Review by Michael Jacobson
Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Kenneth Mars, Dick Shawn
Director: Mel Brooks
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Mono
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1, Full Frame 1.33:1
Features: See Review
Length: 90 Minutes
Release Date: December 13, 2005
don’t understand. I had the wrong
play, the wrong director, and the wrong cast…where did I go RIGHT??”
films take the place of real life experiences.
Most of what I learned about movie direction came from watching Francois
Truffaut’s Day For Night. And
all I know about producing a play came from Mel Brooks’ The Producers.
I have no way of knowing how accurate my assessments of those
professions are, but I watch those movies and can’t help but think that’s
more or less how they have to be.
Max Bialystock (Mostel)…once the master of an up and down profession, he’s
now firmly rooted in the down part, playing lovers’ games with little old
ladies to scrape together enough money to produce a new play! Success on Broadway is hard to come by, but failure is all
too easy. And that’s when Max’s
nebbish accountant Leo Bloom (Wilder) inadvertently hits upon a bizarre but
tempting idea: if you over-financed
a play that flopped, you could walk away with a fortune…that is, if you
were dishonest enough to do it. Max
is dishonest enough.
like a gleefully rabid Mephistopheles, Max convinces the nervous Leo to join in
with him on the scheme. All he
needs is a sure-fire flop of a play, which he finds in Springtime for Hitler (penned
as a love homage to the Fuhrer by a crazed Kenneth Mars), a terrible
director, and a horrible lead actor (Dick Shawn as the burned-out hippie LSD),
and it’s money in the bank!
offensive play, which features cheesy music and dance numbers, seems guaranteed
to close in one night, especially given the audience’s horrid reaction as it
begins on stage. But as Max and Leo
toast their success…er, failure, something unexpected happens.
The crowd actually roars to the antics of LSD’s “wow, man”
performance as Hitler. Max finally
has the smash hit he’s spent his life dreaming about…and it’s about to
land him and Leo in prison for fraud!
the story in a few simple strokes, but it’s one that’s made The Producers
one of Hollywood’s most beloved comedies for better than four decades now!
Mel Brooks made his directorial debut with this film, which he also
wrote, and it began a career of zany motion pictures for him.
Some have been classics, like Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein,
High Anxiety, some have been forgettable, like Robin Hood:
Men in Tights or Spaceballs, but movie fans have never
forgotten The Producers.
as a result, I, for one, have never pursued a theatrical career, for fear that
someday I too may have to play “the chauffeur and the contessa” with some
little old lady only known as “Hold Me, Touch Me”. First impressions are indeed the hardest to shake.
Brooks originally conceived The Producers as a play itself, but it was
rejected as being too improbable for the theatre.
Now that the Broadway version has become the most honored musical in
history, I’d say Mr. Brooks had the last laugh!
has long been reputed for the quality of their classic films
as presented on DVD, and The Producers is something of an apex.
This brightly colored transfer is pristine from start to finish, with
rich, intricate tones, crisp images, and remarkable levels of detail, all coming
from a print that you’d never believe was of a 40 plus year old movie! Even subtle shading differences are clearly rendered…note
when a red robe clad Max steps in front of a red curtain how clear both colors
are…no bleeding or distortions. This
is everything fans hoped for…possibly even more!
5.1 remix is welcome, though the nature of the film doesn’t call for much in
the way of bass or surround staging. Most
of the time, the rear stage is only occasionally accessed for ambience (crowd
noises and so on), and the subwoofer kicks in mainly for one explosive scene,
but the rest of the picture is dialogue oriented, and nicely presented.
Spoken words are clean and clear, and the musical score is lively.
I noticed little, if any, apparent background noise. For
purists, the mono track is also included.
You’ll find a terrific new (and lengthy)
making-of documentary, which includes brand new interviews with Mel Brooks, Gene
Wilder, Kenneth Mars and more…a terrific treat! There is also an outtake from the playhouse scene, galleries
of photos and sketches, trailers for this and other releases, plus a preview of
the new film based on the musical.