Review: ‘The Producers’

Mel Brooks has turned a funny idea into a slapstick film, thanks to the performers, particularly Zero Mostel.

Mel Brooks has turned a funny idea into a slapstick film, thanks to the performers, particularly Zero Mostel.

Playing a Broadway producer of flops who survives (barely) by suckering little old ladies, he teams with an emotionally retarded accountant portrayed by Gene Wilder in a scheme to produce a flop. By selling 25,000% of production, they figure to be rich when it flops. For the twist, the musical comedy Springtime for Hitler, penned by a shell-shocked Nazi, is a smash.

The film is unmatched in the scenes featuring Mostel and Wilder alone together, and several episodes with other actors are truly rare. When the producers approach the most atrocious director on Broadway, they find Christopher Hewett in drag exchanging catty comments with his secretary (Andreas Voutsinas).

Estelle Winwood is a winner as a salacious little old lady, and Kenneth Mars has his moments as the Nazi scripter.

1968: Best Original Story & Screenplay.

Nomination: Best Supp. Actor (Gene Wilder)

The Producers

Production

Embassy. Director Mel Brooks; Producer Sidney Glazier; Screenplay Mel Brooks; Camera Joseph Coffey; Editor Ralph Rosenblum; Music John Morris; Art Director Charles Rosen

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1968. Running time: 100 MIN.

With

Zero Mostel Gene Wilder Kenneth Mars Estelle Winwood Dick Shawn Christopher Hewett

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