When The Mel Brooks Collection came out on Blu-ray, fans were quite disturbed at a missing title. It wasn’t Dracula: Dead and Loving It or Life Stinks. A ruckus was raised from the lack of The Producers. How can his first film be missing from the boxset? It’s not like this was one of those early movies that could be dismissed as “for completionists only.” Mel walked away with a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for his directorial debut. The absence of a comedy masterpiece was met with a lot of chatter on the internet. Stories went from tales of negative destruction to various lawsuits. Well there’s no need to listen to utter nonsense since the Blu-ray of The Producers: Collector’s Edition has arrived.
Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) is a small time producer who has a Rolodex full of old ladies that he romances into backing his Broadway plays. He’s got a comfortable racket going down. Leo Bloom (Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory‘s Gene Wilder) drops by the office to do the books. He notices that on the last play, Bialystock sold a few more percentages in his last play than 100 percent. Since the play was a flop, there’s not really that much of an issue. None of the backers would be collecting checks on their investment. This opens up the most unusual of crime plans. Max and Leo can unload an unlimited percentage of the play and never worry as long as there’s no profit. Thus the duo hatch a plan to make a fortune overselling a play that’s a sure thing to close after a single performance on the Great White Way. They do everything right when it comes to picking a wrong. They pick a musical that’s a positive view of the most evil man of the 2oth Century. They poorly cast a lead actor. But can this be the perfect crime? Spoiling The Producers should be treated as a crime.
Many comedies lose their humor over time. There’s plenty of movies that had audiences laughing until they cried, but now merely incite confusion. People do their best to explain why they recommended a cinematic dog. Thankfully The Producers hasn’t lost a single chuckle thanks to the immortal performances of Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel. Kenneth Mars adds the proper mix of insanity with his take on the fascist playwright. There’s a reason why this movie was able to be revived on Broadway nearly three decades later as a musical. What’s astounding is how much better the original film remains when compared to the musical. Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick might have ruled Broadway. Even with catchy songs, neither hold up to the magic of Mostel and Wilder. The Producers is a masterpiece that you better add to your Mel Brooks’ Blu-ray collection.
The video is 1.78.1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfer brings out the joyful grit of moviemaking in New York City. The resolution brings out the expressions of Wilder and Mostel. The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The musical moments come out so cleanly. There’s also the original mono mix for purists. The subtitles are in English, Spanish and French.
DVD has the movie and the bonus features.
The Making of The Producers (63:23) is from the Deluxe Edition DVD. The long documentary features an intermission. They break down the Hitler audition scene.
Mel and his Movies: The Producers (18:52) is from Shout’s The Incredible Mel Brooks: An Irresistible Collection of Unhinged Comedy. Mel once more talks about the journey from cinema stardom.
Deleted Scene (3:41) is from when they try to blow up the theater. It’s good to have more time with William Hickey.
Peter Seller’s Ad in Variety (0:53) has Paul Mazursky read the rave review.
Sketch Gallery (2:15) are production and wardrobe designs.
Trailers (2:12) features a groovy sell for the movie using title cards and frantic editing. It lays out the scam. There’s also trailers for American Masters’ Mel Brooks: Make A Noise and The Incredible Mel Brooks: An Irresistible Collection of Unhinged Comedy.
The Producers: Collector’s Edition is a Blu-ray that elevates the comedy its rightful place as a masterpiece. The resolution brings out the little details of the scam. The bonus features allow Mel Brooks to give the context of the movie.
Shout! Factory and MGM present The Producers. Directed by Mel Brooks. Screenplay by: Mel Brooks. Starring: Gene Wilder, Zero Mostel, Kenneth Mars and Dick Shawn. Running Time: 89 minutes. Rated: Unrated. Released: July 2, 2013. Available at Amazon.com.