Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman, Will Ferrell, Roger Bart and Gary Beach

Susan Stroman

Running Time:
134 mins

Out to buy on DVD 24/04/06

"I want to be a Producer"

Leo Bloom

After a string of failures producer Max Bialystock (Lane) has lost every ounce of dignity to the point that he has to romance old ladies to get money to fund his next play. When the bank sends accountant Leo Bloom (Broderick) to check his records, Leo tells him that he would actually make more money having an enormous flop than a hit. This instantly gives Max an idea. He and Leo will produce sure-fire disaster and walk away with two million dollars.

First a movie, then a musical and now a movie again, Mel Brooks' 'The Producers' has transformed from the 1968 original.

The Tony award-winning show comes to the silver screen and takes you back to the heyday of the Hollywood musical. Adapted from his own comedy classic, the genius Mel Brooks has proved that he as gifted at writing songs as he is jokes. Transforming the original Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder starrer into an award winning Broadway musical is no easy task but 'The Producers' was already part way there.

With the 'Springtime for Hitler' musical as the backbone, Brooks wrote nine more songs to make this the perfect stage musical. After a sell-out run on Broadway, the musical opened around the world to even more critical acclaim and growing audiences, so it was inevitable that it would return to the silver screen.

The two actors that brought all the acclaim to the production return for the big screen adaptation. Nathan Lane steps into Zero Mostel's big shoes as the down on his luck Broadway producer Max Bialystock who has to sweet talk old ladies to raise funds for his usually disastrous plays. If anyone could breath new life into this classic character it would be Nathan Lane. Already an acclaimed musical performer, it is when Max is at his most sleazy when the character comes alive as old ladies swoon to his every corny line. Mathew Broderick has the unenviable task of taking on a role made famous by one of the greatest comedic actors of all time, Gene Wilder. The panic stricken, security blanket loving accountant was a brilliant Wilder creation and Broderick does his best to make the part his own. He dances and sings superbly but when it comes to having an episode of sheer panic he doesn't quite have the manic ability of Wilder. It is also hard for Broderick fans to see 'Ferris Bueller' acting like a totally uncool accountant with no self-confidence, who can't face the world.

Supporting the two Broadways stars are two actors new to musical theatre. Uma Thurman makes her first foray into song and dance and she proves again that she is an actress that can turn her talents to anything. As the Swedish secretary Ulla, she is the object of Max and Leo's lust, who just wants to please. This is a role that you can tell that Uma really enjoyed playing. While we have seen Will Ferrell sing and dance before during his comedic career, it is as Neo-Nazi, Adolf Hitler loving playwright Franz Liebkind that he really gets the chance to shine. This is a role that he really sinks his teeth into, making the character as hilarious as he should be. Add to these two more outstanding performances from Gary Beach and Roger Bart as the overly camp director Roger De Bris and his assistant Carmen Ghia and you have the making of a classic musical.

'The Producers' is a complete adaptation of the stage musical and bears more of a resemblance to the musicals of the 40, 50s and 60s and is the better for it. Director Susan Stroman and her creative team makes you feel like you are in a theatre and not a cinema, giving you the chance to see what it was like to see Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick on Broadway. Its old fashioned approach is quite refreshing and makes you hark back to the days of Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as Lane and Broderick evoke memories of these musical greats.

With some great songs, extremely funny set pieces and brilliant performances from the cast, 'The Producers' is the best way to see the stage musical for those of you who haven't seen chance to see Lane and Broderick on Broadway. The film is also delight for musical aficionados but there will be arguments between fans of the 1968 original and the musical version. This is still a Mel Brooks production nevertheless and however much Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom would like to try, this is not going to be a monster flop.



Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1, the movie is presented well showing the quality of the production design.


Commentary with director Susan Stroman
This is a strange commentary that feels more like she is reading from a pre-prepared script than reacting and commenting on the actual film live. Because of this is bombards you with information about adapting the awarding winning stage production to the big screen. She tells you who every single person is, if they are stage actors and if they appeared in the original Broadway show. The sets, locations and setting the film in 1959 is also discussed. While you do feel like you are been informed about the film but with the lack of spontaneity means that the commentary lacks any real passion.

Outtakes (15.14 mins)
Watch Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick fall about laughing so many times that you wonder how they actually got the movie made. We also see the various different versions of Max telling his old lady investors that he loves them. These are extremely funny and complement the film extremely well.

Deleted Scenes (19.38 mins)
Entitled 'King of Broadway', 'Hide & Seek', 'I wannabe a Producer', 'In old Bavana', 'Der guten tag hop-clop (reprise), 'Along came Baily (with Vignettes), 'That face (reprise)' and 'Astor Bar' these deleted or extended suffer from the lack of a commentary track or introduction to tell you why they were removed.

Analysis of a scene: 'I wannabe a Producer' (16.06 mins)
Producer/co-screenwriter/composer/lyricist Mel Brooks, director Susan Stroman, producer Jonathan Sangel, production designer Mark Friedberg, costume designer William Ivey Long, theatrical light designers Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer and star Matthew Broderick take you behind the scenes of the most elaborate song and dance set piece in the movie. From initial rehearsal, through set and costume design and onto filming the actual scene, this is an interesting featurette that show you how much work goes into a song and dance number in a movie musical.

Previews of 'Rent', 'Fun with Dick and Jane' and 'The Pink Panther'


The DVD package for the big screen musical version of 'The Producers' is a bit of a mixed bag. The featurette is informative and the outtakes and deleted scenes are good but the commentary is a little strange, as it seems like director Susan Stroman is reading from a script. It would have been far better if Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick could have done one instead. This aside, fans of the movie should be pleased with the package.


The Producers (1968)

The Usher Home | Hush, Hush... | The Big Story | The Usher Speaks

Stuck @ Home | Coming Soon | Links | Contact the Usher