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THE PRODUCERS

And after that, we'll play, "The Abduction and the Cruel Rape of Lucretia", and I'll be Lucretia...
...And I’ll be rape.

This pin used to hold a pearl the size of your eye. Look at me now,
LOOK AT ME NOW!
I'm wearing a cardboard belt!

"Springtime for Hitler" a gay romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden... Wow!

...Are you kidding? This play's guaranteed to close on PAGE FOUR!

Max Bialystock is launching himself into little old lady land.

Don't be stupid, be a smarty. Come and join the Nazi party.

How could this happen? I was so careful.
I picked the wrong play... the wrong director...
the wrong cast... Where did I go right?

There’s not a doubt in my mind, THE PRODUCERS ($30) is one of the funniest movies ever made. This debut film from writer/director Mel Brooks garnered the comedy legend his only Oscar, but Brooks still had several decades worth of hilarity to lay on movie fans. While later films like YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN and BLAZING SADDLES may have garnered greater recognition from fans during Brooks’ movie career, THE PRODUCERS clearly remains his finest artistic achievement in the cinema. That is probably why I wasn't surprise when Brooks decided to revisit THE PRODUCERS, and adapt this zany comic gem for the stage, where it became one of the most critically acclaimed Broadway musicals of all time.

The plot of THE PRODUCERS concerns a down-on-his-luck Broadway producer named Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel), who has taken to romancing little old ladies as a means keeping his head above water. Into the quagmire of Max’s existence comes a neurotic accountant named Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder), who is required to audit the books of the producer’s last Broadway flop. While going over the books, Leo discovers that Max actually raised $2,000.00 more than the production actually cost and was able to pocket the difference. It is at this point, that Leo makes the passing comment that a producer could theoretically make more money with a flop, than he could with a hit.

Seeing dollar signs before his eyes, Max hatches a scheme to produce a surefire flop and head off to Rio with a small fortune in investor money. In his quest to produce the mother of all Broadway flops, Max selects Springtime For Hitler, a love letter to Der Fuhrer by demented former German soldier Franz Liebkind (Kenneth Mars)- a play that Max guarantees will close on page four. Of course, Max isn’t taking any chances with his flop, so he hires Roger De Bris (Christopher Hewett), the worst possible director, who wants to turn the show into a tasteless, gaudy musical extravaganza. On top of all that, Max casts a spaced out flower child with the moniker LSD (Dick Shawn) in the lead role of Adolph Hitler. The loopy cast of THE PRODUCERS also includes a hilarious turn from Estelle Winwood as the most notablr old lady in Max's stable, plus Renée Taylor, Lee Meredith and Andréas Voutsinas.

Shout Factory (via MGM Home Entertainment) has made THE PRODUCERS available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. For a modest 1968 production, THE PRODUCERS looks quite spry on Blu-ray; and let me add that this is the absolute best THE PRODUCERS has ever looked in the home venue. For the most part, the image is crisp, displaying the kind of visual detail one would expect from a production of this vintage. Close ups and medium shots contain the most visual detail; while longer shots come off as a tad softer. It is the close-ups that really impress; as they highlight the clarity and visual richness of the high definition master used for this Blu-ray release. Optical effects, fades and dissolves are a limiting factor, as they involve dupey elements that are noticeably softer than unprocessed principle photography. Colors look really nice; displaying very good saturation and correct looking flesh tones. Contrast is also quite nice, and shadow detail is right on par for this type of late 1960's film production. The elements from which THE PRODUCERS has been transferred are relatively free from signs of age, with only the mildest of blemishes remaining. Glorious grain is ever present, but always on the mild side.

THE PRODUCERS is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Considering that the original monaural track for THE PRODUCERS had been repurposed into 5.1 for a previous DVD release, the DTS-HD rendering sounds even better. For all intents and purposes the 5.1 channel mix provides a slightly wider presence for the original monaural recordings, with only a modest sense of directionality. Despite the limited fidelity of the original recordings, the musical numbers and the film's score are pleasantly rendered and manage to sound quite enjoyable when amplified. Dialogue is perfectly reproduced, so one can understand each and every joke. The soundtrack appears to have been digitally cleaned to remove all signs of background hiss and surface noise during the re-mix/re-mastering phase, which is a big plus. The film's original monaural track is also encoded onto the Blu-ray in PCM lossless. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as, the supplements, most of which have been ported from the DVD release. Starting things off is a sixty-four minute documentary entitled The Making of The Producers. Produced for an earlier DVD release, the documentary is presented in "five acts" and features interviews with writer/director Mel Brooks and cast members Gene Wilder, Kenneth Mars and Andréas Voutsinas and Lee Meredith. While I found the program to be both highly entertaining and informative, the most amazing thing about the documentary is how good actress Lee Meredith looks more than three decades later- I think this woman might have been even more gorgeous then, than when she made the film. Mel And His Movies: The Producers is a new eighteen minute interview with Mel Brooks, who discusses the film and its significance.

Also included on the Blu-ray is a Sketch Gallery that offers a look at the original designs for the film's sets. The Playhouse Outtake is a deleted scene from the movie, which is rather amusing but would have slowed the film's pacing in the final act. Peter Sellers Statement Read By Paul Mazursky offers the actor/director telling the story of how the late comic genius had taken out full-page ads in the trades heralding THE PRODUCERS as one of the greatest screen comedies of all time. The film's Theatrical Trailer and Bonus Trailers close out the extras.

Even after forty five years, THE PRODUCERS remains one of the most hilarious cinematic gems in the Mel Brooks canon... and one of the funniest movies of all time. The Blu-ray looks wonderful and offers fans a delightful complement of supplements. Absolutely recommended.

 
THE PRODUCERS 


The Producers (Collector's Edition) [BluRay/DVD Combo] [Blu-ray] (1968)

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DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright © 2013 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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