The Producers (1968)
Only Mel Brooks could take a movie about praising Adolf Hitler and making it into one of the best comedies of all-time. If you loved Spaceballs, History of the World: Part I, and Blazing Saddles (Who didn’t?), you’ll love the film that actually came before them all: The Producers.
A failed Broadway director, Max Bialystock (played by the late Zero Mostel), is broke, and the accountants are coming to presumably clear him out. Leo Bloom, the nervous bookkeeper played by Gene Wilder, discovers that Bialystock’s financial reporting is flawed. A bunch of crap happens, and then Bialystock hatches a plan: they raise a ton of money, pick a horrible play, let it flop on opening night, and run away with the profit (for you see, they’d never have to repay the backers if it flopped).
Bloom reluctantly agrees, and Bialystock sets off screwing old ladies for dough (male prostitution in the ‘60s: you bet!). Bialystock sells 25000% percent of shares in the film, which panned out to about 2 million bills. From there, they read script submissions and settle on the flop of all flops: Springtime for Hitler, written by semi-latent expatriated Nazi and Deutschland über alles singer Franz Liebkind.
Bialystock and Bloom then hire an incompetent, unbelievably gay director and his boyfriend, and cast a hippie stoner as Hitler. For good measure, the producers attempt to bribe the reviewer and leave the theater during the opening number, assuming that the proverbial walls would come caving in. The opening number for Springtime for Hitler is funny and ridiculous, but the fictional audience is aghast. Just as people begin to leave (while the producers are raising a toast across the street to their failure), the spectacle of a toasted bum playing the Führer brings the whole crowd back, laughing.
The flop wasn’t a flop, and the movie ends a little slowly with the theater blowing up, trial and conviction of Bialystock and Bloom, and the Prisoners of Love crap. Didn’t make the final product any less funny.
The 1968 version is much, much better than that piece of crap that came out in 2005. Don’t get me wrong, Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, and Uma Thurman are fine actors, but it was far from the original. It wasn’t even 100% like the Broadway play, off of which it was based.
If you can’t laugh at this, it’s because you’re too afraid to laugh. Well cast, well written, and creative.
Mel Brooks is a friggin genius. I want him to make more of these movies into Broadway playsbefore…you know…he’s getting kinda old.