Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel


Mel Brooks, in his first feature, seems to have anticipated the expression "over-the-top," so common nowadays. The film (which he also scripted) is New York Jewish humor at its most broad, something that is imbued with the spirit of vaudeville, ethnic and other jokes, and a kind of cinematic chutzpah that dares to make comedy out of Adolf Hitler at a time when bad memories were still fresh.

Zero Mostel plays a Broadway producer, Max Bialystock who could also be called Bialyshtick or Bialyschlock. Being on the ropes, he dreams up a scheme to finance a play by collecting contributions that way exceed the cost of production. The backers are wealthy old ladies whom Max courts in very funny ways.

His co-producer is his accountant Gene Wilder, here in his second film, after "Bonnie and Clyde" the previous year. "The Producers" really launched Wilder into screen stardom. The acolytes intend for the play to flop, so that they can run away to South America with the sizable amount of unused, remaining cash. But, you've guessed it, the play is a hit, mostly thanks to its "piece de resistance," the outrageous number "Springtime for Hitler."

Other elements of the movie come and go so far as comedic values are concerned, yet unevenness and all,the whole is such a wild assemblage of bits and pieces of all provenances, and so hilarious, that the movie has not dated at all. Brooks got an Oscar for his screenplay. (Edwin Jahiel)

Copyright © Edwin Jahiel

Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel