Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Mel Brooks, the Producer's "Mel Brooks' The Producers"

Written and directed by Mel Brooks, The Producers (1968) is a very different film from The Producers (2005), for which Mel Brooks was the writer and director. But apart from these differences, what else do these films have in common?

In an attempt to analyse their common differences and isolate their contrasting similarities, I have recently watched both films, and compiled a rudimentary table of facts:

The Producers (1968)The Producers (2005)
Basic StoryFilm about a failed Broadway producer who attempts to produce a failed Broadway show - and fails.Film about a successful failure, Max Bialystock, who fails in producing a successfull Broadway show - that was meant to fail.
Name of Broadway ShowSpringtime for HitlerSpringtime for Hitler
Character: Max BialystockLittle-known American actor Zero Mostel plays Broadway producer Max Bialystock, who bears a remarkable resemblance to little-known American actor Zero Mostel.
The character of Bialystock is underacted by Nathan Lane, who is in fact an overacted, underrated version of Zero Mostel for the 2000s.
Character: Leopold BloomGene Wilder underacts the part perfectly by not acting at all, merely reacting.
Matthew Broderick ingeniously recreates Gene Wilder's performance, thereby saving himself the trouble of acting for the rest of the film.
Quote"What is it, oh fish-faced enemy of the people? Oh, have I hurt your feelings? Good.""Stop the world! I WANT TO GET ON!"
Quote"We'll play the Cruel Abduction and Rape of Lucretia, and I'll be Lucretia." "And I'll be Rape.""Not many people know thith, but der Fuhrer was descended from a long line of Englith Queenth."
Quote"Don't be stupid, be a smarty, come and join the Nazi party!""Bloom! There's more to you than there is to you!"
May possibly offend ...Jewish people, failed Broadway producers, and hippies.Jewish people, homosexuals, and just about everybody else.

Some people may say the 2005 film is better than the 1968 film, and others may say the 1968 film influenced the 2005 film (or vice versa). Others may think that both films are the same, with some large but unimportant differences. the important thing is, The Producers is a film with some serious points to make, and some not-so serious point to make. (This may also explain why the film is mostly humourous. Or will it?)

In the end, The Producers is a film that some people will like, and some people will dislike. Does anyone care to split the difference?


Tony.T said...

I don't like that I can't think of anything witty, or intelligent, or sharp to say.

THe word verification says nubloo.

TimT said...

Fitting ... this entire post was a result of my being unable to say anything witty or insightful about the two films.

It was a bit of a shock to the system to find out that in the original, the part of Hitler was played by a hippy.

In the 2005 musical production, the hippy joke gets thrown out the window, and a new 'gay Hitler' theme is dragged in.

Not less funny ... just different.

How about that Zero Mostel character, huh? He's amazing. He had me in stitches with a mere tilt of his eye.

My word verification was wwxeikm

Katrina said...

Personally, I loved the most recent one, though honestly can't say I saw the first. A bit outside my generation I'm afraid. But in any case, I think it just reaffirmed my opinion that Mel Brooks, as well as the actors in this particular one, are geniuses.

TimT said...

Yes! I've seen it twice so far, and am fast developing an obsession with the film. Nathan Lane is extraordinary. I think Mel knows exactly who to select as actors.

They're selling the original on DVD at the moment, which is how I got a copy.

TimT said...

Incidentally, you know Mel was an actor in both films? He's the guy who says 'Don't be stupid, be a smarty, come and join the Nazi party!' in the big song-and-dance sequence.

My word verification now is oohako.

Tim said...

I haven't seen the new one, but I bet it's no Spaceballs.

TimT said...

There's a Mel Brooks DVD collection going around at the moment, and I'm going to have to get it.

I was a deprived child, my parents tended to look down upon American comedy for some reason.

Bruce said...

I love all three incarnations to various degrees. The original is great but there is now way you could do the hippy gag in this post-millenial world. I think the stage show is the best of the 3. I nearly dies laughing at the actual Springtime for Hitler performance on stage. Alas, Reg Livermore was no Nathan Lane and it being a franchise meant that Reg wasn't allowed to play to his strengths. That said it is still the best.

But the recent movie suffered a bit from not breaking free of the stage show enough. Some scenes they might as well have just filmed the scene in the theatre with appropriate framing. The THAT FACE number was the most awkward example of this, complete with lame adaption of the "stage right" gag.

My review is here and it would be nice for someone other than a spambot to leave a comment on it.

Harry Hutton said...

Uma Thurman and Will Ferrell were perfect, too. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed an evening in the cinema more.

I was just a paper hanger
No one more obscurer
Got a phone call from the Reichstag
Told me I was Fuhrer...

Gotta buy the DVD.

Harry Hutton said...

Some song clips and stuff here:

TimT said...

Bruce, I'd love to see the stage play. Guess I'll just have to get that on DVD, too.

What's the 'stage right' gag, though? I'm not sure.

I think Brooks trick has been to keep on adding goodies to the show (he wrote new songs for the 2005 movie, for instance)

Harry, I didn't like Uma's role, though Ferrell was brilliant.

Remember reading a review of this some time ago where the writer accussed Brooks of anti-semitism and homophobia. Yes, it is possible to entirely miss the point of the show ...

Bruce said...

Just before the THAT FACE song, Bloom is doing a theatrical anguish style emote where he walks down (front) stage to the right and Ulla says "Why does Mr Bloom walk so far away down stage right" or something which totally works as a theatrical gag. But in the movie he takes a step and half and Ulla asks the same but with "camera" instead of "stage". He's walked less than a metre because that's the range that film gets shot at, but still does the same line as if he has really walked away. It jarred for me.

And Chloe Dallymore was 2.5 times as hot as Uma Thurman was in the same role. I tested this extensively to come up with that number. Mmmmm...Chloe....

HA HA HA said...

wil frarrel?! man taht guy is awfal.

an wy wuoudl you pay to see mathew brodrick doign a gene wilder impression whan you can rent teh real thing?

TimT said...

Not in this film, he isn't. I'm not sure I've seen him in anything else.

Maybe this was the part he was getting ready for all his life: a camp neo-Nazi pigeon fancier who has a thing for dancing and who writes musicals in his spare time. Could be ...

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