77 of 81 people found the following review helpful
This is it! The source, THE PRODUCERS, the 1968 release with screenplay and direction by Mel Brooks, juicy parts by Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Kenneth Mars and others, and a well-deserved reputation as one of the funniest movie comedies ever. Filmed on a pittance (less than $1 million, cheap even by Sixties standards), THE PRODUCERS almost died unrecognized until it became a cult hit in New York, L.A., Chicago and then, everywhere.
SPOILER GRAF: The plot is brilliantly diabolical: a corrupt Broadway producer (Zero Mostel) and his nebbishy accountant assistant (Gene Wilder) deliberately oversell a play with the design to create a flop and keep the proceeds. They hire the worst possible playwright, director, and choreographer and deliberately insult the drama critics. But the play is so hilariously awful it becomes awfully hilarious. The essence of 1960s camp: It's good because it's so bad.
It's hard to overstate just how good Mel Brooks' first movie is. The low budget forced a lot of outside shooting in New York City, and as a result the movie looks fresh, not cosmetized. The premise of a play about "Adolf and Eva in a gay romp at Berchtesgaden" was, if anything, more offensive just 23 years after the end of the Second World War than it is today. A big gamble on Brooks' part, but it played.
This edition is well worth the extra couple of dollars over the "movie only" version. It includes a second CD, apparently put together about the time of the 2001 Broadway musical, and contains stills, bios, and an engaging documentary about the film's making and reception. The last is especially fun since all the principals involved (except the late Zero Mostel) are alive and active and possessed of strong memories of that "kooky" classic-in-the-making.
The 2005 movie with Broadway vets Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick is proving a disappointment to those who remember the original movie or the 2001 Broadway smash. The new movie took the Broadway book and set it in an imagined-and expensive--"indeterminate past" full of late 1950s cars and fashions. Unfortunately, what works on the stage doesn't always translate on film, and despite all the talent and money involved, the new movie comes across as stagey, self-absorbed and at times a bit labored. And LONG: half again as long as this original, which clocks in right at an hour and a half.
The verdict: All versions of THE PRODUCERS are funny, but the 1968 movie is the one to start with. Enjoy it now at a great price.
61 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2006
CAUTION: MAJOR SPOILERS CONTAINED HEREIN...I have been a big fan of the original theatrical cut (circa 1968) for nearly 40 years. My biggest disappointment is that there is no video format that has ever kept that original vision intact. This classic comedy had been hacked up on network TV long before commercial video formats ever existed. By the time it was released to laserdisc, two terrific scenes were edited down or out (probably for reasons of pacing and flow). My personal feeling is THOSE SCENES WORKED BETTER left as originally conceived. The "INTERMISSION" sequence actually sets up the original ending for the film. Max buys the drunk at the bar his drink, makes a toast "TO TOAST", then ambles over to the jukebox. Max then invites Leo and the Drunk to sing-along
to "By The Light of the Silvery Moon". The truncated (video) version shows them already in the middle of the tune when the "Springtime" theater patrons rush in. Secondly, in the original version Franz stomps out "THE QUICK FUSE!" before the theater blows up. Perhaps Mel thought the scene played out funnier having the playhouse blow-up after their terrified screams. To me it doesn't. It is way too obvious and cliche. The original vision has Franz wiring the dynamite to the plunger box whereon the drunk from the bar completes the circuit, mistaking it for a shoe shine box. "OKAY BOYS", he declares. "SHINE 'EM UP"...KABOOM!!! This was unexpected and very very funny. I was hoping this new two disc release would restore the original vision of the film. Sadly it does not. I understand there is a deleted scene in this package. But the deleted scene was not deleted from the movie...it has been deleted from the video presentation. I agree with those individuals who balk at FORCED commercials, products or trailers on DVD. This is reprehensible. It ranks right up there with FORCED commercials in multiplex theaters. Last note: "THE PRODUCERS" is truly one of the funniest comedies ever made. If you have not seen it, rent or buy whichever release you can get. I hope the original theatrical presentation will be made available at some point in time for purists who hysterically (and quite literally) fell out of their seats back in 1968.
56 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2002
"The Producers", which has gained newfound fame due to the Musical Comedy that Mel Brooks created based on this, his first movie, is also the best thing Brooks has ever done. "Blazing Saddles" was a gag-a-minute take on the Western, and "Young Frankenstein" was Brooks' spoof on horror, but in "The Producers", Brooks' made something that was entirely his own: a madcap, hilarious, perfectly cast satire of life on the seedier side of Broadway.
The late, great Zero Mostel stars as Max Bilalystock, a former big-time Broadway producer who has been reduced to seducing old ladies for checks to fund flops. Into his sad life comes accountant Leo Bloom(Gene Wilder in the first of several Brooks' collaborations). Bloom is a nebbishly high-strung auditor who offhandedly mentions to Max that a producer could make more money from a flop than a hit. This launches one of the most hilarious movies ever made, as Bloom and Bialystock scheme to find the worst sript, worst director, and worst actors to make the most tasteless and awful play ever.
The humor here is some of Brooks' finest. He expertley skewers Broadway egos, Nazis's, and greed as he tells the tale of the production of "Springtime for Hitler", written by an ex-Nazi who still holds onto the idea that Hitler was a great man. What keeps it from becoming an offensive movie is that the play is so hopelessly miscast and directed that it is just a big joke, and the fact that the audience knows that the Nazi is being taken advantage of steers the film away from the dark aspects of that ideology and makes fun of everything Hitler was trying to create. Wilder shines as Bloom, in his first major role, as he moves from loser to producer to desperate criminal, and Mostel shows his fine gift for broad comedy in his portrayal of the morally bankrupt producer who prizes money above all else. The film's funniest scenes involve bizzare breakdowns from Wilder, the hilarious alegiance to the defunct Third Reich by the playright, played with utter conviction by Kenneth Mars, and of course the play itself. The opening musical number is a sight to behold, and manages to spoof every over the top broadway production ever in the sense that everyone involved in the production, save Wilder and Mostel, take it so damn seriously.
The Producers has finally gotten the DVD release it deserves, and should delight anyone who loves Mel Brooks, and perhaps win a few converts who only know him from his latter day flops(Men in Tights, I'm looking at you). Brooks had 10 great years of moviemaking in him, and he starts it out with a bang in this film.
49 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2003
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
"The Producers" was a very bold movie for first time director Mel Brooks to tackle. Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder were not nationally known movie stars, and the subject matter was very controversial. To his credit, Mel stuck to his guns and made the movie exactly the way he envisioned it. The only concession he made was changing the original title "Springtime For Hitler," because no movie studio would promote a film and theater owners wouldn't show a movie with Hitler in the title. The first part of the movie is hysterical, especially watching Gene Wilder getting so agitated that he appears to actually be having a nervous breakdown! The scene at Lincoln Center is one of the most effective scenes ever filmed. Zero finally persuades Gene to go along with his crazy scheme, and Gene yells "I'll do it!" Just then, the water in the fountain majestically rises up. Gene giddily dances around the fountain as Zero smiles approvingly.
The opening dance number of the play "Springtime For Hitler" is outrageously over the top, with the dancers wearing Nazi uniforms and goose-stepping across the stage. Especially offensive to some is when the overhead view shows the dancers below in the form of a swastika. As Mel said in his interview, if you've gone that far out, you might as well go all the way. The cult status of the film has grown over the years. Life imitated art when "The Producers" was turned into a real Broadway musical. The staggering success of the play led to the film finally being released on DVD. As a great man once wrote, you can't keep a good movie down!
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
"The Producers" and "The Wizard of Oz" are the two films that I have seen the most amount of times in my life---> 15 times each!! :) I totally agree with Leonard Maltin that it is "one of those rare films that gets funnier with each viewing." It really does, and I always find something new in it that makes me laugh.
Not only is "The Producers" Mel Brooks's first film, and one of his best, but it is quite simply STILL one of the greatest comedies ever made. Why? It's not just the plot, which itself is funny-- no, it is the performances of the late great Zero Mostel as Max Bialystock (what a name!), Gene Wilder as Leo Bloom (whose name was derived from James Joyce's "Ulysses" whose stage version starred Zero Mostel), Kenneth Mars as "Springtime For Hitler" author Franz Liebkin, Christopher Hewitt (Mr. Belvedere himself!) as flamboyantly gay, and cross-dressing, Roger DeBris (another great name!), the late great Dick Shawn as "L.S.D.", and so on...and the interaction between all of them is just hilarious! Even all of the smaller roles get filled with with memorable characters. (Like the "CONCI-OIGE!") For the most part, they just don't make comedies like this anymore.
Now, they've just re-made "The Producers" for Broadway (as Franz Liebkin would say, "Broadvay...oh, joy of joys! Oh, dream of dreams!! I MUST TELL THE BIRDS!!!") I sure can't wait to see this version, even if it takes me a couple of years to do it. I've heard that it's been sold out for the next 2 years. It's just a testament to this film's timelessness...and the fact that it's REALLY funny!! If anyone reading this STILL hasn't seen it, well then what are you waiting for? Buy it, see it with your friends or family, and have a good time laughing. :)
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
I regret to say that I never had the opportunity to see the Broadway production of "The Producers". I do remember seeing Brook's film during it's original film release while I was in high school. Many years ago I paid an inflated price at a retail outlet for a VHS copy of the film. However, if I now divide the price by the number of times watched, it's doggone cheap! Truly, this film gets better with repeated viewing. I've not liked all of Mel Brook's films; but, I believe this first one is one of his finest.Mr. Brook's fingerprint is on each of his films. It is easily recognized by any Mel Brooks fan. Zero Mostel as the crooked producer, Gene Wilder, as the (former) scrupulously honest accountant and Kenneth Mars as the WWII German author of "Springtime for Hitler" are wonderful.I recommend that you give it a look.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
First off, this has always been my favorite Mel Brooks film - with "Blazing Saddles" being a real close second - it's such a thrill to have it on Blu-ray. Now on to my review:
If you don't know it already, Amazon has a policy of grouping ALL reviews of a DVD title together whether it is standard def or Blu-ray and so it is important, when looking at reviews to note the format being reviewed. It is most helpful to sort the reviews by "most recent first" (Amazon gives you this option). If you look at the "most helpful review" for this title, you will see it is from 2006 and is not the Bluray. If you are purchasing a new title, look at the date.
That said, I can't write as technical review of the BD as my fellow reviewer Marty Gillis so I'll defer to him on the technical aspects. I'll try to add other info here.
The new 2013 Bluray (from Shout Factory) provides the same bonus features as the earlier standard def reissue: Sketch Gallery, One deleted scene, and a wonderful 61-minute (!) "Making of..." documentary with lots of info. The only new bonus is the 20-minute "Mel and His Movies" segment. This is one of the newly produced mini-docs that was made for (and included in ) the FABULOUS Mel Brooks DVD compilation that SF issued last year (and which is a "must have" for all Brooks fans.). So, if you have that set, and the earlier standard DVD of "The Producers", there's nothing new here. BUT, if you have a high-def TV and love the film as much as the rest of we Brooks fans, you will definitely want to see the Blu-ray.
With 270+ other reviews here - I don't need to re-hash the plot, etc. I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
Mel Brooks won an Academy Award for his screenplay of THE PRODUCERS, and with due cause. This hilarious romp through the world of Broadway producers stars Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder in an Oscar-nominated performance and is non-stop funny! Max Bialystock is a has-been Broadway producer who has been reduced to swooning little old ladies for cash. Leo Bloom, an honest accountant(Wilder) comes in to help Mr. Bialystock with his producing bills, and makes the comment that under the right circumstances, a producer could make more money with a flop than he would with a hit. So begins the unbelievably hysterical journey of Bialystock and Bloom in search of the worst play in the world. They discover a play called "Springtime for Hitler" and proceed to get the worst director, the worst playwright, and the worst actor to play Hitler, and produce the play on Broadway. There is only one small problem, the play is a HIT! People think that it is a hilarious comedy, and they clamour to see it. This great film is chock-full of laughs, and great performances. Zero Mostel plays a fantastically unscrupulous producer and astounds as Max Bialystock. Gene Wilder is a comic genius as Leo Bloom, and he is wonderful. Kenneth Mars pulls off quite possibly one of the funniest characters ever as the ex-Nazi, Hitler-loving playwright, and Dick Shawn gives a finely-tuned performance as a psychedelic hippie actor playing Hitler. I have not laughed more at any other movie. This is definitely the funniest movie ever. Go out and see it right now!
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
'The Producers' from 1969 was somewhat of a commercial and critical flop when it was released. Over time it has deservedly become a true classic and I never tire of watching it at least once a year! The great Mel Brooks shows what he is made of with this film, enlisting one of the greatest comedy casts of all time. The incomparable Zero Mostel, the superlative Gene Wilder and the always wonderful Kenneth Mars head the cast of greats in this offbeat and entertaining skewering of both greed and Nazis! Needless to say, I REALLY love this movie! It truly gets better by the year! (Way to go Mel!!)
With that said, this review will focus on the audio and video qualities of the Blu Ray release, rather than the film itself.
Presented in glorious 1080p with an AVC encode and original aspect ratio 'The Producers' has never looked or sounded better on home video. I was totally enraptured with the quality of the video, especially the beautiful ORIGINAL color timing. Just great! Strong bit rate on a dual layered disc means no compression artifacts that I could see. Pixel density held up fine on both my 55 and 65 inch HDTVs.
Sure there are a few problems, but they are almost ALL tied to transitions between scenes when the optical process is employed to "fade" one scene into the next. If the picture goes a bit off, you know a fade is coming up and as soon as the next cut (angle) comes, the clarity is right back. Compared to other optical printing problems I have seen on Blu Ray, this is VERY minor and does very little to distract you from enjoying the presentation. Now days everything is done on the Avid film composer or some such digital workstation and optical printing is a thing of the past, but all things considered the soft spots on this film are very few and far between.
Image is, for the most part, sharp and crisp and REALLY good looking. It looks just like it did in the theaters. It is a shame that many of the previously released films by Mel don't look this good on Blu Ray. I wish to heck 'High Anxiety' looked as good as this. (It doesn't) Print damage and other aberrations are also present, but only at a very bare minimum. I would give the video a solid 4 to 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 5.
Ok, so the picture quality is very good, how about the sound?
You get a very nice sounding DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that avoids surround sound gimmicks and sticks to the tasks at hand. The music sounds simply great and most all the dialogue is crisp and clear. I had NO complaints about the audio and you get almost (stereo, summed to mono) the original uncompressed MONO track included as an option, but the 5.1 mix is so nice it really doesn't matter.
Special features include two documentaries of decent length, one in SD , the other in HD. Also, a deleted scene in included along with some trailers and a slide show of production sketches. All in all, a very nice little package of extras and an excellent value.
If you love this film, Mel Brooks, or any of the cast members, you will be EXTREMELY happy with this Blu Ray presentation. Totally worth the money and it's replay value makes it a sound investment. Heck, I already own 110% of the film! Marty G's most highest recommendation!!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2003
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I first saw The Producers at a college movie theater when it was first released in the late 1960s. It was outrageous and hilarious then, and it still is now. I'm not sure I want to see the current musical version, though. I can't imagine any duo who can out-duo Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. To see Mostel's antics is alone worth the purchase price. This is the best of Mel Brooks's works by far, and I rank it in the top five of the most outrageous and funny movies of all time.
The best way to beat a bully is to puncture his balloon. Only a genius could have successfully lampooned the Nazis in those days, and when Brooks made it work, he showed true genius. This is in my non-humble opinion, of course.