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The Producers
Rating: PG
Release Date: December 3, 2002
Running Time: approximately 90 minutes
Ten-second Rundown: A failed Broadway producer and his nebbish accountant purposely try to back a bomb - "Springtime For Hitler" - that succeeds beyond all expectations.

  • Deleted Scene: "Playhouse"
  • Documentary: The Making of The Producers
  • sketch gallery
  • photo gallery
  • Paul Mazursky reads Peter Sellers' statement that boosted the film's release
  • trailers

    Choice Scene:The opening number to "Springtime For Hitler."

    Tech Specs: Full Frame and Wide Screen (1.85:1) versions, English Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby 2.0, English, French and Spanish subtitles

    Seen today, it may be hard to appreciate just how ground-breaking Mel Brooks' first film really was. One scene within it best captures what many audiences may have felt: after the flamboyant title number for "Springtime For Hitler," the camera turns on the shell-shocked theatergoers. Dead silence fills the screen as they try to process what exactly they just saw.

    So, too, did initial movie-going audiences look on slackjawed. Because of its incendiary subject matter, turning the Third Reich into a musical fantasia, the original production company tried to quietly dump the film. In the 1960's, no one was sure if audiences would get the joke when a dancing SS member sang out, "Don't be stupid, be a smarty, come and join the Nazi Party." Luckily, the right person did.

    Only by accident did a stoned Peter Sellers view the film, and take out an ad in Variety at his own expense extolling its virtues. The comedy giant called it the funniest film of all time, and people started checking it out.

    Is it the funniest film of all time? That's for you to argue, but it still has power. Not coincidentally, MGM has delivered the fine DVD package that the film deserves.

    Brooks lets the film speak for itself on one side of the disc, instead opting to dominate a documentary on the making of his classic debut. With the help of the surviving cast and major crewmembers, Brooks does a fair job of conveying how difficult it was to bring his vision to the screen.

    Ironically, when he was working on the script, he considered turning it into a play, but friends told him it had too many locations for such. Brooks has, of course, turned The Producers into a Broadway musical in its own right, though it barely rates a mention in the extras.

    The documentary isn't all about him, however. Warm remembrances and anecdotes come from several of those who participated. Though the interviews all occurred separately, everybody seems to have their stories straight. Anyone who has enjoyed Kenneth Mars this season on Malcolm In The Middle has already picked up how far he is willing to go to be funny; as the Nazi playwright, his methods made people a little nervous. In fact, it seems like Gene Wilder is still afraid of him.

    Surprisingly for a film this old, the disc includes an alternate extended take on the film's climactic scheme. Though it's a little scratchy, it's still clear, and though it adds little comedy, the outtake serves as interesting history.

    If you think you know the writer/director from lesser efforts like Robin Hood: Men In Tights and Dracula: Dead and Loving It, you don't. The Producers stands as a classic comedy, and a must-have for a home video fan.

    The Producers (Special Edition)

    Derek McCaw


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