In 1998, director Gus Van Sant released a near shot-for-shot remake of Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 classic Psycho. This proved something of a challenge for film critics. How do you review a film so true to the original? On the one hand, it offers nothing new. On the other, it's skillfully made and there's no denying the strength of the source material.
Now here's an even trickier challenge: a film adaptation of a musical based on a film about the worst musical of all time: The Producers.
Mel Brooks wrote and directed the original 1968 movie about struggling Broadway producer Max Bialystock (originally played by Zero Mostel to comic perfection), who schemes with accountant Leo Bloom (an equally perfect Gene Wilder) to stage a musical so terrible that it's sure to flop opening night. That failure would lead to their success by allowing them to pocket the money of their investors: a long line of elderly women romanced by Bialystock. Comic hi-jinks ensue as the two producers set out to find the worst script they can find (Springtime for Hitler, written by Nazi Franz Liebkind as a love letter to the Fuhrer) and hire the worst director in town to oversee it (flamboyant cross-dresser Roger De Bris).
The film marked Brooks' directorial debut and is still considered a comedic classic—and one of his best films—to this day. Thirty years later, he teamed with composer Thomas Meehan to craft a Broadway musical based on his film. It ended up a major success in 2001, earning a total of twelve Tony awards—more than any musical before it. Directed by choreographer Susan Stroman, the show sold out regularly thanks to the inspired casting of its two leads, Nathan Lane as Bialystock and Matthew Broderick as Bloom.
Based on its successful ...1
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