The Producers (1968) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Is it possible that there is someone who doesn't know that this is the Mel Brooks show which single-handedly saved Broadway after 9/11? Perhaps you also know that it will soon be made into a movie with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. It was a movie once before, in 1968, starring Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder and Ken Mars.

It hasn't held up as well as Brooks's Blazing Saddles, which can still keep young audiences in stitches constantly. The Producers contains a lot of dead spots and altogether too much of the 1960s brand of slapstick seen on F Troop and Gilligan's Island - broad, unsubtle, overacted, overmilked, bloated physical schtick, at which Zero Mostel was the master. But the best parts are still sheer genius. The film contains so many comic gems that I still laugh when I watch them performed, even though I have the dialogue memorized.

For those three of you who have been living on a remote Pacific island, unaware that WW2 ended, The Producers is the story of a con man and an accountant who conceive of a brilliant get-rich-quick scheme. In theory, if a Broadway producer were to sell 10000% of a Broadway flop, nobody would care. Investors don't look to get money back from a play which closes the first night, and the IRS doesn't audit the books of obscure money losers.

There's only one hitch. The play must fail. If you raise 100 times as much as you need, and the play succeeds, you have to pay back 100 times what you earn, and will soon be headed to the greybar hotel.

The film thus centers around the search for and production of the worst play ever written, Springtime for Hitler, a love poem to the Fuhrer.

The title song of the play-within-a-film sums up the spirit of the film better than I could:

CHORUS:

Germany was having trouble
What a sad, sad story
Needed a new leader to restore
Its former glory
Where, oh, where was he?
Where could that man be?
We looked around and then we found
The man for you and me


LEAD TENOR STORMTROOPER:
And now it's...
Springtime for Hitler and Germany
Deutschland is happy and gay!
We're marching to a faster pace
Look out, here comes the master race!

Springtime for Hitler and Germany...
Winter for Poland and France


CHORUS AND STORMTROOPER:
Springtime for Hitler and Germany!
 

STORMTROOPER:
Come on, Germans
Go into your dance!


STORMTROOPER "ROLF":
I was born in Dusseldorf und that is why they call me Rolf.
STORMTROOPER "MEL":
Don't be stupid, be a smarty, come and join the Nazi party!

CHORUS:
Springtime for Hitler and Germany
Goose-step's the new step today

CHORUS MEN:
Bombs falling from the skies again
CHORUS:
Deutschland is on the rise again

CHORUS:
Springtime for Hitler and Germany
U-boats are sailing once more
Springtime for Hitler and Germany
ROGER:
Means that...
CHORUS:
Soon we'll be going...
ROGER:
We've got to be going...
CHORUS:
You know we'll be going....
ROGER:
You bet we'll be going...
ROGER & CHORUS:
You know we'll be going to war!!

DVD info from Amazon

  • Brand-new transfer

  • "Making of The Producers" documentary

  • Sketch gallery

  • Playhouse outtake

  • Photo gallery (40 still photos)

  • Peter Sellers' statement read by Paul Mazursky

  • Cast-recording spot

  • Full-screen and widescreen anamorphic formats

NUDITY REPORT

None.

Lee Meredith ("The Doll" from the old Mickey Spillane Miller Lite commercials) dances in a bikini

One chorus girl appears almost topless, save for pretzel-shaped spangles.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Roger Ebert says, "this is one of the funniest movies ever made"

  • Metacritic.com. 100/100. Right there beside Lawrence of Arabia and The Godfather.

The People Vote ...

  • It was made for less than a million dollars.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a B-. The old-fashioned Catskills performing style sometimes seems corny, but the script is still an enduring comedy classic which continues to charm new audiences every day on Broadway, more than 35 years after it was written, and Ken Mars turns in one of the funniest performances in film history. "Y mean Schpringtime fr y-know-who?"

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