Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder in The Producers (1967)

How to Succeed in Show Business Without Really Trying

Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) is a Broadway producer who has taken to romancing a collection of little old ladies in order to raise the funds for his shows which tend to be failures. When accountant Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder) shows up to do Max's books he not only discovers a discrepancy but also notices that producing a failure can generate as much money as producing a success. It gives Max an idea and after some gentle nudging and an afternoon of persuasion he convinces Leo to join his scheme. After some searching they come up with the perfect play to make a dead cert failure from; "Springtime for Hitler", a gay romp with Adolf and Eva.

There is a scene where Leo asks if Max has a minute and he pulls out a watch and starts counting down the seconds, harassing Leo in the process until he is worked up into a frenzy. It is meant to be amusing but unfortunately it didn't make me laugh. But then there is a scene where Max is romancing a little old lady who likes role playing and it is so ridiculously daft and so outrageous to watch this little old lady act out a character that you can't but help laugh almost in shock. But that is very indicative of my relationship with Mel Brooks movies as with the exception of "Blazing Saddles" I have found them hit and miss, amusing and disappointing me in equal measure. And "The Producers" despite being a hugely popular movie is no exception as sometimes it is amusing and sometimes it isn't.

The thing is that technically there is nothing wrong with "The Producers" it is a wild and wacky movie with every minute full of jokes from a musical number about Hitler to the chalk n cheese buddying going on between the theatrically over the top Max and the nervy Leo. But as they always say humour is subjective and watching the larger than life Max over whelm Leo did little for me as did jokes about cardboard belts yet the musical numbers and the general craziness of the story is still so much fun.

What is for sure is that Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder hold nothing back and deliver in their own ways larger than life characters, yes even nervy Leo is larger than life because he is so nervy and prone to sudden bursts of emotion. And the rest of the cast are just as good but can't compete with the performances of Mostel and Wilder which are unforgettable.

What this all boils down to is that "The Producers" didn't blow me away like it has for so many and again was a Mel Brooks movie which was hit and miss because as many jokes failed to make an impressions as those which did. I wouldn't say that "The Producers" is overrated but it is a movie where you need to love Mel Brooks to really enjoy it.