If ever a film had a title likely to ensure that it never saw the light of day, this is it. Originally set to be called Springtime For Hitler, it is easy to see how the young Mel Brooks could have had some doubts as to whether it would ever make it onto celluloid. Lucky for comedy lovers, it did and it is as funny today as it was on the day of its release - possibly, even funnier.

Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) is a Broadway producer who romances little old ladies to raise cash for his - generally unsuccessful - ventures. When nervy accountant Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder, making his second appearance on the big screen) discovers huge problems with the books, Max hatches a plan to make them millions, providing the show they stage is a total flop. They choose Springtime For Hitler - "a gay romp with Adolf and Eva" - setting the stage for big dance numbers and general mayhem.

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There is so much to laugh at in this film - from sight gags to clever scripting - that it bears repeated viewings and may well find its way into your collection of post-pub favourites. Coupling the larger-than-life Mostel and mousy Wilder was an inspiration and the script neatly mirrors these extremes throughout, shifting from subtle asides to big band numbers without missing a beat.

There are many funny movies in the world but not so many with such a rich strand of satire running deep beneath the surface... and it could be argued that this broke new ground, paving the way for a generation of comedy directors. As Brooks points out in the featurette on the second disk of the Special Edition DVD, the film did not go down well in some Jewish quarters, because they "didn't get the joke."

Brooks is an anarchic reminder that laughter can be mightier than the sword and to turn one of the most dreaded individuals of the last century into a laughing stock is a feat to be praised. Also, you'll be humming the songs all week.

Reviewed on: 12 Oct 2004
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A larger-than-life Broadway producer and a mousy accountant plan to make millions out of failure.
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Director: Mel Brooks

Writer: Mel Brooks

Starring: Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Kenneth Mars, Dick Shawn, Lee Meredith, Christopher Hewett, Andreas Voutsinas, Estelle Winwood, Renee Taylor, Bill Hickey

Year: 1968

Runtime: 84 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US

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The Producers