The Producers (2005 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Producers
Theatrical movie poster for The Producers
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Susan Stroman
Produced by Mel Brooks
Written by Mel Brooks
Thomas Meehan
Starring Nathan Lane
Matthew Broderick
Uma Thurman
Will Ferrell
Music by Mel Brooks
Thomas Meehan
Cinematography John Bailey
Edited by Steven Weisberg
Production
  company
Relativity Media
Brooksfilms
Distributed by Universal Pictures
(North America)
Columbia Pictures
(Overseas)
Release date(s)
  • December 16, 2005 (2005-12-16)
Running time 134 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $45 million
Box office $38,058,335

The Producers is a 2005 American musical-comedy film directed by Susan Stroman. The film stars Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman, Gary Beach, Roger Bart, and Will Ferrell. The film is an adaptation of the 2001 Broadway musical, which in turn was based on the 1968 film of the same name starring Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, and Andreas Voutsinas. It was produced and distributed domestically by Universal Pictures and overseas by Columbia Pictures.

The creature effects for Tom the Cat and the performing pigeons were provided by Jim Henson's Creature Shop.

Plot[edit]

Following the flop of theatre musical "Funny Boy" (based on William Shakespeare's Hamlet) ("Opening Night"), the show's washed-up producer, Max Bialystock hires the neurotic Leo Bloom as his accountant. While studying Max's books, Leo notes that, since a flop is expected to lose money, the IRS won't investigate the finances of failed productions. Leo then jests that, by selling an excess of shares and embezzling the funds, a flop could generate up to $2 million. Deciding to enact the plan, Max asks for Leo's help with the scheme, only for the latter to refuse ("We Can Do It").

Returning to his old accounting firm, Leo soon starts fantasizing about being a Broadway producer ("I Wanna Be a Producer"). Realizing that he wants to take the risk, Leo quits his job and forms "Bialystock & Bloom" with Max. Searching for the worst play written, the duo finds Springtime for Hitler, a musical written by an eccentric ex-Nazi named Franz Liebkind. Max and Leo, in order to acquire Liebkind's rights to the musical, perform Hitler's favorite song and swear the sacred "Siegfried Oath" to him ("Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop").

In order to ensure the play's failure, Max and Leo meet failing, flamboyant director Roger De Bris and his assistant Carmen Ghia. De Bris is reluctant to direct, but when Max and Leo suggest he could win a Tony, he agrees on the condition that the play be more "gay" ("Keep It Gay"). Returning to their office, a beautiful Swedish woman named Ulla, appears to audition. Despite Leo objecting they haven't started casting, Max insists on hiring her as their secretary until they audition her later ("When You've Got It, Flaunt It").

To gain backers to fund the musical, Max has dalliances with several elderly women ("Along Came Bialy"), allowing him to raise the $2 million. Finding himself attracted to Ulla, Leo laments about the dangers of sex straying him from his work, only for a kiss to occur between Leo and Ulla ("That Face"). Starting auditions for the role of Hitler, Franz becomes angered at a performer's rendition of a German song, causing Franz to storm the stage and perform it ("Haben Sie gehört das Deutsche Band?"). Based on the performance, Max hires Franz to play Hitler.

On opening night, as the cast and crew prepare to go on stage, Leo wishes everyone "good luck," to which everyone warns it is "bad luck" to say "good luck" on opening night, and that the correct phrase is to say "break a leg" ("You Never Say Good Luck on Opening Night"). Franz leaves to prepare and, in his rush, literally breaks his leg. Max enlists Roger to perform the role in his place, and Roger accepts.

As the show opens, the audience is horrified at the first song ("Springtime for Hitler"), and people begin leaving out of disgust until Roger enters as Hitler. Roger, playing Hitler very flamboyantly, causes the audience to misinterpret the play as satire, resulting in the show becoming a surprise smash. Terrified the IRS will learn of their crimes, a dispute breaks out between Max and Leo. Franz then appears, and attempts to shoot the duo for breaking the "Siegfried Oath" by mocking Hitler, only to attract the police with gunshots. Max and Franz attempt to evade the police, only for Franz to break his other leg.

Arrested for his tax fraud, Max is imprisoned while Leo escapes by hiding from the police. Found by Ulla, Leo elopes with her to Rio de Janeiro, leaving Max to his fate ("Betrayed"). About to be sentenced in court, Max is saved by Leo, who returns to defend him ("'Til Him"). The judge, realizing Max and Leo are inseparable, sentences them both to five years at Sing Sing Prison with Franz. Writing and producing a new musical in prison ("Prisoners of Love"), Leo, Max, and Franz are pardoned by the Governor for their work, allowing them to collaborate with Roger and Ulla and release "Prisoners of Love." The play's success means Max and Leo go on to become successful Broadway producers.

In a post-credits scene, the cast sings "Goodbye!", telling the audience to leave the theater. Mel Brooks appears at the end of the song and says, "It's over."

Cast[edit]

Ernie Sabella, Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick's co-star from The Lion King, makes a brief appearance in the deleted song "You'll Find Your Happiness in Rio" as a drunk bar patron.

Puppeteers[edit]

Soundtrack[edit]

The Producers Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Various Artists
Released Nov 16, 2005
Genre Broadway
Label Sony
Producer Doug Besterman
  1. "Overture" - Orchestra
  2. "Opening Night" - Opening Nighters
  3. "We Can Do It" - Max and Leo
  4. "I Wanna Be a Producer" - Leo, Accountants, Mr. Marks and Dancing Chorus Girls
  5. "Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop" - Franz, Max, and Leo
  6. "Keep It Gay" - Roger, Carmen, Max, Leo, and Company
  7. "When You Got It, Flaunt It" - Ulla
  8. "Along Came Bialy" - Max and Little Old Ladies
  9. "That Face" - Leo and Ulla
  10. "Haben Sie gehört das Deutsche Band?" - Franz
  11. "You Never Say Good Luck on Opening Night" - Roger, Carmen, Franz, Max, and Leo
  12. "Springtime for Hitler (Part I)" - Soldiers, Girls, and Company
  13. "Heil Myself" - Roger and Company
  14. "Springtime for Hitler (Part II)" - Roger, Ulla, and Company
  15. "You'll Find Your Happiness in Rio" - Samba Band
  16. "Betrayed" - Max
  17. "'Til Him" - Max, Leo, and Little Old Ladies
  18. "Prisoners of Love (Broadway)" - Prisoners, Ulla, and Company
  19. "Prisoners of Love (Leo and Max)" - Leo and Max
  20. "There's Nothing Like a Show on Broadway" - Leo and Max
  21. "The Hop-Clop Goes On" - Franz
  22. "Goodbye!" - Leo, Max, Ulla, Franz, Roger, Carmen, Company, Mr. Marks, Accountants, Stormtroopers, Dancing Chorus Girls, and Mel Brooks
  23. "The King of Broadway" - Max (deleted scene on DVD)

Reception[edit]

The Producers received mixed or average reviews from critics. One positive online review said: "Outrageous musical numbers evoke most of the laughs in this movie funfest. Eat your heart out, Rockettes, because here comes a little old ladies’ chorus line (“Along Came Bialy”) to rival your success. Watch out, real-life producers, for an actor named Gary Beach (“Heil Myself”). Never, and I mean never, hire him if you want your play to flop! And stop spinning in your grave, Florenz Ziegfeld. Those “Springtime for Hitler and Germany” showgirls are all in good fun. Finally, congratulations to director Susan Stroman, for making this Broadway gem into a film that old-time movie musical fans like me can cheer about."[2]

Nathan Rabin wrote: "Between the rough start and an ending that lingers too long, there's a solid hour or so of terrific entertainment that serves as both a giddy tribute to Broadway musicals and a parody thereof. Thirty-seven years after Brooks declared war on taste and propriety, 'The Producers' has lost its power to shock or offend, but it's retained its ability to amuse."[3]

Roger Ebert cited difficulty in reviewing the film due to familiarity with the original 1968 film. However, he did state that the new version was "fun" and gave it three stars (out of a possible four). Said Ebert: "The new movie is a success, that I know. How much of a success, I cannot be sure."[4]

In addition to these positive reviews, it was nominated for four Golden Globes (including nominations for actors Ferrell and Lane).

Most negative reviews suggested that the performances were tuned more for the theater rather than for film. Stephanie Zacharek observed: "'The Producers' is essentially a filmed version of a stage play, in which none of the characters' expressions or line readings have been scaled down to make sense on-screen. Every gesture is played out as if the actors were 20 feet away in real life, which means that, by the time the performers are magnified on the big screen, they're practically sitting in your lap. The effect is something like watching a 3-D IMAX film without the special glasses."[5]

Allusions[edit]

  • In the song "Opening Night", a newspaper theatre review is shown on the screen; on the byline, credit is given to Addison DeWitt, the theatre critic played by George Sanders in All About Eve.
  • When Leo shouts "Stop the world, I wanna get on!" it is a reference to the musical Stop the World - I Want to Get Off.
  • When Max is visiting the old ladies in their apartment buildings, he pushes several intercom buttons, labeled with names of the residents they refer to. Many of these are references: Anne Bancroft, The Great Gatsby, the name of a department store, the Tisch School of Arts and Tisch Hospital at New York University, Citizen Kane, Edith Wharton, Andrew Carnegie, John Jacob Astor V, John D. Rockefeller, and Joseph Pulitzer, who established the Pulitzer Prize.
  • While talking about the $2,000 missing from Max's books after "Funny Boy", the calendar behind Max and Leo reads June 16. The date is known as "Bloomsday" (later referenced when Leo and Max agree go ahead with their plan) by fans of James Joyce and his novel Ulysses. Joyce's character Leopold Bloom experiences extraordinary things on what's supposed to be an ordinary day - June 16.
  • At the end of "The Hop-Clop Goes On" during the end credits, Franz whispers, "Don't forget to buy Mein Kampf, in paperback. Available near you at Borders Books or Barnes & Noble und Amazon.com."
  • When Max and Leo are searching for the worst play ever written in Act 1, Max reads out the opening sentence of The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, but dismisses it as "too good".
  • While in Sing Sing, the inmates are seen rehearsing a dance for Prisoners of Love. This is the same dance done by Dr. Frankenstein and the Frankenstein Monster in Young Frankenstein.
  • When Leo is looking over the contracts in the office, he repeats, "work, work, work" several times, a reference to Mel Brooks' character in Blazing Saddles.
  • When Max receives a postcard from Leo while he is in prison, he asks guard, "Who do I know in Brazil? Why am I asking you?" This is a reference to Hedley Lamarr in Blazing Saddles.
  • When Leo and Max leave Franz's rooftop, Franz shuts the door and says "what nice guys!", a reference to Lili von Shtupp's line in Blazing Saddles when Bart leaves her dressing room.
  • In Roger De Bris first appearance, he is in an evening gown, costumed as "Grand Duchess Anastasia". Both the design of the dress, the tiara and the wig he uses share remarkable similarities to the character design of Anastasia, the eponymous character of the film by Don Bluth.
  • In the song "Heil Myself", after the words "I'm the German Ethel Merman, don't ya'know!", the trumpet plays the opening notes from the overture to the musical Gypsy.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "THE PRODUCERS (12A)". Sony Pictures Releasing. British Board of Film Classification. November 30, 2005. Retrieved September 30, 2013. 
  2. ^ ReelTalk Movie Reviews
  3. ^ The Producers
  4. ^ Ebert, Roger (2005-12-16). "The Producers review". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 2007-01-26. 
  5. ^ Zacharek, Stephanie,"The Producers", retrieved January 26, 2007 from salon.com

External links[edit]