The Producers (1967)

the producers movie poster 1968 mel brooks first film
9.5 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 9/10

Classic Mel Brooks that is different than some of his other works

Mel Brooks doesn't sit well with everyone

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Producers

Studio:  Embassy Pictures

Genre(s):  Comedy

Release Date(s):  November 22, 1967 (Premiere)/March 18, 1968 (US)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

producers 1968 blankie gene wilder zero mostel

Don’t touch my Blankie!!!!

Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) is a producer that isn’t good at his job and seduces elderly women for their money.  When Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder) realizes that Max can make more money if a play were to bomb and close, Max and Leo set out to make the worst play possible.  With tons of backers and a lot of money on the line, Max and Leo’s find a play by a former Nazi (Kenneth Mars), recruit a screw-loose director (Christopher Hewett), and cast a hippy star named L.S.D. (Dick Shawn) in the title role.  Springtime for Hitler is destine to fail…what could go wrong?

Written and directed by Mel Brooks, The Producers was originally released in November of 1967 before receiving a wide release in 1968.  The film is the fledgling film of Brooks and received critical acclaim.  The movie won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay with a nomination for Gene Wilder as Best Supporting Actor.  The film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 1996.

producers 1968 ulla dance lee meredith zero mostel gene wilder

Work, Ulla…WORK!!!

Mel Brooks is hit or miss for me.  When I love Mel Brooks, I love Mel Brooks, but if he pushes it too far, I think results are just ok.  The Producers is Mel Brooks firing on ever cylinder and showing his talent and stands along his other greats like Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein.

The story for The Producers is actually quite smart.  The idea of building a failing show and how to do that is a fun twist on a classic “strive for greatness” storyline.  Most movies about plays have the actors, directors, etc. facing insurmountable odds to succeed…here, everything is bet on failing and even trying so hard, they just can’t do it.  It is a great satire of the concept.

Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder are gold.  Between Mostel’s abusive womanizing and Wilder’s panic attacks, the two are a great balance.  They are also backed by a fun supporting cast with Dick Shawn as the hipster Lorenzo St. DuBois and Kenneth Mars as the Hitler loving “former” Nazi.  Mr. Belvedere aka Christopher Hewett steps out as the crossdressing Roger De Bris and you have to love the dancing Ulla played by Lee Meredith.

producers 1968 springtime for hitler musical number

Who doesn’t love dancing SS?

The Producers also looks great and is boosted by a final musical that is actually quite entertaining.  The idea that the audience would fall for a Hitler play isn’t very absurd, but how it all plays out is aided by the extremely catching “Springtime for Hitler” song which brings the laughs as well…Brooks’ editing and shooting style in this movie is a lot rawer despite the limited sets.

The Producers is a lot simpler than some of Mel Brooks’s films and in that sense a lot more attainable.  There is still “off-the-wall” humor, but the core story of the movie is much more structured than something like Blazing Saddles…nor is it a parody like Young Frankenstein.  The lasting success of The Producers led to a Broadway musical in 2001 and a film adaptation of the Broadway musical in 2005…but stick the original which is a true classic.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response