Friday, April 18, 2008

Classic Movie Review: "The Producers"

I am going to review the original The Producers, not the reinvented, musical The Producers that came out a few years ago. Why? Because the 1960s "Producers" is deemed a classic. The Matthew Broderick-Nathan Lane one? Not so much.

Of course, The Producers plot is now a familiar one: failing play producer Max Bialystock hooks up with neurotic accountant Leo Bloom to produce the world's largest flop. Because, naturally, a flop earns more money than a hit, if you tweak the books enough. A script sent from Heaven (or maybe Hell) falls into their hands, called Springtime for Hitler. It is written by a former German soldier and portends to tell the secret, nicer side of Hitler. Bialystock and Bloom turn it into a musical, with Hitler being played by a Hippie with the non-coincidental initials L.S.D. Of course, the play turns out to be a hit, because the audience views it as a comedy, not a serious endeavor.

The Producers was Mel Brooks first major movie. It is a little rough around the edges and there aren't really any punchlines, as many of the jokes come from reactions or actions. As such, we get a constant cycle of character reinforcements: Bialystock is a blowhard, Bloom is neurotic, the German writer is crazy, etc. It is funny, no doubt, but not hilarious. However, although the plot and ending are well known, the movie still entertains. Brooks gets a lot of kudos for this film and while it isn't his best (Blazing Saddles has to have that honor for combining humor and an excellent plot), it is definitely in his top 5. His later films (Spaceballs for example) are hilarious but not very meaty. The Producers is meaty but not that hilarious.

For fans of classic comedy, this movie is a definite must see. I want to point out that the reason why it might not be all that funny isn't because it doesn't age well (it does), but rather because of the points I made above. I guess I have to see the new edition of The Producers and see how much worse (or better) it is than the classic edition.

3 Little Old Ladies out of 5.

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Blogger David McIntyre said...

But Blazzing Saddles doesn't have an ending. A plot so meaty the film chokes and dies on it. I only give 3 1/2 farts out of 5.

11:33 AM  
Blogger Gonch In Goal said...

I can't disagree with that above comment, still a hilarious film. The Producers is about as plotty as it gets for Brooks

8:50 PM  
Blogger Adam Entertainment said...

Ah, but having a good plot and having an ending (or a good ending) don't necessarily mean the same thing.

Saddles' ending is such a ridicolous (and funny) ending because the entire movie is supposed to be a spoof of Westerns and then Brooks abandons what little subtlety he had and actually sets the movie in Hollywood.

4:49 PM  

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