HTF REVIEW: "The Producers" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Oct 25, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    The Producers

    Studio: MGM
    Year: 1968
    Rated: NR
    Film Length: 90 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
    Subtitles: English and Spanish

    "Don't be shtoopid be a shmarty
    come and join the Nazi Party"

    There used to be a time that Mel Brooks made films. In his heyday,
    while putting out such hits as Blazing Saddles
    and Young Frankenstein, he was undeniably
    the biggest comic force in cinema. Of course, no-one
    remains on top forever, that is, unless you turn one
    of your most outrageous films, The Producers
    into a hit Broadway show. But let's go back to the
    In 1968, Mel Brooks made his directorial debute
    with a film called Springtime for Hitler, which
    was later renamed to The Producers. It had
    all the elements of a great Mel Brooks film -- a
    crazy storyline, lots of lunacy, and one of the most
    memorable songs in motion picture history.
    Broadway Producer Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) is
    washed out. He hasn't had a hit show in years, and
    now spends his time seducing little old ladies in
    hopes of raising cash for some sort of show that will
    put him back on top. Enter Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder),
    a high-strung accountant who informs Bialystock that
    he could actually make more money producing a
    Broadway flop than trying to make a hit. As Leo
    exclaims, "No one will expect anything back and you
    can pocket the difference."
    With this scheme in mind, the pair finds the worst
    play ever written, a script titled: "Springtime for
    Hitler: A Musical Romp with Adolf and Eva." Betting
    that this would be a sure-fire flop, they hire the
    worst director and actor possible, and make it a
    If you can't guess what happens next, I won't tell
    you anything. What I will tell you is that though
    this isn't Brook's funniest movie, it still remains
    his most lovable effort whose humor has certainly
    proven to stand the test of time.
    How is the transfer?
    This is nothing short of a revelation.
    You know, very little effort is given to comedy
    transfers on DVD. I have seen too many of my
    favorite comedies thrown on the format with such
    little regard as to how they look. Fortunately,
    MGM saw the value of this film, took the original
    film elements, and released a DVD that is totally
    worthy of its Special Edition label.
    Before I talk about how great this film looks,
    you must understand that I have seen countless
    lackluster transfers of this film on both VHS
    and television that generally looked muddy.
    Imagine my shock when I saw the opening moments
    of this transfer. My jaw just dropped! Here was
    an absolute clean transfer that looked as if it
    was delivered from above. This looks almost like
    a brand new film -- showing very little age, and
    without any of the muddiness that plagued the
    transfers that came before it. Colors are well
    balanced and quite vivid. You'll be amazed at
    how deeply red the curtains are in Max's office,
    or even how red a NYC taxi cab can be. Flesh tones
    look extremely accurate, and there's even some
    nice rock-solid black levels here (check out Max's
    suit later in the film). You can even see Wilder's
    deep blue eyes for the very first time. Outdoor
    scenes really show the beauty of this transfer,
    with some beautiful shots of Central Park that
    look crisp and clear.
    This transfer sports a brand new 5.1 Dolby Surround
    mix as well as containing a mono track. Don't be
    fooled by the 5.1 specs.....everything seems to get
    pushed to the center channel with the film's music
    score evening out the fronts. I don't think the rears
    ever came into play. You may actually find yourself
    switching to the mono track instead. The only nice
    thing I can say about the 5.1 mix is that it does
    improve the musical presentation of Springtime
    For Hitler
    , as I found the LFE channel rising
    to the occasion, emphasizing the musical beats of
    the song. It may be worth switching back to the
    5.1 mix during this scene just to see what it's like.
    Otherwise, both channels provide strong audio with
    nice dynamic range and no noticeable hiss.
    Special Features
    MGM has produced a rather interesting DVD that
    includes both a widescreen and full-frame
    version (selectable from Main Menu) on Side A
    and supplements on Side B.
    First up is The Making of The Producers,
    a brand-new documentary that becomes instantly
    exciting as it reunites all the surviving cast
    members. Gene Wilder remembers only wanting to
    be a stage actor when Mel Brooks approached him
    to star in his first film. Lee Meredith had no
    idea who any of the actors were that she was
    co-starring beside. Kenneth Mars admits that to
    prepare for his role, he took his German costume home
    and slept in it every night. Of course, there were
    many who were initially offended by the film, but in
    time, people saw it for what it was. What I found
    really amazing here is that the story of Max
    Bialystock is actually based on a Producer Mel worked
    for at the young age of 16. This producer actually
    seduced elderly women to finance his shows. Brooks
    goes on to talk about how he came to direct this film
    as well as how he used Zero Mostel's wife to convince
    her husband that this was a role he should do (Peter
    Sellers initially agreed to star). Brooks has one
    great story after another including one about the
    little old lady that lied about her age, and
    constantly kept poking Zero Mostel in the wrong
    places, prompting an angry response from the actor.
    This is an absolutely terrific featurette that will
    delight fans of this film. Do yourself a favor...
    as much as you might be sorry for doing so, don't
    miss the Intermission.
    (length: approx. 64 minutes)
    Sketch designs gives us an instrumental
    montage of several of the film's original production
    design conceptual drawings.
    (length: approx. 2 minutes)
    A Playhouse outtake features a deleted
    extension of the scene where Wilder, Mars and
    Mostel wire explosives beneath the theater.
    (length: approx. 3.3 minutes)
    A Photo Gallery contains about 40 stills
    from the film, as well as some funny moments with
    a very young Gene Wilder.
    As you will recall from my review, Peter Sellers
    was originally contacted for the lead in this film.
    He agreed, but for some reason, never returned
    contact afterwards. Included in on this DVD is Peter
    Sellers statement read by Paul Mazursky.
    Rounding out the extras is the film's Original
    theatrical trailer as well as trailers for the
    Special Edition DVDs of Fiddler On The Roof, The
    Princess Bride, The Greatest Story Ever Told
    Some Like it Hot. There is also a short
    promo for the Broadway soundtrack.
    Final Thoughts
    It's so nice when the wait for a classic comedy
    like this to DVD is rewarded with a transfer that
    justifies its delay. The Producers has
    been buffed and shined, in a remarkable new transfer
    that will certainly please old-timers like us, as
    well as winning over a whole new generation of youths
    who have never seen it before.
    Great job, MGM!
    Release Date: December 3, 2002
  2. Rain

    Rain Producer

    Mar 21, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Glad to hear this one is a winner.
    I look forward to picking it up and seeing The Producers for the first time ever!! [​IMG]
  3. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

    May 16, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Georgia (the state)
    Real Name:
    Patrick McCart
    Hitler was a wonderful dancer...

    Looks like another DVD I'll have to pick up. I'm VERY impressed by the screenshots. TCM just recently got the rights to the old laserdisc transfer (which is matted) after using a mediocre open matte transfer for a while, so it'll be nice to actually see the movie correctly.

    The documentary looks pretty good as well.
  4. Gary_E

    Gary_E Second Unit

    May 6, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Bialystock and Bloom
    Bialystock and Bloom
    The Producersis my most guilty pleasure. Glad to hear it's a winner, now I can retire my over-played Criterion LD.
    Thanks for the review Ron.
  5. Sarah S

    Sarah S Second Unit

    Feb 6, 2001
    Likes Received:
    I'm definitely there on street date. My husband & I are both big fans of this & the Broadway production...which I hope to see someday. [​IMG]
  6. Derek U

    Derek U Stunt Coordinator

    Sep 2, 2001
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    Great review, Ron! The picture looks gorgeous! I was going to put this on my Hannkukah list, but something tells me I won't be able to wait that long.

  7. Todd Terwilliger

    Todd Terwilliger Screenwriter

    Feb 18, 2001
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    I've been waiting for this DVD for so long!! Thanks for the great review!

  8. Scott_MacD

    Scott_MacD Supporting Actor

    May 13, 2001
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    Like Rain, I'm sure it'll be a joy to see this film for the first time. I've heard so much about it.

    Thanks for the review.
  9. Larry Sutliff

    Larry Sutliff Cinematographer

    Jun 17, 2000
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    Excellent review, Ron!

  10. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

    Dec 11, 2000
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    Ron, I'm jealous! I want this NOW! [​IMG]
    Glad to hear it's a nice disc. [​IMG]
  11. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

    Dec 20, 1999
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    Real Name:
    Peter Apruzzese
    Thanks for the advance good word on Mel Brooks' funniest film - can't wait to pick it up!
  12. Seth_S

    Seth_S Second Unit

    Oct 12, 2001
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    The screen shots alone blow away all previous home video versions. Lucklily, I'm going to get to see the restored print they used for the DVD on the big screen next week!
  13. Sean Moon

    Sean Moon Cinematographer

    Jan 25, 2001
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    OOOOHHHHH JOY! I cannot wait for this film! One of the best comedies ever made!

    "It's Springtime for Hitler and Germany! Winter for Poland and France! Bombs falling from the skies again! Deutchland is on the rise again!

    Watch out Europe, we're going on tour!"
  14. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator

    Oct 9, 2001
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    Rensselaer, NY
  15. Michael Harris

    Michael Harris Screenwriter

    Jun 4, 2001
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  16. Robert_eb

    Robert_eb Supporting Actor

    Sep 14, 2001
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    I'm glad they went all out on one of my favorite Mel Brooks films.

    Thanks for the informative review Ron!
  17. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

    Apr 15, 2002
    Likes Received:
    looks like another winner, like Rain & Scott, Never saw this before. It is now pre order time
    thanks again for the great review
  18. Keith Paynter

    Keith Paynter Screenwriter

    Mar 16, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Thanks, Ron!![​IMG]
    Hitler: "Hey! You're a German!"
    Officer: "We're all Germans!!"
    Hitler: "That's right! That means we can not attack Germany!"
  19. Sean Moon

    Sean Moon Cinematographer

    Jan 25, 2001
    Likes Received:
    "We can now recreate the Rape of Lucrecia! I will play Lucrecia!"
    "And I will be rape!"

    "Gotta have checkie! Cant make play without checkie!"
  20. John Knowles

    John Knowles Stunt Coordinator

    May 17, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Twin Cities, MN
    Real Name:
    Coool. I've been looking forward to retiring my crummy old Avco/Embassy open matte LD for a long time.

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