a scene where he rubs his grubby office window with coffee, peeps through the dirt, sees a white Rolls-Royce and shouts, "That's it, baby! When you've got it, flaunt it!" You can drink a tall glass of his gluttonous self-indulgence. "Look at me now! I'm wearing a cardboard belt!" It's characteristic of this movie that after he says the line, he rips off the belt, tears it to smithereens.

Mostel, a distinguished thespian, blacklist foil, and academic, here gives a tour de force of low comedy. Regardless of a comb-over that starts just above his clavicle, he propels buoyant egotism, spitting on his hand to slick back his hair before an elderly female investor enters for her weekly frolic. What Mostel propels in particular is unreserved self-assurance. He never has doubts. Maybe he never thinks at all, just simply carries on out of evolutionary necessity.

Wilder was a fresh mug in 1968, familiarized to audiences with a significant supporting role in Bonnie and Clyde a year before, also as a rather hysterical character. His performance in The Producers is a tinge short of cardiac arrest. On the floor with Mostel over him, he shrieks, "Don't jump! Don't jump!" Mostel begins to leap in a flurry. "I'm hysterical! I'm hysterical!" Mostel pours a glass of water and chucks it in his face. Wilder serves a perfect line: "I'm wet! I'm hysterical, and I'm wet! I'm in pain, and I'm wet, and I'm still hysterical!" Gene and Zero reel on the floor so violently we expect them to chew on one another. Mostel's so overexcited and feral, Wilder so flustered and frantic, you marvel that slobber didn't get on the camera lens. The entire movie's toned on that plane of turbulent anxiety. One of the delights of watching it is to see how the actors are able to manage timing and distinctions even while shrieking. Timing is in the hands of actors, but without scripts, there would be loads of tedious improvisation. Good timing in the written words is the gateway to good timing on screen. I'm sure we'd be surprised at how snappish the dialogue seems on the page. But Brooks, a veteran nightclub act himself, leaves space for delivery while simultaneously working economically with form. Characters repeat the last thing another character said to extend the laugh. Characteristic of Brooks, that's often what causes the laugh. Language is ecstasy to him.

Kenneth Mars is a militant live-action cartoon, up on the roof with his pigeons, singing Nazi songs, later commanding an audience member to stop laughing because "I am the author! I outrank you!" Brooks includes gay jokes, with the ostentatious couple of Broadway director Roger De Bris and his right-hand Carmen Giya. At one point Max, Leo and Carmen crowd into a teeny elevator, and are ejected breathless and ill-at-ease. Heterosexuality's epitomized by the nubile Lee Meredith, as Ulla, the voluptuous secretary, who types one letter at a time then stops for a pat-on-the-back smile. The other terrific performance is by Dick Shawn as the actor who plays Hitler. In a movie made at the pinnacle of the hipster era, he's a hippie comprised out of archetypal junk scraps, with his finger cymbals, soup can necklace and knee-high shag boots.

To produce a musical named Springtime for Hitler is naturally in the worst achievable taste, as an exiting audience member remarks in the movie, to the glee of Bialystock and Bloom, who're depending upon precisely that response. To make a movie about such a musical was also in bad taste, apparently. It's clear that Bialystock and Bloom are Jewish, but they never touch on that. As Franz Liebkind rages, they nod, because the more repugnant he is, the more liable his play will fail. Brooks throws in merely one brief flash to indicate their personal feelings. As the two men walk away from the playwright's apartment, Bloom covers the red-and-black Nazi armband Franz has given him. "All right, take off the armband," says Bialystock, taking off his own. They throw both armbands into a garbage can and spit in it.

Whilst jabbing at the troubles of Broadway, Brooks' directorial debut's concerned with two overtly Jewish characters who are, in the best tradition of Jewish comedy, doomed to failure, in a film steaming with conflict on every level. Whilst there may be a prominently Jewish-American sensibility about Brooks' work, it's a feature that he's chosen to leave out after this film, apart from the Yiddish Native American chief in Blazing Saddles, the metal detector scene in High Anxiety, occasional comments in To Be or Not To Be and the fictitious trailer for Jews in Space in History of the World Part I. But what he's maintained, and what I feel---having grown up in a family of Brooks fanatics---is what makes a particular generation enjoy him so insatiably, is a pure audacity, mischievous delight, eagerness to leap any bound for a laugh. They'll say, "Ah, comedy today's all eff this, eff that, fart on this, have sex with that. It's all bad taste." And I say, look at your boy Mel. He knows better than any of them: Bad taste can taste the best.
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A gay romp through a great film
nigel-bourne17 September 2002
This is a marvellous piece - a combination of utter farce, black humour, Jewish schtick and high camp, "The Producers" remains a truly wonderful film.

From the opening sequences, where Theatre agent Max is a despairing old fool trying to avoid tax, through the "little old lady seduction" scenes, to the gorgeous rooftop scene where a mad German pigeon fancier tries to remain within the bounds of sanity and fails, via the meeting with "top" Hollywood director Roger" we're not alone" de Bris, the film traces the hapless and eponymous producers who devise a foolproof scheme to make money out of a flop. They employ a Nazi writer to script the musical "Springtime for Hitler", which is guaranteed to be a flopperoony. Of course, they manage to totally miss the mood of the day and the projected flop is a huge hit - whereupon they have to pay back the 16,000 percent of the cost that they acquired....

Wild, manic, joyous and deeply perceptive, this is Mel Brooks at his finest - Jewish gags abound, but never alienate, accountants get the mickey taken (cheers all round!) and the final production - well, if you haven't seen this film, where have you been living? One of the greats.
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A Classic!
doned886 August 2002
This is a classic film with wonderful performances all around (although I didn't take to Dick Shawn's as much as the others). Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder were perfect casting as was Christopher Hewitt (later to be known as TV's "Mr. Belvedere"). What's even more impressive are the various elements of truth that are beneath the histerical if not obsurbed storyline. The current Broadway hit doesn't compete with this film. The performances are good on stage but not as wonderful as here. Due to long term business problems this film wasn't released for home video and cable until much later then it should have been. Outright broad comedy and silliness belong in our daily lives and this film offers them very well. EVERYONE should see this film!
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More than capable of producing laughter
sme_no_densetsu19 January 2008
I initially had low expectations for this movie, having not been wowed by the other Mel Brooks films that I'd seen up to that time. This one, however, did live up to Brooks's reputation as a comedy legend.

The cast of characters and the actors portraying them are quite distinctive and memorable. Zero is pitch-perfect as the mildly devious Max Bialystock and Gene Wilder is ideal as his straight man sidekick, Leo Bloom. The supporting cast is exceptional as well, with memorable performances from Kenneth Mars, Dick Shawn & Christopher Hewett.

The script isn't filled with meaningless gags but rather with comedy that's built upon characterization and plot. Sure, some of the comedy may be dated (particularly LSD's mannerisms) but it's all entertaining nonetheless. I really enjoyed the plot, particularly the ending.

If I had one complaint it would be that the comparatively small amount of music left me wishing for more. The production's main theme alone is worth the price of admission.

I haven't seen the recent remake but it would have to be awfully good to be an improvement on this. Stick to the original and you won't be disappointed.
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A bittersweet comedy
dimplet14 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The Producers is the most bittersweet of comedies.

The year is 1968, 23 years after the end of World War II. The scene is New York City, where countless Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany and Europe, survivors of Nazi concentration camps like Auschwitz, and relatives who have lost family to the Holocaust, live. The horrors of the Holocaust can never be forgotten by those whom it touched in any way, but for those who stared evil in the face and lived, survival eventually becomes a celebration of life.

By turning the Nazi Holocaust into a joke, Mel Brooks, Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, all Jewish, of course, are thumbing their nose at Hitler, saying, We're alive, and you're not! Such black humor has a long tradition in Judaism, a way to maintain sanity in a hateful, irrational world. And it has precedent in the 1942 Ernst Lubitsch film To Be Or Not To Be, starring Jack Benny.

The element of celebration of life gradually comes out in The Producers as Zero teaches Wilder to relax, be happy and live a little, such as the scene in Central Park in the boat. Wilder says as much in his statement to the jury during sentencing. The little old ladies are hardly complaining, either.

Yet if you think too hard about the story line, and really understand the history behind this, it can bring tears to your eyes. How can the sadistic, evil murders of more than 6 million Jews, and millions of others, at the hands of brutal Nazi monsters not?

But Mel Brooks is saying, It's finally time to let go. He is also making an outrageously funny movie. Brooks appears briefly in the film as one of the dancers, with the line: "Don't be stupid, be a smarty, come and join the Nazi Party!" It reduces Nazism down to its most banal essence.

This was Mel Brooks' first film, seemingly coming out of nowhere. But he had been one of Sid Caesar's main writers in the early days of live television, so he knew what worked in comedy.

If you look at a list of comedies from 1968, Funny Girl, I Love You, Alice B. Toklas, Inspector Clouseau, The Odd Couple, The Party, not to mention Disney's Blackbeard's Ghost, it becomes more apparent how radical The Producers was for its time.

Hello, Dolly! was to come out the next year, and fall flat. The Producers was something of a flop, itself, but at a cost of less than $1 million to produce, not too great a disaster. The studio didn't even bother to release it in the American South, given its ethnic humor and the Baptist lack of humor, so much of the country didn't even hear of the movie until decades later, with its re-release on video, and with the remake and Broadway musical.

In the interim, when I would occasionally try to explain the movie's premise, and how funny the song and dance number, Springtime for Hitler, was, people would give me a look of pity like I had lost my mind. I gather there are still some people who don't get the joke.

To appreciate The Producers, you've got to watch it, and watch closely; listening is not enough. So much of the humor is in the expressions, of Zero especially, the absurd situations, and the details, like the tacky costumes in Springtime for Hitler. By today's standards, I suppose The Producers might seem tame to younger viewers used to shock jocks. Yet The Producers somehow accomplishes the rare feat of being funny the second time you watch it, and the third and fourth and ....

Thinking about the family I never met that died at the hands of the Nazis, of the people I've known that survived the concentration camps, of the infinite suffering multiplied by millions, always brings tears to my eyes.

But The Producers brings a smile to my face just thinking about it. And for a movie about the Nazi Third Reich, that is a remarkable feat. For that, I say thank you, Mel Brooks!
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Unique and funny film
theaz_man30 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Although I saw this film after seeing some of Brook's bigger works, such as Blazing Saddles and Spaceballs, I still found this very funny and entertaining. It's hard to fault the antagonistic partnership of the two main characters, and are played so well. The actor who played Hitler in the show was so bizarre that it worked much like the play 'springtime for Hitler' was to the audience I presume! The only character I thought was unnecessary, was the babbling 'old-school' Nazi, but you could argue that he was necessary for the plot to move forward.

Overall, great light-hearted fun.
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One of the Funniest Films of the Last 35 Years
eibon0916 August 2001
The Producers(1968) has three things that make it a pleasurably funny film. One, the humorous interreactions between Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel. Two, the film's memorable and unforgettable "Springtime for Hitler" musical number. Three, the energetic and fresh style of the filmmaker, Mel Brooks.

Mel Brooks does a fantastic job in his masterful film debut as film director. Blends the crude humor of Blazing Saddles(1974) with the subtleness of Young Frankenstein(1974). Brooks's direction is daring and isn't afraid to use material that might be a little risque. I believe Mel Brooks direction in The Producers(1968) is excellent and surpassed only by his more mature direction for Young Frankenstein(1974).

The screenplay is terrificly good for a comedy of this kind. Perhaps the best written film by Mel Brooks in his directorial career. Boasts some original lines of dialogue and strange situations. The film's screenplay received an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay(too bad The Producers[1968] wasn't considered for Best Picture or Best Director).

Gene Wilder was the best alter ego as actor to Mel Brooks as director. He was in the director's three top films and that is no accident because Gene Wilder always added more laughs to the films of Mel Brooks in which he was in. The Mel Brooks pictures where Gene Wilder wasn't in lose a lot with the lack of his presence. In my opinion Gene Wilder worked with Mel Brooks in a way the director has not worked with anyone before or since.

The characters of Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder are opposites in personalities yet they make a perfect duo. The two leads give brilliant performances in their roles of Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom. Two is a number that plays an important role in many of the Mel Brooks films. In his films there is a leader and an assistent whose plans never work as originally envisioned.

A satire on planned failure and unintentional success that was daring for its time. Deals with how a bad or below average product can be popular due to good fortune. In the film, Max and Leo attempt to produce a failure on Boardway to collect the insurance. To their chargin the play becomes a big time success.

The main idea of the story was eeriely prophetic because today there are many lousy films that are big box office successes. The Producers(1968) message was that people will go to see anything even if the product isn't very good or excellent. Its funny to see how truthful The Producers(1968) was in portraying a certain element of human nature. To see films like Blair Witch Project(1999) or other lousy big hit films become successes shows that The Producers(1968) in one way was ahead of its time.

I have no intention of watching the Boardway play based on the film for several reasons. One, the actors in the play do not bring the same type of humor or style of Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. Two, the story worked much better when written during the late 1960s. Three, anything that has been inspired from film into Boardway usually turns out to be not very good at all.

Kenneth Mars rounds out the main cast in a hilarious turn as Franz Liebkind. One of the best sequences is when Max flirts with old women to get their money. The final scene is another brilliant moment in The Producers(1968). The set designs are beautifully constructed and visually depicted.

William Hickly makes an obscure appearence in a film before his breakthrough role in Prizzi's Honor(1985). The Producers(1968) is Mel Brooks at his best and most enthusiastic. I can tell the film was made in the late 1960s because of the manners and style of the characters. A classic comedy made at a time when the cinema took chances and weren't afraid to use its artistic freedom to the fullest extent.
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Laugh-Out-Loud Funny Stuff
jhclues12 September 2000
How can a Broadway producer who has seen his day really make a lot of money? Leave it to writer/director Mel Brooks to answer that, and answer it he does in the uproarious comedy `The Producers.' Zero Mostel stars as the producer in question, one Max Bialystock, with Gene Wilder co-starring as Leo Bloom, the meek accountant who steers Max onto the path to instant riches with a scheme that (in Max's hands) simply can't fail. With Leo on board as his new partner, Max embarks upon a search for the perfect script, the first step of the plan that will lead them to the pot of gold at the end of the Great White Way. And with Brooks at the helm, it's the beginning of a laugh-filled movie that gets funnier every time you see it. Mostel is perfect as the unflappable Max, the charlatan who woos a string of old ladies into becoming investors in his show; his personality and countenance match the broad approach Brooks takes with his comedy, and it's a fit made in comedic heaven. Wilder, however, nearly steals the show with his terrific, definitive `long' takes and sideward glances that have served him so well during his career. Here, in one of his first screen appearances, he works it perfectly, creating just the right counter-balance to Mostel's boldness, and it makes Leo a truly memorable character. Visually, there is enough in this film to generate plenty of laughs, but that it's delivered with wonderfully witty and clever dialogue as well (the screenplay earned Brooks an Oscar), makes it a true classic in anybody's book. Also unforgettable here are Kenneth Mars, as Franz Liebkind, author of the play that Max and Leo undertake to produce; Christopher Hewett, as Roger De Bris; and especially Dick Shawn, as Lorenzo Saint DuBois (`L.S.D.' to his friends), who becomes the star of Max and Leo's production. Rounding out the great supporting cast are Estelle Winwood (`Hold me, touch me' old lady), Lee Meredith (Ulla), Renee Taylor (Eva Braun), Andreas Voutsinas (Carmen Giya), and William Hickey (Good Natured Inebriate). `The Producers' is every bit as funny now as when it debuted in 1968, maybe even funnier; it proves that good comedy is timeless, and this is comedy at it's best. This is a must-see, not only for Mel Brooks' fans, but for anyone who just likes lots of good laughs. Believe me, this is one funny movie you're going to want to see again and again. I rate this one 9/10.
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A little bit disappointed
elinlin23 April 2018
From what I have heard about it I was a little disappointed with this Mel Brooks creation. The movie has aged poorley, with many jokes that aren't funny. It's often slow and draged out, but the jokes that do work almost makes up for it. The best thing about it is the general plot idea and the climax. Overall, the movie was okay and interesting to watch but it's lacking something.
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funkyfry27 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Zero Mostel blew me away in this film (even though I've seen enough of his work that I shoulda seen it comin'!), which I think is the best Mel Brooks film that I've seen. He manages to make Max one of those classic "lovable scoundrels" while at the same time providing a plausible mentor for Gene Wilder's Leo, a young accountant who Max cajoles and corrupts into joining his scheme to produce Broadway's biggest ever flop. Along the road from profitable failure to disastrous success, Leo emerges from the shell of his insecure conservatism to become a jaded -- and free-spirited -- fellow manipulator.

Although the film often feels somewhat "stage-bound", I'd still argue that it's the most cinematic project I've seen from Brooks. That's partly because here he isn't spoofing a particular genre and adopting its visual style, but mostly because of the greater depth and resonance of the characters. I especially enjoyed the "seduction" scene with Mostel and wilder at the big Parisian-styled fountain -- I felt the magic of cinema there in a way that I've never really felt with a Brooks movie before. I felt myself really wishing I could see this in the theater with a bunch of other people instead of at home on DVD with my girlfriend.

At times the humor is a bit obvious, leaning as Brooks often does on simple puns. But the characters -- including supporting ones like Dick Shawn's wasted hippie "L.S.D.", Kenneth Mars' suitably overstated Nazi playwright, and Estelle Winwood as a violently lusty crone -- keep things moving pleasantly. The performances are good and the dialog unusually subtle for any comedy.

I felt the conclusion was a little bit of a letdown, even if it was just Brooks being self-reflexive on the obvious nature of dramatic resolution (courtroom scenes are the very definition of "obligatory"). But the way the play itself unfolded, though again perhaps a bit too fast and obvious, provides an insightful and humorous view of the subjectivity of the artistic experience in general.

An excellent film, featuring Zero Mostel at the peak of his considerable genius and Brooks at his most restrained and human.
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Brooks' earliest and arguably his finest
TheNorthernMonkee2 June 2004
Warning: Spoilers

Mel Brooks is a legend. At least he used to be. Whilst writing a lot of classic films throughout his career, Brooks was awesome. With "The Producers", "Silent Movie", "Blazing Saddles", "Young Frankenstein" and others, Brooks created a collection of some of the finest spoof/comedy collections of all time. The 1990's were considerably more cruel on Brooks however. With the very average "Life Stinks" Brooks began on a downward spiral and this was only confirmed more with "Robin Hood: Men In Tights" and "Dracula: Dead And Loving It". Whilst these two films at the end both featured the gorgeous Amy Yasbeth, the scripts were hideous. With these three films under his belt then, it seems of little surprise that Brooks would retreat to his first (and arguably his finest) success, "The Producers".

In this film, we are introduced to Max Bialystock (the superb late Zero Mostel), a washed up Broadway Producer who is forced to fraternise with old ladies as an attempt to get their investment in his plays. Entering into Bialystock's life is Leo Bloom (the God that is Gene Wilder), a nervous wreck of an accountant who retreats to his blue security blanket, the second he is placed in peril. Together they team up to produce a Broadway flop, since a flop makes more money when the particular scenario is right. Will Bloom & Bialystock succeed and make their fortune? Or will they screw up in mammoth proportions and end up in prison? This is Mel Brooks, it's obvious which of the two options is more likely!

Whilst I confess to never seeing Brooks' recent theatrical remake of this film (the problem with plays being limited to America), I must have seen this original piece countless times. Whilst I confess that nowadays it feels slightly dated, it remains hilarious and remains wonderful to this day. In Nostel and Wilder, there is a perfect partnership of the brash loud mouth and the quiet withdrawn type. Added to the main partnership are a superb supporting cast of Kenneth Mars, Dick Shawn and others. Mars in-particular as the eccentric Nazi writer of "Springtime For Hitler", the duo's chosen play, is hilarious in his extremeness.

There's not much more to be said really. "The Producers" remains one of Brooks' finest pieces of work, and I pray that the film remake (based on the theatre production) is going to be acceptable. Ultimately though, even if that remake is dire, lets not take away from the original. This film is a beautiful piece of comedy and if you haven't seen it yet, then get yourself to the video store straight away.
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A movie that rises below vulgarity
Hairy_Lime23 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is one loud, obnoxious, vulgar movie. And oh yes, funny. Very, cynically, deeply misanthropically funny.

So how do you critique a movie like this one? I guess you start by noting that the acting starts out over the top, and goes from there. And the script thinks that human weakness, greed, and lust are uproariously funny. Which, in the right hands, they are. And Mel Brooks's hands are the right ones.

The movie makes great fun of pretty much everything - Broadway, Nazis, Old ladies, sex, gays, theater critics, Swedish models, Franz Kafka (not quite bad enough!), you name it, with gleeful abandon.
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They never made a funnier more inventive movie!!!
inframan25 January 2000
It's hard to believe that 32 years have passed since this movie came out, it seems so fresh & original today, but then nothing that has been made since comes anywhere close. The situations, the characters, the performances and... oh those lines ("I'm wearing a cardboard belt!" "Shut up! I'm having a rhetorical conversation." "Come in, Mr Tact!" "Max, he's wearing a dress." "You will be quiet! I outrank you: you are the audience, I am the author." "White white white is the color of our carpets!" "Max, you can't kill the actors, they're human beings! Oh yeah, have you ever eaten with one?) Well, maybe you have to see the movie. And you should! Many many times!!!
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An amusing gem that works despite not being hilarious
The_Void11 January 2005
I'm not a fan of Mel Brooks. At all. For a comedy director, I find him painfully unfunny and therefore very difficult to like. The Producers is often cited to be Brooks' best film, and for good reason; as it is. Although it never reaches the realms of hilarity, and quite a few of the gags aren't funny in the slightest, it's a breezy little comedy that's based around an amusing idea and is hard to dislike on the whole. The idea is that a Broadway producer can, in theory, make more money from a flop than he could from a hit. When accountant Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder) suggests that this could be the case, a plan forms in the mind of once great producer Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel), and we're on course for an amusing ride as the two set out to find the worst play ever written (a drama called "Springtime for Hitler" eventually wins out), and pull out all the stops to ensure it's a sure-fire Broadway flop!

Through a stark colour scheme and overacting from all concerned, Mel Brooks succeeds in creating a distinct comic-book style that lends the film a very comedic, and fun, edge that few films have succeeded in capturing adequately since. The cast helps this film enormously, with everyone giving hammy performances that help in creating the film's sense of fun. Brooks regular Gene Wilder is, of course, the star of the show despite not being the absolute central character. His performance is more subdued than Mostel's, but still very over the top. The play itself features a very tasteless, yet very amusing and catchy opening song that will no doubt be swirling around your head for days afterwards. The play itself is actually the funniest thing about the film, with most of the hilarity coming from the monumental miscasting of an Elvis impersonator-esquire character calling himself 'L.S.D.' (Dick Shawn) in the role of the fuhrer himself.

Overall, this is a very fun film. The sense of fun is carried throughout, even if the jokes don't always work. I can almost guarantee a good time from watching this movie and it's one that fans of this sort of film shouldn't go without seeing.
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How to succeed in show business without really trying
jotix1007 February 2006
Leave it to Leo Bloom to figure out the possibilities in having the worst show on Broadway, and yet, make a bundle by collecting a small fortune from innocent old ladies investing their savings in it. It's no wonder Max Bialystock jumps for joy upon hearing about how to really succeed in show business without really trying!

This 1968 version of Mel Brooks' "The Producers" is a much better film than the recent one unveiled at the end of 2005. We had watched the original movie some time ago and we thought it was quite funny. On second viewing though, some of the fun one had that first time, seems to have disappeared somehow. It seems inconceivable, but this time we found little to laugh about, although this version should have been the definite one because of the presence of Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder is far superior than the stars seen on the latest version.

Zero Mostel was a colossus in the New York stage. He was a man who could do anything at all and still give an honest performance to everything he did. It was Mr. Mostel's misfortune to have been blacklisted at a time where his career was at an all time high. When film work stopped, Mr. Mostel had the theater to go back. Who knows how far this actor would have gone if he hadn't been a victim of the McCarthym that ruined many lives.

Zero Mostel made a creation out of Max Bialystock. This was a man who had seen better days in his producing career days and now finds himself dodging his creditors because he doesn't have the money to pay his debts and has to rely in his stable of old ladies for living. Zero Mostel was the perfect man to play this larger than life character.

Gene Wilder, whose second film this is, showed from the beginning to be a genius in the movies. His Leo Bloom was an excellent creation and his chemistry with Zero Mostel seems to be real. The film owes a great deal of its success to Gene Wilder who acts as the straight man.

In supporting roles we see Kenneth Mars as the lunatic author of the musical. Christopher Hewett is the gay director who turns the material into a great musical. Lee Meredith makes Ulla fun to watch. Dick Shawn who plays Hitler, makes a good impression. Also some other faces in the cast, Estelle Winwood, Renee Taylor, William Hickey, Frank Campanella, Madelyn Cates, all New York based actors with long experience in the stage and screen.

Mel Brooks was going for laughs, and at times, he succeeds brilliantly.
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Quite possibly the funniest movie ever made.
sychonic1 May 2001
If you don't laugh at this movie, you might want to check your pulse, you may have expired. This is easily, far and away, with nobody else in the ball park, Mel Brooks' most hilarious movie. The cast is cast perfectly, script ditto, and the production perfect.

The first time you see this movie will always be the best, I nearly fell out of my chair, literally.
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Mel Brooks' directorial debut!
Captain_Couth27 August 2005
The Producers (1968) was the first film that Mel Brooks directed. It was a critical smash as well. Gene Wilder stars as a accountant to a Broadway producer (Zero Mostel). Whilst going over his books, he noticed that his productions that bombed actually made money instead of the successful ones. Mostel has an idea, what if he makes a Broadway play that is such a disaster that it only receives one run. He needs two things in order for this plan to go into effect. One, he has to sway Wilder to his side and two, he needs to have a huge amount of investors.

Whilst Wilder fixes the numbers, Mostel goes out to all of his elderly female clients whom he swoons with his charm as they write out checks for him to invest in his play. He over sells shares into the play, so when it bombs he doesn't have to pay them back and pockets the money. Now only one question remains, what kind of production will they do that'll be so awful that it'll play once and never again? How will these "Producers" be able to pull off this ingenious scheme? To find out you'll just have to watch THE PRODUCERS!!! Co-stars Kenneth Mars and Dick Shawn as Lionel Saint Du Bois (L.S.D.).

Highly recommended.
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