Mel Brook’s 1967 Oscar-winning satirical masterpiece that strikes the commercial side of Broadway returns to high-definition format coming from a new 4K restoration and is still full of laughs and even a new extra. The Producers: Special Edition (Kino Lorber, unrated, 1.85: 1 aspect ratio, 88 minutes, $ 29.95).
The absurd story stars the theatrical producer and former “King of Broadway” Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) who is suffering from tough times and desperately in need of a successful show. He meets the nervous accountant Leopold Bloom (Gene Wilder) assigned to check his books, but Leo stumbles upon a clever plan.
Specifically, under the right circumstances, a producer could make more money from failure than from success. Raise more money than you need and when the show fails, you keep the extra.
The couple becomes a couple and first searches for the worst play ever written and finds the immortal musical “Springtime for Hitler.”
Max raises the funds by ripping off a wealthy old lady out of her cash, buys the play from former Nazi Franz Liebkind (Kenneth Mars), hires a director with a losing track record, Roger De Bris (Christopher Hewett), and casts an overly hippie Lorenzo. . St. DuBois (Dick Shawn) to play Hitler.
Everything seems set for massive failure, but could success thwart the couple’s payday?
Mostel and Wilder’s manic performances bring tears to the eyes and are complemented by scenes of loud laughter as the Nazi playwright ranting about how much greater Hitler was to Churchill, the frenzied casting for Der Fluhrer, and the thrilling “Springtime for Hitler” musical number – “Don’t be stupid, be a smarty-ass. Come join the Nazi Party. “
The visual presentation is the best ever released for home theater, sometimes a little soft with some film grain. But sharp colors like Max’s red velvet jacket, as well as all of the costumes, really shine through during the song “Springtime for Hitler.” And especially check out the gold pretzel bra on one of the dancers and the exaggerated swastika dance in the style of Busby Berkeley.
The aspect ratio that fills the screen is also appreciated, which bodes well when Max and Leo are practically kissing the camera lens.
Best extras: First, viewers get a new commentary track with film historian Michael Schlesinger.
He first asks why they asked him to do the track with the director still alive, but he quickly forgets it and immediately points out that Mr. Brooks is his personal god.
Schlesinger then enthusiastically dives into the comments, often explaining the top credits of most of the cast and crew, Brooks’ origins and his intellectual side of comedy, how Mr. Books met Wilder, and generally speaking. adding stories from the set.
He sounds like a studio tour guide with the charts at times, but his track has a lot of facts, a lot of nostalgia, and he manages not to sound like a fan gushing about his deity.
Next, viewers get almost all of the extras previously available on DVD releases dating back to 2002.
Best of the bunch is the roughly one hour, five chapter documentary on the film that covers most facets of the production and process, while also offering plenty of commentary from the director and surviving cast and crew (as of 2002).
Viewers will love the nostalgia trip listening to Mr. Brooks talk about how Dustin Hoffman was going to play the Nazi writer, but left the role to star in “The Graduate” or Wilder remembering Mostel’s antics on set and Lee Meredith ( Max’s secretary) recreating one of his go-go dance scenes.
Also worth checking out is Peter Sellers’ gushing short film review (rather a long statement) read by director Paul Mazursky.
The only extra missing and originally found in Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray release in 2013 was a more contemporary 19-minute interview with Brooks. It’s a shame Kino Lorber couldn’t get the famed filmmaker to offer another look at his classic, even if it’s on a socially distanced video call.