Monday, July 25, 2011
#165: The Producers
The plot of The Producers that is set very firmly no longer than fifteen minutes into the movie makes for a hilarious premise. When Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel), a down on his luck producer conspires with his accountant Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder) to make the world's worst flop on Broadway, the outrageousness of their goal is enough to prepare you for the subsequent laughs.
The screenplay that won Mel Brooks his first Academy award in his debut film is strictly linear but replete with funny lines. With Zero Mostel essaying the part of the loveable rascal Bialystock, the movie adds a playful charm in it's execution. It gets even better when a couple of more oddball characters join Springtime for Hitler, their proposed flop play premieres on Broadway. That section is a musical where the story of the play progresses through a series of songs and in the whole scheme of things is the least appealing part of the movie. Towards the end however, you're willing to forgive that transgression because of an interesting manner is which the story winds up.
Mostel is disarmingly adorable as Bialystock while Gene Wilder plays the simpleton forced to comply with a tricky situation with generous sincerity. What lacks The Producers is a surprise punch that could have elevated the ongoing comic plot. From the first scene itself, we know that the play is going to turn on it's head and the story plays out predictably for the next hour or so.
That said, there are no two ways about the fact that this is a timeless comedy that will deliver the laughs. Mel Brooks is one of the few people who have an Oscar, Tony, Grammy and Emmy to their credit. With The Producers, we see more than just a glimpse of why he was that good.