The Producers (1967)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Producers</strong> (1967)

(On Cable TV, March 2018) Being a modern moviegoer taking a look at the classics can lead to blasphemous statements, so here goes: I like the remake of The Producers better than the original. Once you get your rage out of your system, consider this: The original Mel Brooks version of The Producers is scattershot—it aims in all directions, occasionally hitting a bullseye and occasionally firing off in the air. The real highlight of this original production only comes after an hour of various nonsense—it’s really good once the stage musical begins and we get to see the insanity of a camp version of Hitler. In the meantime (and afterwards), The Producers is duller than expected. In contrast, the remake version doesn’t quite capture the stage musical in its unhinged glory, but has a much stronger first and third act, with more memorable supporting characters and a stream of musical numbers throughout. Yeah, I’ll take the remake if only for Uma’s Ulla. Still, preferring the remake over the fifty-year-old original shouldn’t take away from the qualities of the original. As stated, the original has a much stronger musical sequence. It also benefits from Gene Wilder and (to a lesser extent) Zero Mostel in the lead roles. There’s also a definite shock quality to the original that can’t be properly appreciated by modern audiences—although it can be felt secondhand from some reactions baked in the film itself. Remake aside, The Producers remains a film that can be readily watched even today without trouble … but it is definitely of its time, from a writer/director making his debut. Influential, but since then supplanted by a much slicker (and focused) remake. Considering that Brooks himself wrote much of the remake, that’s not that much of a blasphemous statement.

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