on 9 March 2014
THE PRODUCERS  [Collector's Limited Edition] [Blu-ray + DVD] [US Import] One Of The Funniest Movies Ever Made! Hollywood Never Faced A Zanier Zero Hour!
From the endlessly funny mind of filmmaker Mel Brooks comes this triple-Oscar® winning explosion of pure comic lunacy about low-rent Broadway producer Max Bialystock [Zero Mostel] and his high-strung accountant Leo Bloom [Gene Wilder]. They discover that, with the help of a few gullible investors, they can make more money on a flop than on a hit. So armed with the worst show ever written "Springtime For Hitler" and an equally horrific cast, this double-dealing duo is banking on disaster. But when their sure-to-offend musical becomes a surprise smash hit, they find themselves in the middle of a Broadway blitzkrieg! “A Startling, Stunning, Outrageous [and] Breath-taking Debut!” said the Los Angeles Times.
FILM FACT: ‘The Producers’ was the first film directed by Mel Brooks. In 1968, Mel Brooks won the Academy Award® for Best Original Screenplay, and Gene Wilder was nominated for the Academy Award® for Best Supporting Actor. In addition, Zero Mostel was nominated for the Golden Globe® Awards for Best Actor for Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, and Mel Brooks was nominated for the Golden Globe® Awards for Best Screenplay. In 1969, ‘The Producers’ won a Writers Guild of America, East Best Original Screenplay award. In 1996, this film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
Cast: Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Dick Shawn, Kenneth Mars, Lee Meredith, Christopher Hewett, Andréas Voutsinas, Estelle Winwood, Renée Taylor, David Patch, William Hickey, Barney Martin, Shimen Ruskin, Frank Campanella, Josip Elic, Madelyn Cates, John Zoller, Brutus Peck, Anne Ives (lady), Amelie Barleon (lady), Lisa Kirk (lady), Nell Harrison (lady), Mary Love (lady), Bernie Allen (uncredited), Rusty Blitz (uncredited), Ron Charles (uncredited) and Mel Brooks (uncredited cameo singer for 'Springtime for Hitler')
Director: Mel Brooks
Producers: Jack Grossberg, Sidney Glazier and Joseph E. Levine (uncredited)
Screenplay: Mel Brooks
Composer: John Morris
Composer: John Morris
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English: Original 2.0 LPCM Mono Audio
Subtitles: English, French and Spanish
Running Time: 89 minutes
Region: Region A/1
Number of discs: 2
Studio: Shout! Factory
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘The Producers’ is considered by many to be one of the top comedies of all time; this 1968 film ranked at number eleven on the American Film Institute's list of the top one hundred comedies. The film, which has grown to cult status, is noteworthy for a number of reasons: first, it marked Mel Brooks' directorial film debut and first attempt at writing for the big screen and directing. Unexpectedly, it also marked Mel Brooks' first Oscar nomination and win for the award that we now call Best Original Screenplay. 'The Producers' is a unique comedy that has never been equalled. Here we have Max Bialystock is a failing Broadway producer who has been reduced to wearing a cardboard belt and taking money from elderly women in exchange for fulfilling their sexual fantasies. His luck changes for the better when he meets Leo Bloom, a neurotic accountant who inadvertently gives him an idea of how to turn failure into fortune and solicit a huge financial investment for a play, produce a guaranteed flop, and pocket the investors' money. Armed with “Springtime for Hitler,” the worst play they can find, Max and Leo set out to conquer Broadway, by closing in one night.
The two leading characters were inspired by real events in Mel Brooks' life. At one point early in his career, Mel Brooks was the assistant to a scamming stage producer who would sleep with older wealthy women in exchange for them supplying funds for his productions. In 'The Producers,' this adaptation of Mel Brooks' former boss is the sexual businessman played by Zero Mostel. He's a grand, energetic and wildly zany character. I cannot think of another actor, past or present, which could pull off the physicality and non-stop intensity of Zero Mostel. Like many comedic stage actors, his actions and reactions are over-exaggerated, but adding balance to the potentially exhausting high energy of his character, Max Bialystock, is the calm fish-out-of-water bookkeeper that gets seduced into Max Bialystock's dishonest lifestyle, Leo Bloom. Of course, this is the role that landed Gene Wilder in comedic motion pictures. The only silver screen production that he had appeared in prior to 'The Producers' was 'Bonnie and Clyde.' With Leo being a mostly restrained and reserved character, there are moments that Max Bialystock pushes Leo Bloom's anxiety and break him out of his quiet shell. These instances offer the comedic brilliance that allows for Gene Wilder to leave behind the straight man persona and conjure hearty "belly-laughs" from the audience.
As well-written as Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom are and as perfect as Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder are, and these pairings wouldn't be worth a dime if it wasn't for a great screenplay for them to exist within. Their character types are a great combination, but it's the scenario that they place themselves in that truly makes 'The Producers' a "perfect storm" of comedy.
When Leo Bloom is brought into Max Bialystock's office to help with bookkeeping, he notices a $2,000 error in the books. Max Bialystock's last production was a total flop. It came nowhere near profiting, so there wasn't the hassle of having to repay all of the investors; however, there were $2,000 left over from the production's budget. Being a conscious-less blood-sucking businessman, Max Bialystock persuades Leo Bloom into "cooking the books" and placing the $2,000 straight into Max Bialystock's pocket. Not having worked in show business until this moment, Leo Bloom notices a quick way that any dishonest producer could scam millions: if a producer pulled in millions of dollars from investors, didn't spend it all on the production and produced a sure-fire flop, then he could become an instant millionaire by cooking the books. It takes plenty of coaxing, but Leo proves to be a corruptible accountant and signs on to be Max Bialystock's producing partner for their soon-to-be musical flop, "Springtime for Hitler."
Watching Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom intentionally sabotage their show is hilarious. From a pro-Hitler playwright and a horrible director to downright awful actors and Nazi propaganda musical numbers, their self-destruction is absolutely entertaining, making 'The Producers' one of the funniest comedies of all time.
‘The Producers’ also established many of the Mel Brooks trademarks that would be seen in his films to come. A wacky and often twisted sense of humour that was shocking to some at the time was part of Mel Brooks’s repertoire. Who else could make a film about two Jewish men putting on a play called "Springtime for Hitler"? Incidentally, that was one of Mel Brooks’s favourite running jokes before he made this film. When asked what his next project would be, he would often say that he was going to do a musical called "Springtime for Hitler." Because of the musical scenes, the film was banned in Germany. It later made its appearance in that country in a film festival featuring the works of Jewish filmmakers. Mel Brooks’s sense of humour was recognised at the Academy Awards that year when he received the Oscar® for Best Screenplay, his only Oscar® to date. Mel Brooks would later produce a musical version for the Broadway stage that became a long-running hit starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick; they recreated their roles for the 2005 film version directed by Susan Stroman.
Blu-ray Video Quality – The 1080p transfer compressed using the AVC codec retains the film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and has never looked better. Colours are well-saturated and consistent, blacks are inky while retaining much of the detail, and film grain is left virtually intact. The print used does have a few minor nicks and dirt debris here and there, and some shots, usually optical are somewhat soft. All in all, though, a near-perfect transfer for a 40+ year old film.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – ‘The Producers’ contains two English soundtracks, a 2.0 LPCM Mono Audio (replicating the film’s original theatrical presentation) and a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio remix. Both sound very good, and have been cleaned up quite nicely by removing a lot of the noise inherent in earlier video releases. The LPCM Mono Audio is clear and clean throughout, while the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio opens up the soundstage a bit by expanding the music to the left, right, and surrounds, while directing dialogue and effects to the centre channel.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Special Feature: Documentary: The Making of 'The Producers' [480i] [63:23] This lengthy and in-depth feature serves as a true documentary, walking you through the entire process of how 'The Producers' came to be, how it was shot, how it was distributed and how it became an Oscar-winning film. There's an abundance of interviews and clips, all of which are great.
Special Feature: Mel and His Movies: 'The Producers' [1080p] [18:52] This feature is a fluid interview-like session with Mel Brooks. He discusses nearly everything shown in the 'Making of' feature, only in a compressed and abbreviated fashion.
Deleted Scene [480i] [3:41] The 'Making of' feature shows snippets and references an alternate version of how the duo tries to destroy the theatre. Watch the full version of this alternate scene here. Mel Brooks says that this scene was changed because the comedic timing doesn't work and, after watching it, I have to agree.
Special Feature: Peter Sellers' Ad in 'Variety' [480i] [0:53) Peter Sellers' raving one-paragraph review is read to the camera during an interview. Mel Brooks references this quote in ‘Mel and His Movies’ and the story behind it is explained in the 'Making of.'
Special Feature: Sketch Gallery [480i] [2:15] Watch a slideshow set to music that shows dozens of different artistic depictions of the events and locations in the film.
Theatrical Trailers: ‘The Producers’ [480i] [2:12]; ‘American Masters' Mel Brooks: Make a Noise [480i] [1:51] and ‘The Incredible Mel Brooks: An Irresistible Collection of Unhinged Comedy’ [480i] [2:30].
BONUS: Shout! Factory has given 'The Producers' a two-disc release that includes a Region A/1 [only] Blu-ray disc and a NTSC DVD copy of the film. The discs are housed in a standard double Amaray case that reveals a fun little secret and the cover art is reversible so that you can remove the sheet and flip it over for a completely different cover. The art on the inside of the case remains the same, but the front cover art is different.
Finally, considering the fact that 'The Producers' was made in the late 1960s, it's crazy to see the risqué jokes and gags (including pasties-covered nude breasts and geriatric foreplay) Mel Brooks gets away with in it. Mel Brooks hit the ground running with this comedy about an unlikely duo planning a million-dollar scam disguised as a Broadway flop. The boundary-pushing sexuality is matched by comically playing with taboo topics regarding Hitler and the Holocaust. The comedic timing of its leading duo is perfect, never missing a beat. The final punchline of the movie is unforgettable, so much so that it's been used and referenced in many black comedies since then. The transfer of this 45-year-old film is not flawless, but strong nonetheless. More special features exist than I expected, including an hour-plus documentary about 'The Producers.' If you are a Mel Brooks fan that was disappointed in 'The Producers' not being included in 'The Mel Brooks Collection,' then be excited for this Blu-ray because it's just as good and if not better than the discs in that set. Again this has been an all-time favourite film of Mel Brooks and despite its age, still holds up well and the comedy is still relevant today, but I personally was very sad that the Blu-ray Cover could not be the design as was the brilliant The Criterion Collection NTSC LaserDisc Cover, as it was totally perfect. Also why won’t Mel Brooks release his latest ‘The Producers’ film musical, as this would be a brilliant companion to this particular Blu-ray Disc, so hopefully one day Mel Brooks will get his act together, as it would be a massive hit with all Mel Brooks fans of this comedy genius. Despite this, I am still honoured to have this in my Mel Brooks Blu-ray Collection and if you have never seen this film, well you will be in for a total hilarious [stomach aching] treat. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom