The Producers (2005 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Susan Stroman|
|Produced by||Mel Brooks|
|Written by||Mel Brooks
|Music by||Mel Brooks
|Editing by||Steven Weisberg|
|Distributed by||Universal Studios (US)
Columbia Pictures (Global)
|Running time||134 minutes|
The Producers is a 2005 American comedy-musical 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 distributed overseas by Columbia Pictures.
The flop musical "Funny Boy" (based on William Shakespeare's Hamlet) opens – and closes ("Opening Night"). Afterward, Leo Bloom (Matthew Broderick) arrives at the office of the show's washed up producer, Max Bialystock (Nathan Lane). Max has hired Leo Bloom as his accountant. While studying Max's books, Leo inadvertently inspires Max to gain more money with a flop than a hit by putting on a show that is certain to fail at the box office after collecting an excessive amount of money from their backers and cleverly changing their accounts, leaving them with $2,000,000 to spend. At first, Leo refuses to participate. Max, who cannot change the books himself, attempts to coax Leo into the scheme ("We Can Do It"), but Leo still refuses and returns to his old accounting firm, Whitehall & Marks.
After being chastised by Mr. Marks (Jon Lovitz), Leo fantasizes about being a Broadway producer ("I Wanna Be a Producer"). Realizing that he wants to get into the world and take this risk, Leo quits his job and, with Max, forms Bialystock & Bloom. Max and Leo search for "the worst play ever written" and discover Springtime for Hitler, written by an ex-Nazi named Franz Liebkind (Will Ferrell). They are coerced into performing Adolf Hitler's favorite tune and swearing the sacred "Siegfried Oath" in order to gain Liebkind's signature for Broadway rights to the musical ("Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop"). They solicit a flamboyant gay director, Roger De Bris (Gary Beach) ("the worst director in the world") and his faithful theatrical companion, Carmen Ghia (Roger Bart), to direct and choreograph the play. Roger initially refuses saying that the musical is far too dark and gritty and that Broadway needs to be more "gay" ("Keep It Gay"). He is talked into it, however, after being enticed by Max and Leo, who tell him that if he directs the play, he is certain to win a Tony. Then, Ulla (Uma Thurman), a beautiful Swedish woman, appears at their office for casting despite there being no auditions. Max insists on hiring her as their secretary and auditioning her ("When You've Got It, Flaunt It").
To gain the finances for the musical Max has dalliances with every old lady across town ("Along Came Bialy"). Max and Leo return to the office to discover that Ulla has redecorated it to be entirely white. After Max leaves, Leo laments about Ulla and the dangers of sex straying him from his work, but the attraction between them nevertheless culminates in a kiss between Leo and Ulla ("That Face"). Later, at the auditions for the role of Hitler, Franz becomes angered at a performer's rendition of Hitler's favorite German song. Franz storms the stage and sings the song the correct way ("Haben Sie gehört das Deutsche Band"). 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 the players are horrified. They explain to Leo that it is in fact "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 and begins to walk out until Roger steps on stage as Hitler. Because his performance is so flamboyant, the audience misinterprets the play as an anti-Nazi parody and a mockery of Hitler rather than Franz's original vision ("Springtime for Hitler"). As a result, the show is a success and the IRS will be keeping tabs on Max and Leo. After the show, an angry Franz starts trying to shoot the producers for, despite his show being a hit, making a fool out of Hitler and broken the "Siegfried Oath". However, the police arrest him after hearing the shots, but not before he breaks his other leg while trying to escape. Max, too, gets arrested for his tax fraud. Leo hides away from the police, and Ulla finds him hanging on a coat hanging rod; then, they escape to Rio de Janeiro ("Betrayed"), but they return to stand up for Max in court when Leo realizes that Max is the one person who has ever shown him any degree of respect ("'Til Him"). The judge sentences them both to five years at Sing Sing, but they and Franz are pardoned by the Governor after writing a musical in prison ("Prisoners of Love"). At the end, they go on to become successful Broadway producers.
- Nathan Lane as Max Bialystock
- Matthew Broderick as Leopold "Leo" Bloom
- Will Ferrell as Franz Liebkind
- Uma Thurman as Ulla
- Gary Beach as Roger De Bris
- Roger Bart as Carmen Ghia
- Jon Lovitz as Mr. Marks
- Michael McKean as Prison Trustee
- David Huddleston as Judge
- Richard Kind as Jury Foreman
- Eileen Essell as Hold Me-Touch Me
- Debra Monk as Lick Me-Bite Me
- Andrea Martin as Kiss Me-Feel Me
- John Barrowman as the Lead Tenor Stormtrooper
|The Producers Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by Various Artists|
|Released||Nov 16, 2005|
- "Overture" - Orchestra
- "Opening Night" - Opening Nighters
- "We Can Do It" - Max and Leo
- "I Wanna Be a Producer" - Leo, Accountants, Mr. Marks and Dancing Chorus Girls
- "Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop" - Franz, Max, and Leo
- "Keep It Gay" - Roger, Carmen, Max, Leo, and Company
- "When You Got It, Flaunt It" - Ulla
- "Along Came Bialy" - Max and Little Old Ladies
- "That Face" - Leo and Ulla
- "Haben Sie gehört das Deutsche Band?" - Franz
- "You Never Say Good Luck on Opening Night" - Roger, Carmen, Franz, Max, and Leo
- "Springtime for Hitler (Part I)" - Soldiers, Girls, and Company
- "Heil Myself" - Roger and Company
- "Springtime for Hitler (Part II)" - Roger, Ulla, and Company
- "You'll Find Your Happiness in Rio" - Samba Band
- "Betrayed" - Max
- "'Til Him" - Max, Leo, and Little Old Ladies
- "Prisoners of Love (Broadway)" - Prisoners, Ulla, and Company
- "Prisoners of Love (Leo and Max)" - Leo and Max
- "There's Nothing Like a Show on Broadway" - Leo and Max
- "The Hop-Clop Goes On" - Franz
- "Goodbye!" - Leo, Max, Ulla, Roger, Carmen, Mr. Marks, Accountants, Dancing Chorus Girls, and Mel Brooks
- "The King of Broadway" - Max (deleted scene on DVD)
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."
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."
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."
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."
||This section contains embedded lists that may be poorly defined, unverified or indiscriminate. (March 2012)|
- 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 Bloom 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 song "The Hop-Clop Goes On" 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".
- Young Frankenstein; while in Sing Sing prison, the inmates are seen rehearsing a dance for Prisoners of Love. This is the same dance done by Dr. Frederick Frankenstein and the Frankenstein Monster.
- 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?" 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.
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