The Producers (1967)

88 mins | Comedy | 18 March 1967

Director:

Mel Brooks

Writer:

Mel Brooks

Producer:

Sidney Glazier

Cinematographer:

Joseph Coffey

Editor:

Ralph Rosenblum

Production Designer:

Charles Rosen
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HISTORY

In an 11 Feb 2001 interview with LAT, Brooks stated that the character “Max Bialystock” was based on his former employer, a Broadway producer who swindled money from “little old ladies” to finance stage productions. Brooks wrote the script between 1964 and 1966, but had a hard time selling it, due, in part, to its original title, Springtime for Hitler. However, according to production notes in AMPAS library files, when he pitched the idea to producer Sidney Glazier in May 1966, Glazier instantly liked it and agreed that Brooks should direct.
       Principal photography began 22 May 1967. The bulk of filming took place at the Production Center, also known as The Hy Brown Studios, located on New York City’s West Side. Other New York locales included: Lincoln Center, a townhouse on the East Side, the 60 Centre Street Courthouse, Columbus Circle, Central Park, and the Empire State Building. The Playhouse Theatre on 48th Street, where Brooks staged the film’s musical numbers, was sold during production and scheduled for demolition, making Springtime for Hitler the Playhouse’s final production. Shooting was completed 15 Jul 1967, according to a 17 Jul 1967 HR news item and an 18 Jul 1967 Embassy Pictures Corp. press release.
       The production cost roughly $1.1 million, with $500,000 funded by the distributor, Embassy Pictures Corp., as noted in a 3 Sep 1967 NYT article. According to the 17 Jul 1967 HR, Universal Marion Corp., a diversified industrial corporation, “provided half the financing.”
       A Thanksgiving 1967 theatrical release was planned, according to the 18 Jul 1967 Embassy press release. According to an ... More Less

In an 11 Feb 2001 interview with LAT, Brooks stated that the character “Max Bialystock” was based on his former employer, a Broadway producer who swindled money from “little old ladies” to finance stage productions. Brooks wrote the script between 1964 and 1966, but had a hard time selling it, due, in part, to its original title, Springtime for Hitler. However, according to production notes in AMPAS library files, when he pitched the idea to producer Sidney Glazier in May 1966, Glazier instantly liked it and agreed that Brooks should direct.
       Principal photography began 22 May 1967. The bulk of filming took place at the Production Center, also known as The Hy Brown Studios, located on New York City’s West Side. Other New York locales included: Lincoln Center, a townhouse on the East Side, the 60 Centre Street Courthouse, Columbus Circle, Central Park, and the Empire State Building. The Playhouse Theatre on 48th Street, where Brooks staged the film’s musical numbers, was sold during production and scheduled for demolition, making Springtime for Hitler the Playhouse’s final production. Shooting was completed 15 Jul 1967, according to a 17 Jul 1967 HR news item and an 18 Jul 1967 Embassy Pictures Corp. press release.
       The production cost roughly $1.1 million, with $500,000 funded by the distributor, Embassy Pictures Corp., as noted in a 3 Sep 1967 NYT article. According to the 17 Jul 1967 HR, Universal Marion Corp., a diversified industrial corporation, “provided half the financing.”
       A Thanksgiving 1967 theatrical release was planned, according to the 18 Jul 1967 Embassy press release. According to an 8 Mar 1968 LAT article by Charles Champlin, the film premiered in Philadelphia, PA, although Champlin did not cite a date. After viewing the film at Washington, D.C.’s Playhouse Theatre on 30 Nov 1967, the 6 Dec 1967 Var review stated that The Producers was “caught in a Washington, D.C. theatre” but had yet to be “tradeshown.” A 14 Mar 1968 Film Daily news brief announced that the film would open at New York’s Fine Arts Theatre on 18 Mar 1968. According to an advertisement in the 28 Mar 1968 HR, The Producers set a house record at the Fine Arts’ 459-seat theater, taking in $34,562 in its first week. The advertisement also noted that the film was currently playing in Los Angeles, CA, at the Granada Theatre.
       A 22 Nov 1978 HR article stated that Avco Embassy Pictures Corp. would re-release the film Mar 1978, expecting a higher box-office due to Brooks’s rise in popularity since the original release.
       Brooks won an Academy Award for “Writing (Story and Screenplay--written directly for the screen),“ and a Writers Guild of America (WGA) Award for “Best Original Screenplay.” Gene Wilder was nominated for an Academy Award for “Actor in a Supporting Role.” The Golden Globes nominated Zero Mostel for “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical,” and Mel Brooks for “Best Screenplay – Motion Picture.”
       The Producers marked Mel Brooks’s feature film debut as a writer-director and Gene Wilder’s first starring role, as stated in the 3 Sep 1967 NYT article. Wilder’s only previous film appearance was in Bonnie and Clyde (1967, see entry).
       In a 27 Jul 1981 “Just for Variety” column in DV, Army Archerd reported that Brooks planned to produce a musical version of The Producers. The Broadway musical, with music and lyrics by Brooks, and book by Brooks and Thomas Meehan, opened 19 Apr 2001 at New York’s St. James Theatre to positive reviews, and continued its run at the St. James until 22 Apr 2007. In 2005, Universal released a film version of the musical play, also entitled The Producers (see entry). The 2005 film was directed by Susan Stroman, who also directed the Broadway production, and featured Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick reprising their stage roles as “Max Bialystock” and “Leo Bloom,” respectively.
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Cue
23 Mar 1968.
---
Daily Variety
27 Jul 1981.
---
Film Daily
14 Mar 1968.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jul 1967.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Mar 1968.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Nov 1978
p. 1, 12.
Los Angeles Times
8 Mar 1968
Section C, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
11 Feb 2001
Calendar, p. 8.
New York Times
3 Sep 1967.
---
New Yorker
23 Mar 1968.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Sidney Glazier Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp & cond
Mus supv
SOUND
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
SOURCES
SONGS
"Love Power," music and lyrics by Norman Blagman and Herb Hartig
sung by Dick Shawn
"Springtime for Hitler," music and lyrics by Mel Brooks
+
SONGS
"Love Power," music and lyrics by Norman Blagman and Herb Hartig
sung by Dick Shawn
"Springtime for Hitler," music and lyrics by Mel Brooks
sung by Michael Davis
"Prisoners of Love," music and lyrics by Mel Brooks
sung by Zero Mostel
"The Producers," words and music by John Morris and Mort Goode.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Springtime for Hitler
Release Date:
18 March 1967
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Philadelphia, PA: November 1967
Washington, D.C. opening: late November 1967
New York opening: 18 March 1968
Production Date:
22 May--15 July 1967
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
PathéColor
Duration(in mins):
88
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Max Bialystock, a seedy, disreputable, has-been Broadway producer, ekes out a living by charming love-starved elderly ladies into investing in his disastrous productions. One day, a timorous and neurotic accountant, Leo Bloom, arrives at Max's office to check the books on his latest theatrical fiasco. Max pressures Leo to analyze his ledger books in less than a minute, prompting Leo to panic and rub a blue baby blanket on his face, admitting that he has a minor compulsion surrounding the blanket. When Leo finds a $2,000 difference in the books and naively mentions that a producer could make a lot of money by finding a sure-fire failure, over-financing it, and pocketing the remainder of the investors' money after the show closes, Max becomes excited. He cons the reluctant Leo into becoming his partner in producing the worst play in theatrical history, fantasizing that they will run away with the stolen money to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After rejecting hundreds of manuscripts, they finally find the ideal script in Springtime for Hitler, a musical comedy about Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun romping in Berchtesgaden. The play is written by Franz Liebkind, an unregenerate Nazi who keeps pigeons and staunchly maintains that Hitler was "a swell guy with a song in his heart." After oversubscribing by 25,000 percent, Max and Leo insure disaster by hiring Roger De Bris, a flamboyant, homosexual man generally regarded as the world's worst director, to stage their play, and Lorenzo “LSD” St. Du Bois, a spaced-out hippie, to play “Adolf Hitler.” Max also hires Ulla, a beautiful Swedish woman, to be their receptionist. On opening night, they add a final touch to their scheme ... +


Max Bialystock, a seedy, disreputable, has-been Broadway producer, ekes out a living by charming love-starved elderly ladies into investing in his disastrous productions. One day, a timorous and neurotic accountant, Leo Bloom, arrives at Max's office to check the books on his latest theatrical fiasco. Max pressures Leo to analyze his ledger books in less than a minute, prompting Leo to panic and rub a blue baby blanket on his face, admitting that he has a minor compulsion surrounding the blanket. When Leo finds a $2,000 difference in the books and naively mentions that a producer could make a lot of money by finding a sure-fire failure, over-financing it, and pocketing the remainder of the investors' money after the show closes, Max becomes excited. He cons the reluctant Leo into becoming his partner in producing the worst play in theatrical history, fantasizing that they will run away with the stolen money to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After rejecting hundreds of manuscripts, they finally find the ideal script in Springtime for Hitler, a musical comedy about Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun romping in Berchtesgaden. The play is written by Franz Liebkind, an unregenerate Nazi who keeps pigeons and staunchly maintains that Hitler was "a swell guy with a song in his heart." After oversubscribing by 25,000 percent, Max and Leo insure disaster by hiring Roger De Bris, a flamboyant, homosexual man generally regarded as the world's worst director, to stage their play, and Lorenzo “LSD” St. Du Bois, a spaced-out hippie, to play “Adolf Hitler.” Max also hires Ulla, a beautiful Swedish woman, to be their receptionist. On opening night, they add a final touch to their scheme by wrapping a one-hundred dollar bribe around the ticket of a New York Times drama critic. However, the play and production are so unremittingly awful that the audience interprets it as satire and roars with approval. Stunned to discover they are stuck with a box-office success, Max, Leo, and Liebkind frantically try to close their show, even to the point of blowing up the theater. Apprehended and sent to jail after a trial in which they are found "incredibly guilty," they soon revert to their former tactics by producing a prison show called Prisoners of Love and selling shares, well over one-hundred percent, to their fellow inmates and the warden. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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