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The Producers: Deluxe Edition

Review Written by: Will Penley
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!

"When you've got it, flaunt it!"

I recall the first time I met the editor of our website, Estefan Ellison. We had similar tastes in film, so we quickly hit it off. One of his favorite filmmakers was Mel Brooks, who made many hilarious films some time ago. I hadn't seen many of Brooks' films at the time, so Estefan was constantly recommending the man and his work. Four months later, I saw both Blazing Saddles and The Producers and came to a conclusion. He was right. Blazing Saddles is a very good film, loaded with plenty of comedy and a great story. However, I think his best film was his first. The Producers is an absolutely hilarious film with memorable characters and great musical numbers. Anyone who hasn't seen it should...soon!

Broadway producer Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) was once famous for his great plays and he sometimes had six shows running at once! However, as of late, his plays have been floundering and he's resorted to giving little old ladies pleasure to get financing for his plays. He's even wearing a cardboard belt! Enter shy, timid accountant Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder) who when reviewing Max's books, realizes that in certain circumstances, a producer could make more money with a flop than with a hit! All he would have to do is raise more money than he needs and make sure that the play would flop. Enticed by this scheme, Max convinces Leo to become a producer and help him put it into action. But first, they need to find the flop. After days and days of searching, they finally find it -- "Springtime for Hitler!"

This is one of the funniest films I've ever seen in my life! Mel Brooks' screenplay is hilarious, filled with great jokes and highly comedic situations. Zero Mostel is superb as Max Bialystock, but Gene Wilder is even better with his hysterically funny performance as Leo Bloom! I hope to see more Mel Brooks films in the future, but I'm sure that none will ever compare with The Producers, which gets a very well-deserved "A+." MGM has released a wonderful two-disc DVD set for the film to coincide with the theatrical release of Susan Stroman's re-make. The video is mostly fine, but it could be sharper in some areas. It's to be expected from a film of this age, though. The audio is good with all the dialogue and music clear and free of hiss.

There are a ton of great extras in this set, starting with a fantastic making-of documentary that runs for a little over an hour. It covers pretty much all areas of the film's production and also gives a great look at Brooks' original inspirations for it. This is followed by a trailer for Susan Stroman's re-make, which looks excellent. I mean, Will Ferrell's playing Franz Liebkind! It has to be great! Next up is a short video that consists of production sketches set to the film's peppy music as well as a run-of-the-mill photo gallery. Also included is an alternate take of a hilarious scene in the film where the characters attempt to blow up the theater. I think the version in the final cut is better, but this was fun to see.

Rounding out the disc is a reading of Peter Sellers' great review of the film by Paul Mazursky and a series of trailers for other studio releases (including the very funny Spaceballs). There's also a surprisingly very informative insert to be found in the case. I've said it before and I'll say it again. The Producers is a hilarious film and every fan of film or comedy in general needs to see this one.

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