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The Producers: Deluxe Edition

Review Written by: Estefan Ellison
Film: A+
Video/Audio/Extras: B-/B+/A

Directed by: Mel Brooks
Written by: Mel Brooks
Produced by: Sidney Glazier
Starring: Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Kenneth Mars, Estelle Winwood, Dick Shawn, Christopher Hewett, Lee Meredith
Buy it!, Buy it, rent it or skip it: Buy it!

I am a huge fan of comedy that just plans to offend. From animated sitcoms like South Park and Family Guy to stand-up comics such as Chris Rock and George Carlin. However, the master of shock humour is without a doubt, Mel Brooks. It is very sad that the mostly clean Spaceballs is the only Brooks film that most people my age have heard of. They are missing out on some of the funniest films of all time, including Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and the topic of this review, the directorial debut of Mel Brooks, The Producers. The film takes riffs at Swedish blondes, drugged-out hippies and of course, those crazy Nazis. Any fan of great comedy has to have The Producers on their DVD shelves.

Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) was once a great Broadway producer, but now he is poor and has to stick to seducing little old ladies to get financing for his plays. When his accountant, Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder) informs that it's possible for him to make more money with a flop than he could with a hit, they devise the ultimate scheme to find the worst play ever written. However, they didn't count on finding "Springtime for Hitler" written by a retired Fuhrer-obsessed Nazi named Franz Liebkind (Kenneth Mars). To make the play even worse, they hire the worst director in town (Christopher Hewett) and a beatnick (Dick Shawn) to play the title role. All this soon leads to one of the funniest scenes in film history.

It is very rare for comedy directors to make a masterpiece on their first feature, but Mel Brooks triumphed with this very quotable and enjoyable classic. Mel Brooks's Oscar-winning screenplay is filled to the brim with great lines. Zero Mostel's performance as Max Bialystock is the work of genius and he provides wonderful chemistry with Gene Wilder. I really want to see Rhinoceros, their second collaboration, to see them together in different roles. The "Springtime for Hitler" song written by Brooks provides the most catchy song in history, which you will find yourself singing along. Fans of the wonderful Broadway musical who haven't seen the original film that inspired it will be very pleased with that version and vice versa. The video has some spots that appear and dark scenes look too dark and light scenes look too light. However, we can still seen the actor's antics just fine, so the picture gets a "B-." The sound is better and what's important is that we can hear the great dialogue and "Springtime for Hitler" just fine. The audio gets a "B+."

All the special features appear on Disc Two. First is an excellent one-hour documentary on the making of The Producers. It provides a wealth of information including trying to get financing, the controversy of the project and casting all the actors. That is followed by a trailer for the new film version of The Producers based on the Broadway musical. The new film is brilliant and I highly recommend it. Next is a very well-drawn sketch gallery of the film's different sets as well as a generic photo gallery. There is also a very funny alternate scene from when the characters try to blow up the theatre. It's funny and I would have been happy with whatever scene they chose to put in the final cut. Next is a statement written by Peter Sellers about how great The Producers is. It appears in the documentary so I don't know why it is repeated here. Finally, the disc caps off with trailers for West Side Story, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Rent and Spaceballs. The extras are excellent and get an "A" grade.

I know I have said this many times in this review, but it is completely true. The Producers is a comic masterpiece and should be viewed by any fan of comedy. Keep in mind, that this is a review of the Deluxe Edition. Those who own the Special Edition should not buy this set, because it is pretty much the same. If you don't already own that DVD, pick up this one. Unless you can find that version for a smaller price (although it is out of print).

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