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The Producers (1968 film)
The Producers is a 1967 American satirical comedy film written and directed by Mel Brooks and starring Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Dick Shawn, and Kenneth Mars. The film was Brooks's directorial debut, and he won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Although the release date was officially 1968, the premier took place in Pittsburgh on 22 November 1967.
Decades later, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry and placed eleventh on the AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs list. It was later remade successfully by Brooks as an acclaimed Broadway stage musical, which itself was adapted for a 2005 feature film starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick.
The once-great Max Bialystock (Mostel) had once been the toast of Broadway, but now he has been reduced to a washed-up, aging, fraudulent, corruptible, and greedy Broadway producer who barely ekes out a hand-to-mouth existence romancing lascivious, wealthy elderly women ("angels" in theatrical terms) in exchange for money for his next play. Accountant Leopold "Leo" Bloom (Wilder) arrives at Max's office to do his books and discovers a $2,000 discrepancy in the accounts of Max's last play. Max persuades Leo to hide the relatively minor fraud, and while shuffling numbers, Leo has a revelation: a producer could make a lot more money with a flop than a hit by overselling shares in the production, because no one will audit the books of a play presumed to have lost money. Max immediately puts this scheme into action. They will oversell shares on a massive scale and produce a play that will close on opening night, thus avoiding payouts and leaving the duo free to flee to Rio de Janeiro with the profits. Leo is afraid such a criminal venture will fail and they will go to prison, but Max eventually convinces him that his drab existence is no better than prison.
- Franz Liebkind: "Not many people know it, but the Führer was a terrific dancer." – Nominated
- Max Bialystock is named after the city of Białystok, Poland. A bialystoker is a roll similar to a bagel. The character was inspired by Max Liebman, the producer/director of Your Show of Shows, on which Brooks was a writer.
- Leo Bloom is named for the protagonist of James Joyce's classic novel Ulysses, Leopold Bloom. Leo meets Max on June 16 (Bloomsday), the date on which Ulysses takes place.
- Bialystock at one point calls Leo "Prince Myshkin," the titular protagonist in Dostoevsky's novel The Idiot.
- In the search for "the worst play ever.", Max reads aloud from one of the rejected manuscripts. It is the opening sentence of Kafka's The Metamorphosis, where Gregor Samsa finds himself transformed into a giant verminous bug, and Bialystock dismisses it as "too good."
- Roger De Bris (pronounced "debris") is named for the Yiddish term for circumcision.
- Carmen Ghia is named after the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, a popular car in production in 1968.
- The "singing Hitlers" at their audition sing a number of pieces. Mentioned or performed are Lilac Time, "A Wand'ring Minstrel I," "Beautiful Dreamer," and "Largo al factotum" ("della ... città" being all that is heard).
- Siegfried from the Siegfried Oath is the main character in the opera The Ring of the Nibelung by Richard Wagner.
- Peter Sellers appeared on Michael Parkinson's BBC1 chat show Parkinson in a Nazi helmet reciting the entire "Hitler was a better painter than Churchill" speech. (Parkinson BBC1 09/11/74 & BBC Audiobooks (February 5, 1996))
- An episode of the TV series Remington Steele, "Springtime for Steele", has two men trying to pull the same scam by promoting a tour of an untalented singer after selling the rights for major profit. Like in the movie, though, the scam is undone when the tour is a sellout. Keeping with a running theme in the series, Steele cites the movie as inspiration for the scheme.
- An episode of the cartoon series Goof Troop, "Pete's Day at the Races", has Pete pulling a scam by overselling stock in a racing horse; unfortunately for Pete, his horse wins.
- The title of the U2 album Achtung Baby comes from a line in the movie.
- Season four of Curb Your Enthusiasm revolves around The Producers. Larry David is hired by Mel Brooks as a surefire way of ruining the play and ending its run. Instead, reflecting the actual plotline of the play, David turns it into a huge success.
- In The Perks of Being a Wallflower, this is Patrick's favorite movie.
George Harrison's 1974 album Dark Horse has a photograph in the gatefold sleeve of Harrison and Peter Sellers walking through the Friar Park estate, a speech balloon saying "Well Leo, what say we promenade through the park?", a quote from the film, a favorite of both Sellers and Harrison.
- Radio talk show host Stephanie Miller frequently refers to the hope that Attorney Lisa Bloom, a frequent guest of her radio show, will add an attorney with the last name of Bialystock as a partner to her law firm, which would then be known as "Bialystock and Bloom."
- In Series 1, Episode 19 of House, M.D., Wilson quotes the infamous line "That's our Hitler!" after a seemingly successful interview between Dr. House and a candidate for a former colleague's replacement.
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