Review for The Producers 50th Anniversary Edition
The Producers is one of the greatest comedies of all time.
I mean do I even need to tell you any more? It was the film that introduced us to the genius of Gene Wilder and put Mel Brooks on the map as one of the funniest screenwriters of the Twentieth Century. The plot is so simple and maybe that is why the film is timeless and a classic even so far as to be adapted by Brooks into a Broadway musical (long before it seemed like every Broadway musical was based on a movie) which also went on to have great success winning a record 12 Tony Awards.
Max Bialystock is a crooked Theatre Producer who along with his timid and over anxious associate Leo Bloom hit on a perfect plan: Produce a play that is doomed to flop by raising more finance than is actually needed. The money would then be assumed to have been lost. With this in mind, they begin to look for the worst play of all time and hit on the abysmal 'Springtime for Hitler' a musical about Hitler. It is a sure-fire failure. Or is it?
As I say, this is one of the greatest comedies of all time. I originally watched this film late one night about twenty years ago and found myself howling with laughter at everything. Twenty years later I am still laughing. The performances by Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder are just perfect and Wilder's 'Blue Blanket' freakout is still one of my most favourite scenes from a film.
Everything from the music, with the perfect 'Springtime for Hitler' song, the production and look of the film is amazing. It is surprising that this was Mel Brooks' first film as a Director, but as he explained in the Documentary 'I am the writer. I know what it all needs to look like.' Sometimes this is why Writer/Directors usually produce the best work. Over fifty years on the film still feels fresh and that Oscar-winning script is possibly one of the best that has ever been created.
If you have not seen the film then you are missing out. If you only know Mel Brooks from his spoof films like Blazing Saddles or Young Frankenstein you should check out this film to show that he could create a truly brilliant and original movie.
Extras includes a new Q&A with Mel Brooks. This is nice, but I feel this is far too short. Brooks is clearly still proud of the film and rightly so. The 'Making of The Producers' documentary from 2002 is a great thorough look at how the film was made and its reception. There are some fascinating stories from everyone involved. It is a shame that an up to date retrospective was not included possibly with fans of the film discussing their reaction to the film.
However, it covers all aspects of the film and great to watch.
Paul Mazursky reading Peter Sellars ad is a bizarre extra and really should have just been included in the main documentary when he tells the story of how Sellars came to watch the film. If I am honest I am not actually sure what Soundtrack Spoofs is. It seems to consist off just two minutes of people talking, but I have no idea what it is supposed to be? The new trailer is great
Sketch Gallery Slideshow looks at all the artwork created for set designs. This could have been better if they had included shot comparisons so that we could see what the sketches actually were of. The Deleted Scene of the Playhouse Outtakes is good, but I can see why it was deleted.
Also included is a behind the scenes look at Zero Mostel while he was filming A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum. Why is this included other than to show more about why Mostel is considered a genius? As the film was made before The Producers I expected some mention of it, but there isn't, unless I missed it.
The Producers feels like it was only released yesterday. There are very few films that stand the test of time, there are very few that you can laugh at the same thing every time you watch it. This is one of those films. I half expected that nostalgia would have got in the way when I revisited this film, but it didn't. If you want to watch a genuinely warm and hilarious film then I would recommend this to everyone. In fact I would recommend it to everyone anyway as this is a film that is sure never to flop.