Also known as: Mel Brooks’ The Producers (complete title), Springtime for Hitler (alternate title)
Release Date: November 22nd, 1967 (Pittsburgh premiere)
Directed by: Mel Brooks
Written by: Mel Brooks
Music by: John Morris
Cast: Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Kenneth Mars, Dick Shawn, Lee Meredith, William Hickey, Mel Brooks (voice)
Embassy Pictures, 88 Minutes
“How could this happen? I was so careful. I picked the wrong play, the wrong director, the wrong cast. Where did I go right?” – Max Bialystock
I have seen just about every Mel Brooks film, as well as the remake of The Producers, the stage show and the season of Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry was starring in the play. But I have never seen the original.
Being a fan of early Mel Brooks movies and Gene Wilder, I’m surprised it took me this long to get to the film but I spend a lot of time watching complete dreck because I review a lot of obscure movies, some of which I discover should remain obscure and mostly unknown.
Anyway, I was glad to see this pop up on FilmStruck because I’ve always wanted to watch it and because I needed something funny and entertaining to get me out of the funk I was in after a half dozen horrible pictures.
Quite frankly, this is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. It is in the upper echelon of all comedy for me and right up at the top of the list of Mel Brooks’ best. This and Young Frankenstein take the cake for me but it’s hard to decide between the two.
What makes this film unique in comparison to Brooks’ most famous work, is that it isn’t parody. This is an original story and it showed that Brooks can make comedy gold outside of just making fun of genre tropes.
Plus, the superb talent of Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel is on full display here, as both men play off of each other so well, they almost have a presence similar to other great duos like Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello and well… Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor.
The cast is also rounded out by other hilarious performances. Kenneth Mars is hysterical, as is Dick Shawn. In fact, Shawn really steals the show in the few scenes he has.
This is a rather short film, at just shy of 90 minutes, but it packs a lot of laughs and energy into that time.
The Producers is absolutely one of the greatest things that Mel Brooks has ever done. It has held up exceptionally well and deserves its status as a true comedy classic.
Pairs well with: Other early Mel Brooks films: Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles.