The Teutonic book of laughs is a thin volume, and there’s one chapter that’s always missing: the one with jokes on Hitler and the Nazis.
So the German release of Mel Brooks‘ “The Producers” on March 16 does raise eyebrows.
The stage musical has not been performed in Germany. And Hitler-saluting dancers don’t sound like a good fit in a country where the recent creation of Berlin’s Holocaust memorial sparked heated national debate.
But first reactions to the film by the German press suggest the pic just might find auds willing to set aside old taboos — at least for 129 minutes.
“I loved it! I loved the angst-free humor,” says Susan Vahabzadeh, reviewer for the highbrow daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
“People were applauding after the press screening. That hardly ever happens,” says Matthias Schmidt, reviewer for Stern Magazine. ” Some said there should have been more scenes from the ‘Springtime for Hitler’ musical.”
The path for a Hitler-tinged musical comedy may have been eased by “Downfall,” the 2004 film that chronicled the Nazi leader’s last days and became the top-grossing Teuton film of all time.
” ‘Downfall’ has proven that the Germans are ready to face their past,” says Michael Marbach, head of Teuton distrib Constantin. “The market is very open to films that deal with Hitler. Obviously it all depends on whether the film is any good.”
But even if “The Producers” doesn’t break new ground in Germany, there’s a homegrown comedy that probably will.
Helmer Dani Levy and X-Filme Creative Pool, the creative combo behind the hit “Alles auf Zucker,” are in production on the laffer “Mein Fuehrer — die wirklich wahrste Wahrheit über Adolf Hitler” (My Fuhrer, The Really Truest Truth About Adolf Hitler).
“Humor is extremely subversive, and it offers ways of dealing with the monster that is always going to be part of the German psyche,” says X-Filme co-topper Maria Koepf. It’s about being able to laugh at your worst enemy and at the same time looking into the abyss of your own identity.”
OK, so Germans are ready to laugh about Hitler.
But are they ready for “The Producers’ ” Carmen Ghia?