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The Producers (SE)
DVD disk
10.07.2004 By: Scott Weinberg
The Producers (SE) order
Director:
Mel Brooks

Actors:
Zero Mostel
Gene Wilder
Kenneth Mars

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A conniving Broadway producer and his meek accountant devise a brilliant scheme to bilk their investors out of a fortune…all they have to do is bring to the Broadway stage a guaranteed flop. Easier said than done.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Widely embraced as one of the funniest American comedies ever made, THE PRODUCERS is an all-out laugh riot. (Forgive me for using such a trite phrase as “laugh riot” but that term has never been more accurate than in this case.) Auspicious debut of comedy god Mel Brooks (six years before he’d unleash both YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN and BLAZING SADDLES in the same year), this film is a textbook example of how ‘questionable material’ can be mined acutely and effectively – all you need is four or five hilariously gifted filmmakers.

Though the plot itself is a humorous concept, it’s the staggeringly funny chemistry between the leads that elevates this movie into its well-deserved classic status. Zero Mostel is all blustery and devious frustration as licentious producer Max Bialystock, while a young and genial Gene Wilder proves his perfect foil as his idealistic and meek accountant. Dick Shawn offers a manic turn as “L.S.D.”, quite possibly the world’s most unlikely leading man, while Kenneth Mars earns a lion’s share of the laughs as an insane playwright as well.

The movie culminates with “Springtime for Hitler”, the hopefully ill-fated production conceived by Bialystock and Bloom. Though it seems impossible to plumb humor from something involving Adolf Hitler, Brooks deftly tiptoes his way around ‘offendability’, delivering a brave and ballsy comedy that’s not nearly as controversial as one may think. (Sure, back in 1968 this flick may have seemed a bit incendiary, but the world’s a lot tougher to offend these days.)

If all you know of Mel Brooks is her latter-day trifles like SPACEBALLS, DRACULA: DEAD AND LOVING IT and ROBIN HOOD: MEN IN TIGHTS, do yourself a favor and give this old classic a shot. THE PRODUCERS easily earns a place beside both Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein fans of classic American comedy realize that’s high praise indeed.
THE EXTRAS
Though I was really hoping for a Brooks/Wilder audio commentary, there are a few sweet extras to keep fans happy. Clocking in at just over an hour is the excellent featurette The Making of the Producers. Brooks, Wilder, Mars, and several crew members drop by for some fond memories and stories about the film. I won’t spoil any of the surprises, but there’s some truly fascinating movie history offered within. Produced by DVD guru Laurent Bouzereau, this feature is worth the price of the DVD alone, but there’s more!

We’re also offered one outtake scene, the original theatrical trailer, a photo gallery and a sketch gallery. All in all, a healthy dose of goodies for a movie over 30 years old!
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
No amount of breathless praise does justice to a movie this funny. If you trust me on one "old movie" a year, let it be this one. If you’ve never seen this movie, you’re robbing yourself of some solid laughs.
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