Mel Brooks was undoubtedly one of the most distinctive writers and directors working in Hollywood during the 1970s and 1980s. He was arguably the king of comedy during this period making films which were unique, highly quotable, hilarious and memorable. Spaceballs, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein all attracted a loyal fan following and became cult classics. It was his collaboration with the late Gene Wilder which bore most fruit. Their first film together and Brook’s debut, The Producers, remains a wholy irreverent romp.
Leo Bloom (Wilder) arrives at the offices of the once great theatre empresario Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) to do his accounts, only to find him in the process of extracting funds from one of his ‘patrons’. Leo discovers the books have been well and truly cooked, but accidentally comes up with the idea of producing a flop which will close after a night, allowing them to pocket the money. Now all they need is an awful play. Enter Franz Liebkind (Kenneth Mars). A writer who jumps at the chance to reclaim the führer’s good name.
The Producers is a brilliantly goofball comedy which dares to go to a place no one had ever been brave enough to visit before. The juxtaposition of Nazis and comedy musical is pure genius, and it never lets up for one moment. Brooks demonstrates the power of comedy, whilst Mostel and Wilder blunder around creating an unlikely theatrical triumph. The Producers is a rip-roaring comedy which takes no prisoners and doesn’t distinguish reich from wrong.
The 4k restoration of The Producers is in cinemas for one day only on 5 August. It will be released on DVD, Blu-ray and EST by Studiocanal on 10 September.