Cinema: The Producers

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The Producers has many things going for it—notably a wild, ad-lib energy that explodes in a series of sight gags and punch lines. Mostel, a Broadway favorite but long a film disappointment, exuberantly caricatures Merrick not as David but as Goliath, and Wilder beautifully underplays as his weak-kneed henchman. Unfortunately, the film is burdened with the kind of plot that demands resolution, and here Brooks the writer has failed Brooks the director. Springtime is supposed to be like Valley of the Dolls—so excessively bad that it's hilarious. Instead it is just excessive. Producers ends in a whimper of sentimentality out of keeping with the low jinks that went before.

The movie is disjointed and inconsistent—as full of flaws, say, as W. C. Fields's last major feature, Never Give a Sucker an Even Break, or the Marx Brothers' first film, The Coconuts. Faults and all, The Producers at its best belongs in their league—quite an achievement for the man who invented the square wheel.

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