Starring: Gene Wilder, Zero Mostel, Dick Shawn, Kenneth Mars, Estelle Winwood, Christopher Hewett, Andréas Voutsinas, Lee Meredith, Renée Taylor
Runtime: 1h 28min
Max Bialystock (Mostel), The King of Broadway, has fallen on hard times. He is now dependent on doling out sexual favours to rich, elderly widows to finance his plays, most of which don’t do particularly well.
Leo Bloom (Wilder) is an insecure, young accountant tasked with auditing his accounts. However, he is pulled into the fraudulent world of Bialystock and comes up with a way to make more money from a theatrical flop than a hit.
Teaming up, the two men go searching for the most offensive play they can find – something that could never ever be a hit. And they score big with Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden – a love letter to Hitler written by an actual Nazi, Franz Liebkind (Mars).
While the play itself should ensure their (un)success, they seal the deal by engaging a horrible director and casting an off-beat hippie who just happened to wander into the audition to play the lead. Everything is coming up Bialystock!
We love EVERYTHING about this movie, and we go around humming “Springtime for Hitler” a LOT more than any human being should. From the cabinet filled with framed pictures of Bialystock’s old, rich women to “We’re Prisoners of Love,” The Producers is a hilarious romp fueled by fantastic performances and Mel Brooks’ particular sense of humour. The plot, the music, the characters, the dialogue – it all works, and we can watch it again and again. And so should you.
Bonnie Parker (Dunaway) is a bored small town waitress looking for trouble. Trouble arrives in the form of recently released convict Clyde Barrow (Beatty). The two fall instantly in love when he tries to steal her mother’s car and then performs a robbery just to prove to Bonnie that he really is a convict.
Bonnie and Clyde take off to travel around the US robbing and looting. You know, normal first-year-of-a-relationship-stuff. Soon, the two hook up with gas station attendant C.W. Moss (Pollard), kill their first man, and go see a musical. Two of those things might be more important to the plot than the other. Once Clyde’s brother Buck (Hackman) and his wife Blanche (Parsons) join the group as well, the Barrow gang is born.
The gang continue the crime spree started by the protagonists, and as they grow in notoriety and their crimes grow in brutality, the web starts closing in around them. It’s not long before law enforcement starts to catch up…
Bonnie and Clyde doesn’t really follow a traditional structure – it starts right in on the action and then has a fairly flat structure throughout, until the final shoot out and credits. Which is not a criticism – it works. There’s just not a lot of ups and downs in action and tension. In a lot of ways, it reminded us of some of the French movies we’ve watched from the ’60s, which is probably intentional from the director. The flat structure also gives it a bit of a documentary feel, although there’s very little else which gives that impression.
We loved the old timey car chases, the costumes, the clip from Gold Diggers of 1933, and the match made in hell of Bonnie and Clyde. As always with movies based on real events, we fall for the temptation of doing some fact checking, and so here is some trivia, based on about 5 minutes of googling. Inaccuracies may occur. 1. There’s little evidence to substantiate the claim that Clyde Barrow was impotent or otherwise unable to perform sexually. There is however some evidence that he was brutally raped in prison, and also that he was bisexual. 2. The couple killed their first man in 1932, but then went right to the cinema to see a movie musical released in 1933. We can only conclude that the pair owned a time machine .
Despite the historical inaccuracies and the fact that Bonnie and Clyde never once used their time machine to do anything except watch movies, we really enjoyed this. It is of course an inaccurate version of the very real criminals, but they’re perhaps not overly romanticized – they’re both flawed people in difficult situations, neither heroic nor vilified. All in all, very good. And we can’t wait for the inevitable sequel where they team up with Marty McFly.