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.
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!