With Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Kenneth Mars, Dick Shawn, Lee Meredith, Christopher Hewitt
Directed by Mel Brooks
Reviewed by JL

Contemplating the sequel: Mussolini - The Musical!      Before Lane and Broderick, there were Mostel and Wilder.  Mel Brooks's first directorial effort remains one of his strongest, ranking with YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN as one of his two best comedies.  (BLAZING SADDLES, his most successful film, has not aged as well.)  Brooks still had a long way to go in terms of film technique -- some scenes are amateurishly staged and framed, while the overall pace is inconsistent -- but those are minor problems compared to the film's hilarious premise, screenplay, and brilliant comic cast.  Third-rate Broadway impresario Zero Mostel and accountant Gene Wilder are the unlikely pair of producers who sell 25,000 percent interest in a play they intend to make the worst, most offensive stage production in history.  The play they choose -- Springtime for Hitler: a Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva in Berchestgarten -- seems like the perfect choice, but their determination to make every element of the production as tasteless or inept as possible results in a madcap, crowd-pleasing farce.  Mostel's performance is on the scale of Mt. Everest: undisciplined, but brilliantly so, if such a thing is possible.  Wilder, still a relative newcomer to the screen, is as endearingly effective as he would be throughout his first decade in films (after which, he tended to give the same frenzied performance again and again).  The supporting cast is equally good, especially Kenneth Mars as the lumpkin Nazi playwright, and Dick Shawn as the Rat Pack generation's idea of a flower child.  4 - JL

Comedy     The Stuff You Gotta Watch


"Will the dancing Hitlers wait in the wings?  We are seeing only singing Hitlers."


The Producers (2005) Starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in the film version of the Broadway musical version of the original film.

Stuff You Gotta Watch
Copyright © 2010 John V. Brennan, John Larrabee