THE PRODUCERS (Mel Brooks, 1968)
Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater
165 West 65th St. at Amsterdam Ave.
Thursday, November 3, 8:30, and Monday, November 7, 1:45
Series runs November 3-13
No way around it; this is one funny movie. Written and directed by Mel Brooks (who won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay), The Producers stars Zero Mostel as Max Bialystock, a once great Broadway producer now relegated to wooing old ladies for their checkbooks. Gene Wilder earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor as Leo Bloom, a by-the-book accountant who figures out that it could be possible to make more money from a bomb than a hit. And the bomb they turn to is the extraordinary Springtime for Hitler, featuring a great turn by Kenneth Mars as a neo-Nazi. Brooks, Mostel, Wilder, Mars, and the rest of the crazy cast — which also includes Dick Shawn, Lee Meredith, Estelle Winwood, Christopher Hewett, Renee Taylor, Barney Martin, Bill Macy, and William Hickey — don’t just play it for laughs but for giant guffaws and jaw-dropping disbelief in this riotous romp that was turned into a very good but overrated Broadway musical and a terrible film version of the show, both starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, neither of whom can fill Mostel and Wilder’s shoes. The Producers is screening November 3 at 8:30 and on November 7 at 1:45 as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s “Hollywood’s ‘Jew Wave’” festival, being held not far from the very fountain where one pivotal Producers scene takes place. Mostel can also be seen November 12 in Ján Kadár’s oddball rarity The Angel Levine, in which he plays Morris Mishkin, a lonely old Jew suddenly visited by a cool black man (Harry Belafonte) who claims to be an angel sent down from heaven to help him. The series continues through November 13 with screenings of such films as Robert Altman’s California Split, William Wyler’s Funny Girl, Larry Peerce’s Goodbye, Columbus, Hy Averback’s I Love You, Alice B. Toklas, and Bob Fosse’s Lenny, with many special guests on hand to participate in introductions and Q&As.