The Producers

The Producers

The New Mel Brooks Musical : Original Broadway Cast Recording

Music CD - 2001
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Jun 28, 2018

I will admit I was skeptical when I learned there were plans to turn the 1967 classic--one of my all-time favorite films--into a Broadway musical, even with the master himself, Mel Brooks, guiding the proceedings. But it worked, and so pretty much does this musical film adaptation of the Broadway show.

Of course it helps that a very funny Matthew Broderick (such a charming wise guy in the 1986 John Hughes teen classic "Ferris Bueller's Day Off") recreates with winning warmth the shy Leo Bloom, both on stage and in this adaptation. It helps that leggy Uma Thurman sparkles as the sexy, vivacious "personal secretary" Ulla (and handles her big number "When You've Got It, Flaunt It" just fine). Having the reliably hilarious Will Ferrell on hand for the role of Franz Liebkind was a very good idea too.

I want to say that much as I adore Mel Brooks, I've had issues over the years with the way he has portrayed gay men in some of his films. Everyone's fair game in comedy I suppose, but some of the queer parody has been gratuitously homophobic and mean-spirited, walking right up to and occasionally stepping over the line. (Try being gay kid watching Dom DeLuise's sissy movie director in "Blazing Saddles" without wincing, as just one early example.)

Here the gay element is more knowing and playful, as epitomized by the sassy production number "Keep It Gay." Gary Beach gives flamboyant "Springtime For Hitler" director Roger De Bris a Judy Garland complex that is both endearing and falling out of your seat funny, and Roger Bart, as Mr. De Bris's "personal, private secretary" Carmen Ghia, matches Beach quip for arch quip.

But the best casting decision of all was/is Nathan Lane, by now I think a national treasure, in the role of the almost indescribable Max Bialystock. The legendary Zero Mostel ("A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum," the Broadway cast production of "Fiddler On the Roof") made the role so uniquely his own in the 1967 original that it was hard (really, really hard) to imagine anyone else could step into it, no matter how talented.

This is why God gave us Nathan Lane, who pulls off the high-wire act of evoking the spirit of Zero while bringing to the party his own particularly zany gifts for physical and verbal comedy. Lane is so funny he could, as the old saying goes, make us laugh just standing there reading the phonebook, and he and Broderick have a chemistry in its way as poignant and hilarious as Mostel and Gene Wilder.

I could go on, but why? Borrow (or buy) this movie and find out all this for yourself if you don't know already!

Feb 02, 2018

Three words: Hilarious. Outrageous. Wonderful.

The soundtrack to the hit musical features incredible song highlights such as "I Wanna Be a Producer", "We Can Do It", and "When You Got It, Flaunt It" as well as the smash "Springtime For Hitler". Even the shorter, lesser known tracks display the same infectious sense of humor. The simple advice is this: pick up the album as soon as you can.


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