Brooks' The Producers
DVD - Image A- Sound B- Extras B+
BD - Image B+ Sound A- Extras B+
starring Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Dick Shawn, Kenneth Mars
written and directed by Mel Brooks
by Walter Chaw A seminal year for film, 1968: Once Upon a Time in the West, Rosemary's Baby, Planet of the Apes, Night of the Living Dead, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Barbarella, If..., Targets, Faces, Danger: Diabolik...and, some would say, Mel Brooks's The Producers, a film back in the limelight thanks to the record-breaking, award-winning Broadway play on which it's based now coming out as an extraordinarily ill-advised feature film of its own. Unlike Brooks's other classics (Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, even High Anxiety), The Producers has aged pretty poorly. It's played broad, which is to say that everyone acts like they're being defibrillated every five minutes, leading to a lot of high-decibel screeching and running around in circles. And I don't really understand what the film is about: Is it an attack on the theatre, or is it an attack on Nazis? If it's neither, if it's instead some kind of vaudevillian farce about the last days of Jewish entertainment hegemony, then perhaps that's as good an explanation as any for why its prehistoric rimshots, timing, and attitudes strike me as puzzling. Maybe it's a satire of being a Jewish comic.