The Producers [Blu-Ray] Mel Brooks

The Producers [Blu-Ray] Mel Brooks
10
Having made the rare circular transition from film to Broadway musical and back again, it's safe to say that The Producers is the most successful comedy of all time. Riotously funny, daringly subversive and containing one of the cinema's great unlikely friendships, Mel Brooks's 1968 gift that keeps on giving is an inspired celebration of lunacy that hits its stride early and doesn't let up until the final credits. The exuberant Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) is a fading Broadway producer who bankrolls his plays by sleeping with wealthy old women. Into his office one day walks meek and rather aloof accountant Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder), who stumbles upon an inspired idea. He deduces that, if one were to raise more money for a show than needed, a flop could make more than a hit under the right circumstances. Seeking out the worst play imaginable, the two eventually settle on a musical titled Springtime For Hitler, written by unhinged ex-Nazi Franz Liebkind (Kenneth Mars). They then go about assembling a suitably awful cast and crew to mount their colossal failure, including a disastrous director (Christopher Hewett) and a fried hippie actor named L.S.D. (Dick Shawn), in the role of Hitler. To further complicate matters, there's the appearance of a flirtatious blonde from Sweden, Ulla (Lee Meredith). Brooks' screenplay is a witty and sublimely silly masterwork teeming with howling one-liners and expertly crafted comic banter. Mostel and Wilder are perfectly cast, using their contrasting personas to brilliant effect, continually uncovering unexplored facets of their blossoming relationship from which to wring laughs. It accumulates momentum until the inevitable train wreck of opening night, featuring the funniest musical moment ever captured on film — the garishly staged title number. The bonus material manages to cram every detail anyone could possibly want to know about the making of this classic into a couple of documentaries. The lengthier of the two is the highlight; it's an hour-long reflection on how everything came together from nearly every living principal person involved with the film. It's especially nice to see and hear from the reclusive Wilder, whose obvious affection for Brooks likely was the chief reason he agreed to be interviewed. There's also a great anecdote about how Peter Sellers was so ecstatic in his praise for the film that he took out an ad in Variety extolling its genius. This is especially ironic considering an interview with Brooks reveals that Sellers was the first choice for Bloom, but he failed to respond after initially agreeing to the part. (Shout! Factory)