The Producers Reviews
The plot is actually very clever, simple but clever, but the way each and every character is formed and played out by the terrific cast is the key to the films genius. The whole film is basically quite insane, loony even, Mostel is like a cartoon character as he transforms from cunning to charming on a dime, then U-turns with in your face rants. Wilder's meek, clever and paranoid performance compliments the odd couple duo, very much the new Laurel n Hardy of the time if you will.
Brooks favourite choice Kenneth Mars is again in a role that is quite memorable as the shell shocked loyal Nazi whose love letter to Hitler becomes a surprise hit. His performance like everyone else is quite loony and in my opinion better than his character from 'Young Frankenstein', yet not as amusing as the two star leads.
The film is off the wall and almost comes across as a feature length 'Monty Python' sketch with some of the best crazy characters ever created. What also works so well are the sets and costumes used, everything is really quite down to earth and of its time. There doesn't appear to be anything fancy used or any large amounts of money spend. Its simply a great example of a character/plot driven film which is purely relying on the genuine skills of its cast, possibly a touch of improvisation.
Unlike other Brooks films as its actually kinda sensible, totally over the top and in your face with outrageous acting, but its not an out right spoof. It also still holds up perfectly well to this day and doesn't seem dated in a comedy sense, obviously the costumes and Nazi aspect are getting on a bit these days.
Easily some of the wildest and most unconventional comedy (and hair!) you will have seen for a long time, and its genius.
To those who haven't seen "The Producers", it is the tale of an unstabble accountant and a greedy broadway producer who discover that they can make more money with a broadway flop than with a broadway success. They go out to see if they can pull this skeem off, but they end up releasing one of the biggest broadway hits in history. A fantastic story, very creative and filled with opportunities to laugh. And you know what? Not only does it take advantage of all the opportunities to laugh, it gets ones you wouldn't even think of as an audience.
Another thing we have to consider is that this was Mel Brooks first movie. No director makes a hit so successful as this on his first go. Anyone who saw this when it was first released had to have known that this man was destined for greatness in film. He didn`t go cheap on this movie either. He got a fantastic cast including Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel. And he didn`t just get a great cast for the leads, but the smaller characters in it really were what made the film. Especially the characters of the man who wrought the play and the lead actor in the play, L.S.B. I couldn`t stop laughing when those guys where on screen. And who could forget Mel Brooks first cameo in one of his own films; a single line he sings, `Don`t be stupid, be a smarty! Come and join the Nazi Party!`. Good times, good times!
As for Wilder and Mostel, they were at they`re very best. They were living charactures of things hat were already hilarious. From the first time these characters meet each other, the audience knows they are going to have a real treat by watching these guys. But with these characters, it wasn`t just how funny they were, you really loved them. You felt lucky to be able to spend 2 hours with such interesting people. They were the kind of characters that revolutionized comedy film making for the world! They werent afraid to go over the top with the way they acted. They really just wanted to give everyone some of the greatest laughs of their lives! They didnt use some of the cliches that we see in comedy today, they invented their own!
Sometimes, we watch a film and we we finish we realize silently that this film is going to change everything for this film industry, and then you immediatly watch the film over again. If you have not watched this film yet, then what the hell are you doing! GO SEE IT, YOU IDIOT!!!!
Maybe it's because this film is an oft-imitated classic, but I found much of the plot and gags to be predictable. Zero Mostel's performance was over-the-top, and even Gene Wilder occasionally abandoned his deadpan, "I'm in a room with a bunch of crazy people and I'm becoming one of them" demeanor to over-act as well.
I did enjoy a few moments: Wilder's "I'm hysterical, and I'm wet, and I'm in pain!" and "Springtime for Hitler" dance number.
Overall, I think if I were alive and watching this film in 1968, I would be raving about it.
This was quite a ballsy, audacious, and shocking film when it first came out. Some of that has lessened over time, but not a whole lot. This film is still rather strong at raising eyebrows, mostly because the audience wonders how such a story ever got made, especially because the play that gets put on is a comedy about Hitler.
The performances and casting are brilliant. Mostel and Wilder have great chemistry, and each is the true embodiment of his respective role. Kenneth Mars and Dick Shawn are also quite hilarious, as is the bulk of the film- which deals out heaps of ethnic and sexual orientation based humor, as well as some slapstick, farce, and just over the top nuttiness.
All of the shock value isn't for nothing though. This is a very smart film, and it's quite well made. Some of the specifics are dated, and a few of the jokes go on for a but too long, but this is nonetheless an amazing and hilarious film that is a really scathing satire that both entertains and promotes discussion.
The film does have its moments -- the Busby Berkeley-style musical number with the dancers forming a swastika is both shocking and hilarious, Mostel's scenes with the old lady investors are a scream, and Mostel and Wilder work well together -- but I just don't laugh at it like I think I should. Could be because it's terribly dated, and I'm not a fan of Dick Shawn's LSD character.
On the good side, it's a film I don't mind watching again and again, and it seems to get better every tiime I see it. And it's miles ahead of the totally unnecessary remake with Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane. When are people going to realize that remakes are to make mediocre films better, not turn good films into crap?
Screaming unfunny lines does not magically make them funny.
Hilarity ensues throughout The Producers with the opening sex games Mostel has to play with elderly women for checks to Kenneth Mars deranged portrayal as the writer of Springtime for Hitler. This is one of those classic comedies that doesn't get old and stands as the introduction of the wit of Mel Brooks.