Waverly dance
Monday, April 30, 2007
"The Producers" Sets Out to Prove That You Can Make More Money Failing Than Succeeding

The Producers – 2 Stars (Average)

The Producers is a Broadway musical featuring a washed up producer and creative accountant who set out to prove that you can make more money by failing than succeeding.

Max Bialystock (Nathan Lane) was once on top of Broadway's world and now cannot get a show past opening night. When neurotic accountant Leo Bloom (Matthew Broderick) arrives on the scene he proposes a nifty scheme to put Max back in the chips: raise more money than he needs and make sure his show flops so he can pocket the difference.

Max comes to love the idea since he has been reduced to romancing rich old ladies to get seed money to operate.

Max and Leo proceed to produce a musical called "Springtime for Hilter", written by escaped Nazi Franz Liebkind (Will Farrell). They get the insanely flamboyant and gay Roger DeBris (Gary Beach) to direct the play. To fill in the missing piece they hire the loopy Swedish bombshell Ulla (Uma Thurman).

This combination creates a pure entertainment film that is zany, funny and ridiculous. If you guessed that the screenplay was written by Mel Brooks you are right. If it sounds familiar you are right again.

The Producers is a remake of the original Producers written and directed by the same Mel Brooks 37 years earlier. Brooks won an Oscar for Best Writing in 1968, and Gene Wilder was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Role as Leo Bloom.

The original cast featured Zero Mostel as Max Bialystock, Kenneth Mars as Franz Liebkind and Lee Meredith as Ulla.

The name Bialystock was taken from the Polish city that was home to Mel Brooks' ancestors.

Because of the "Springtime for Hilter" musical number in 1968, the film was banned in Germany, and was not shown in Germany until it was included in a film festival featuring the works of Jewish filmmakers.

It has also been suggested that the term "creative accounting" may have originated in the 1968 production of The Producers.

If you cannot read music, you have something in common with Mel Brooks. "Springtime for Hilter" and "Prisoners in Love" (as were all the songs Brooks wrote for his films) were hummed into a tape recorder and transcribed by an expert.

Brooks is an incredible talent. He adapted The Producers as a stage musical in 2001 featuring (who else?) Nathan Lane as Max and Matthew Broderick as Leo, and it proceeded to win a record-breaking 12 Tony Awards.

Mel Brooks is not your usual talent. He may well be more of a stranger to sanity than comedy.

Trust me when I say that the 2005 version of The Producers is meant to be enjoyed without looking for a comfortable story line or serious message. It is nothing more or less than pure entertainment.

It seems as if this film has a cast of thousands, and everyone has bought into Mel Brooks idea of a good time. Every movie needs a director and Susan Stroman must have had her moments in keeping this production on task.

The 2005 version of The Producers was nominated for 4 Golden Globes: Best Picture, Best Original Song ("There's Nothing Like a Show on Broadway" by Mel Brooks), Nathan Lane as Best Actor and Will Farrell as Best Supporting Actor.

You may remember Thurman from Dangerous Liaisons (1988), Pulp Fiction (1994), Gattaca (1997) and two Kill Bill movies (2003 and 2004). She earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress as Mia Wallace in Pulp Fiction.

Despite the nonsensical good fun, I enjoyed watching Uma Thurman as Ulla, proving that the right blond with the right sex appeal never gets old.

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

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