review for The Producers on AllMovie

The Producers (1968)
by Dan Jardine review

The Producers received two Oscar nominations: one went to Gene Wilder for Best Supporting Actor and the second went to Mel Brooks, who won for Best Original Screenplay in his hilarious feature-film debut. With an opening number that ranks among comic cinema's greatest, and boasting zesty tongue-in-cheek performances by Zero Mostel, Wilder, and Dick Shawn, The Producers is a delightful parody of the old Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney "let's put on a show in the old barn" comedies. The film also is a not-so-subtly veiled assault on the dubious ethics at work in the business side of the Hollywood movie industry. It's filled with some of the funniest dialogue in the entire Mel Brooks' canon, combined with some of the most outrageous musical numbers -- made all the more effective due to their compositional authenticity -- in film history, including the immortal production of "Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva." Who else but Mel Brooks would have the audacity to turn Hitler into the object of his comedy? The movie does not depend upon the rapid anarchic pacing of a Marx Brothers' film to grab the audience. Brooks almost purposefully slows the story down so we can enjoy the comic repartee between the wonderfully cast Mostel and Wilder. The Producers is one of those rare comedies that actually manages to be greater than the sum of its many very funny comedic parts.