Producers, The (50th Anniversary Edition) (Blu-ray) (1968)
Featurette-Q&A with Mel Brooks and Paul Mankiewicz (15:34)
Featurette-Making of The Producers (63:21)
Featurette-Tempo episode with Zero Mostel (25:26)
Gallery-Sketch Gallery (2:14)
Featurette-Soundtrack Spoofs (2:18)
Deleted Scenes-Playhouse Outtakes (3:41)
Featurette-Paul Mazursky reads Peter Sellers Ad (0:52)
Trailer-New 50th Anniversary Trailer (1:05)
|Year Of Production||1968|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Mel Brooks|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
French Linear PCM 48/16 2.0
German Linear PCM 48/16 2.0
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
French for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Washed up over the hill Broadway producer Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) has been reduced to romancing elderly ladies to get enough money to finance his next flop. That is until neurotic and timid accountant Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder), sent to do Bialystock’s books, inadvertently reveals to Max that a producer can make a lot of money from a flop; far more money can be raised to produce a play than is needed and with a flop no investor expects to be paid back. Max loves the idea and charms Leo into joining him. All they need is a play that is guaranteed to fail.
When they find a play by Franz Liebkind (Kenneth Mars), an eccentric, German helmet wearing Nazi pigeon fancier, called “Springtime for Hitler”, a gay romp with Adolf and Eva, they know they have a colossal disaster on their hands. Max sets out to woo a succession of elderly ladies; they sell 26,000% of the play and the money rolls in. Max and Leo rent a new, smart office and hire curvaceous Swedish blonde Ulla (Lee Meredith), who does not speak English, as their secretary. To make sure the play will fail they hire Roger De Bris (Christopher Hewett) as director, a flamboyant cross dresser who has directed an unbroken string of unmitigated disasters, and his oh so gay Personal Assistant Carmen Ghia (Andreas Voutsinas). Finally they cast Lorenzo St. Dubois, aka L.S.D. (Dick Shawn), a flower power hippie as spaced out as his initials, as Hitler. On opening night, leather clad, goosestepping male and female stormtroopers perform the opening chorus line number offending the staid audience; Max and Leo know they have succeeded in producing a disaster. What could go wrong?
The Producers was writer / director Mel Brooks’ first film, and what a way to get started! It is exuberant, frenetic, non-PC and with something to offend just about every minority group (except Blacks – there were probably none on Broadway) and with stereotypic gays, Scandinavian blondes, landladies, Jews, and Nazis. But the film gets away with it because it is totally anarchic and over the top, very funny (Brooks won an Oscar for best screenplay to everyone’s surprise, including his own) and with a wonderful cast.
Gene Wilder was Oscar nominated for best supporting actor (he lost out to Jack Albertson in The Subject Was Roses); his is the most restrained performance in The Producers, which is not saying much, and although he has his manic moments his speech in the court at the end is marvellous. The rest of the cast have little other than manic moments; Zero Mostel is all smarmy charm and bug-eyes, Kenneth Mars alternates Nazi marching songs with the American national anthem while spaced out Dick Shawn is the most unlikely Hitler imaginable. His audition song “Love Power”, although perhaps overshadowed by the full on “Springtime for Hitler”, is a scream. And Lee Meredith, Christopher Hewett and Andreas Voutsinas round out a perfect cast.
An amazing production number, over the top, manic performances, non-PC and with stereotypes ready to offend almost everyone, The Producers is fabulous, funny and wildly entertaining. It is a one-off, now 50 years old but has not aged. They don’t make ‘em like this anymore.
The Producers is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code. A text screen before the film states that this is a 4K 16 bit restoration from the camera negative.
Sometimes a little shadow detail is lost but overall this is a beautiful print. Close-up detail, such as Zero Mostel’s face, comb over fringe and bulging eyes, is clean and strong. Colours are deep and vibrant, including Max’s coat, Roger’s over the top apartment and the costumes. Blacks are solid, skin tones are on the deeper reddish side, contrast and brightness are consistent, marks and artefacts were absent.
English, French and German subtitles for the hearing impaired are available.
Audio choices are English DTS-HD MA 5.1 plus English, German and French LPCM 2.0 mono.
The film was released with mono audio and I mostly listened to the English mono track and sampled the 5.1. Not surprisingly the 5.1 had more separation but I did prefer the mono; it felt sharper and cleaner. Dialogue was always clear. There were not a lot of effects except for the audience voices and in the fountain sequence. The music and musical numbers composed by John Morris (with Brooks writing “Springtime for Hitler” and “We’re Prisoners of Love”, also came over clearly.
There are no lip synchronisation issues.
|Surround Channel Use|
TCM Host Ben Mankiewicz interviews the 91 year old Mel Brooks on stage at the 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, at least when he can get a word in due to Brooks’s interruptions. Brooks is lively and funny recalling how he cast Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder and Dustin Hoffman (who had to pull out due to being cast in The Graduate), pursuing his wife to be Anne Bancroft and directing his first film.
Made in 2002, this remains an amusing, entertaining and far-reaching look at The Producers covering the genesis of the idea, funding, casting, anecdotes from the shoot, production numbers, music and reactions to the film. It includes film footage, black and white pictures, script pages and comments by writer / director Mel Brooks, 1st assistant director Michael Hertzberg, cast Gene Wilder, Lee Meredith, Andreas Voutsinas and Kenneth Mars, composer John Morris, choreographer Alan Johnson, production designer Charles Rosen, casting director Alfa-Betty Olsen and filmmaker Paul Mazursky. It is presented in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio but is 1080i with LPCM audio and looks and sounds very good.
Paul Mazursky reads the ad Peter Sellers placed in the trade papers after attending a screening of The Producers.
Twenty black and white set sketches and designs that advance automatically to the film’s music.
One of the ABC “Tempo on Entertainers” episodes, this is a profile, interview and on-set shenanigans with Mostel in Madrid in about 1965 while shooting A Funny thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Black and white, 1.33:1, lots of artefacts and marks but very amusing.
A cut scene before the blowing up of the Playhouse.
Line readings and other stuff presented with a static screen.
50th anniversary 4K re-release trailer.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Producers has been released over the years in a number of versions including Collector’s Editions. This “50th Anniversary Edition” retains most, but not all, of the extras that have appeared over the years and adds a couple of new ones. This Australian release is identical to the UK version; there does not seem to be a comparable release in the US.
Fifty years on The Producers remains a fabulous film; an insane, anarchic romp that manages to insult just about everyone; very non-PC, very funny and very entertaining with a manic cast in top form.
This “50th Anniversary Edition” of The Producers retains most, but not all, of the extras that have appeared over the years and adds a couple of new ones. It also comes in a glorious 4K restoration. Fans should not hesitate to upgrade. Anyone who has not seen The Producers and wants to know what the fuss was about, this is the version to get.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|