The Producers

USA, 1968, G, 88 min. Director: Mel Brooks. Stars: Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder.

Okay, so you may not have heard of it, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a film as funny as The Producers, Mel Brooks's movie-directing debut after his runaway TV success with Get Smart. Unlike most of his later output, The Producers is neither spoof nor pastiche: his script, in fact, beat 2001: A Space Odyssey for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar that year. And it's a corker. Mostel and a deliciously pathetic Wilder star as a down-on-his-luck Broadway producer and a wimpish accountant who put together a scheme to make a fortune by over-selling shares in a play that's guaranteed to fail on its first night. The lucky candidate is Springtime for Hitler, the insane meisterwork of a pigeon-fancying old Nazi who's kept a flame burning for his Fuhrer ("vot a painter!") all these years. And to really nail it they make it a musical, with a dazzling Busby Berkeley opening number that'll have you tapping your toes and humming along like a goose-stepping young Aryan at Nuremberg.

Brooks has matched The Producers since, but he's never bettered it; Mostel is fantastic, and Gene Wilder makes you see what all the fuss was originally about (The Woman in Red it ain't). It's the perfect end to the university year.


First published in a reviews booklet of the ANU Film Group.
This page: 31 January 2000; last modified 16 February 2001.

©1994, 2000 Rory Ewins