Sunday, December 11, 2011

THE PRODUCERS Friday 16th December 8 pm

127 Campbell Street Collingwood
Friday December 16 8.30pm
Come one. Come all

Yup. The time has once more come for us to hang up our projectors and wander the world of the turn of the year with thoughts of presence and centre claws. It's xmas, folks, and what better carol than a rousing chorus of Springtime for Hitler. Be of best cheer and join us one last time.

Max is a fallen man. Once king of Broadway, he's reduced to romancing little old ladies to raise funds for plays that flop.When nebbish accountant Leo interrupts to inspect the books Max comes at him like a typhoon. Then Leo speaks a passing thought that more money could be made from a flop than a hit. Before he knows it he's an accomplice in one of the funniest cases of fraud to hit the big screen.

Max leads Leo through the Broadway machine, finding the worst director and cast to realise the worst play: (guaranteed to close on page four). But the best laid plans of mice and dethroned kings....

Mel Brooks assembled all his pro joke writing skills, experience as an assistant to a Broadway king, timing perfected in his already big hit Get Smart, and a cast made for their roles and delivered one of the most durable comedies in cinema history.

Zero Mostel thunders as Max Bialystock, a kind of Orson Welles on speed. Gene Wilder stepped into the role of Leo from a modest start as a serious stage actor to formulate the hysteria shtick that would serve him the rest of his career.

The opening scene of this film is a sustained personality clash that works almost like an explosive lab experiment and yet also manages to be witty in a literary sense. One notch below its tightness and you'd have an ok stage play. One notch too high on the frenetic nervous energy and it would be alienating. It is acted with precision and shot for the same precision in editing. It is perfectly judged.

Brooks had nursed both the idea of a memoir about his time as a Broadway producer's assistant and the notion of the worst play in the world for some time before it came together as Springtime for Hitler. By the time it went  into production and the depiction of the stage show was getting pushed far beyond cuteness the sole compromise Brooks had to make was that title. The plainer one chosen became the perfect finishing touch.

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