The Producers 2005

The Producers (Susan Stroman, 2005)

After putting together another Broadway flop, down-on-his-luck producer Max Bialystock teams up with timid accountant Leo[pold] Bloom in a get-rich-quick scheme to put on the world's worst show.

Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman, Will Ferrell, Gary Beach, Roger Bart, Michael McKean

This was first produced as a film written and directed by Mel Brooks and first screened in 1967. (It could have been a novel or a play.) Brooks and Thoman Meehan adapted it as a musical, directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, which premiered in London in 2001. Brooks and Meehan next adapted the musical as a new film, released in 2005.

Because they can, critics have compared the later film unfavourably with both the earlier film and the show based on it. I'd never had the opportunity to see the first film let alone the musical when I finally got around to seeing Stroman's - I was reluctant because I had an idea the earlier film was 'the one', and anyway it was just logical to see the original first. So I was free to be as amused and delighted as it turned out I was.

I watched it with the benefit of the director's commentary (I could still hear enough of the singing and the dialogue - and anyway she repeated a number of key lines) so I was made aware of the brilliance of all the work, particularly that of Nathan Dean (Bialystock) and Gary Beach (Roger De Bris). I was surprised to find that Matthew Broderick (the Bueller who had the day off) can sing and dance well, as can Uma Thurman - tho I am less enthusiastic about her work (and Will Ferrell's) than Stroman is. I am now looking forward to seeing the original. ... Update: I've now seen it, and wrote the following paragraph on my page for that film.

I watched the older film after seeing this one - in fact the next night. It's a no-brainer that the later film is a much richer experience. The original contains a musical - or a bit of one - but the newer film is a musical: significant elements in the plot are told in song and dance. The scripts are very similar: I was easily able to anticipate the next line throughout, and it's often word for word. So all that's left to make a comparison is the two Bialystocks and the two Blooms, and so on. And there's nothing in it. Mostel doesn't do much that Lane can't. He has a slightly more expressive face, and is possibly framed better for some lines. Wilder is charming, but he doesn't get a chance to dance and sing, as Broderick does so effectively. So how anyone can think the film with only the script is 'better' than the film with the same script but with millions of dollars worth of Broadway production added is beyond me.

Garry Gillard | New: 23 March, 2017 | Now: 24 March, 2017