Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Producers (1968)

Directed by Mel Brooks. Starring Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder.

Mel Brooks' once-infamous debut film has lost a lot of its shock value in the years since its release, but none of its hilarity. Mostel and Wilder star as a pair of Broadway producers who raise a great deal of money for an unspeakably bad show, hoping to bilk the investors and run off with the cash. Brooks' direction looks pretty clumsy in retrospect, but the film is so funny it hardly matters. It starts out well, as the con is hatched and put into action, and by the time the show (an atrocity titled "Springtime for Hitler") becomes a surprise smash, the film has achieved levels of lunacy that few others have reached. And it's oh-so-quotable, and filled (once again) with priceless supporting turns like Dick Shawn's hippie Hitler and Kenneth Mars' Nazi playwright. On top of it all, the film features one of the screen's greatest comedic odd couples, with Mostel at the top of his game and Wilder reaching the pinnacle of fussiness.

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