Starring: Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Estelle Winwood
Director: Mel Brooks
Theatre producer Max Bialystock (Mostel) is a failure who makes his money by carrying on relationships with rich old women. It’s a hard life, and when his accountant Leo Bloom (Wilder) mentions that he could make a lot of money by deliberately making a crappy play that closes on the first night, he is inspired. He drags Bloom into his plans, and soon they have a sure fire bust on their hands with musical Springtime For Hitler, but their plans backfire when people think it’s meant to be a comic satire and decide they love it.
This Mel Brooks film has been a classic for years, and was actually his first foray into feature films. It won an Oscar for it’s screen play and cemented Mel Brooks as a comedic genius. It’s such an outlandish concept for a film, and the play within the play is truly awful, with it’s dancing Hitlers and musical numbers.
A large part of the success of this film is Zero Mostel’s performance. He was blacklisted in Hollywood and in this film he is allowed to shine once again. He’s so slimy and funny, sleazing on old ladies with his greasy charm and dazzling Bloom into getting involved in his scheme. He’s really funny.
And of course, Gene Wilder is always a delight, here in full neurotic mode as an accountant who still carries around his security blanket.
There are Mel Brooks movies that show a more developed humour and surer hand that I prefer more, but this film is really madcap and cynical in that way that would become Brooks signiture charm. It’s a must-see for fans of Brooks and Wilder fans.
See It If: you’ve ever wondered where money goes in the theatre… it’s a really funny, cynical film and Mel Brooks first. Very funny.