Lorenzo St. DuBois : Hey, man, my flower. My flower. What’d you do to my flower, man? You hurt it, like everything else. Everything else. flowers.
Lorenzo St. DuBois : That means we CANNOT attack Germany.
Roger De Bris : No, I mean, what do you do best?
[rips his flowers in half]
Lorenzo St. DuBois : One and one’s two/ Two and two’s four/ I feel so bad ’cause I’m losin’ the war!
Lorenzo St. DuBois : I would like to sing this song, it’s about love, and hate. Psychedelically speaking I am talking about the power.
[performing in the play]
Lorenzo St. DuBois : [speaking] You don’t think ’bout no little flowers! Oh no, all you think about is guns. If everybody in the world today had a flower instead of a gun, there would be no wars. There would be one big smell-in. Just the flowers.
[singing as Hitler in the play]
Продюсеры (1967) Dick Shawn as L.S.D. – Lorenzo St. DuBois
Although Brooks got the directing gig, it was a far cry from stage managing Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows” on TV. It was a scary trial by fire. In fact, Brooks was so nervous that on the first day of shooting, he yelled cut instead of action. “Funny thing,” Brooks recalled. “Joe Levine, after seeing one week of dailies, said, ‘I’ll give you another $50,000 to find an actor who’s better looking [than Gene Wilder].’ He didn’t get it. He said, ‘There’s only one problem with the picture: Nobody’s good looking.’ That was part of the politically incorrect tact.”
And Brooks always had Mostel (the Broadway star of “Fiddler on the Roof”) in mind to play the overbearing Bialystock. The first time he saw him perform at New York’s Village Vanguard, the comedian got on the floor and impersonated a coffee percolator. For Brooks, his co-stars represented the two sides of his own legendary personality.
In honor of its 50th anniversary, “The Producers” opens the ninth TCM Classic Film Festival Thursday night at the Chinese Theater IMAX in Hollywood, with a digital 4k restoration courtesy by Studiocanal. For the 91-year-old Brooks, the cult favorite-turned comedy classic was a miracle that launched his celebrated film career as writer-director.
But Brooks came bizarrely full circle when “The Producers” became a Broadway hit and then a movie musical with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. “When we did the show on Broadway, during one of the last previews at the St. James there was a big guy who said this was an outrage,” Brooks said, recalling that the man told him, “How dare you. I was in World War II.” Brooks replied, “So was I. I didn’t see you there.”
“I found Gene Wilder, who was in a Bertolt Brecht play, ‘Mother Courage and Her Children,’ with Anne Brancroft [in 1963], who I was dating,” said Brooks. (They married a year later.) “He was a funny-looking guy and the three of us met for a cup of coffee after one of the shows. He was frustrated because they were laughing and he didn’t know why. I told him to look at himself in the mirror. He was touching and funny and I found my eloquent, beautiful, [timid] accountant, Leo Bloom.”
Apr 25, 2018 3:46 pm
Another weird turn of events occurred when Dustin Hoffman had to turn down the role of the fanatical Hitler supporter, Liebkind, when he left to audition for “The Graduate,” co-starring Bancroft. “I thought this was all too bizarre,” Brooks said. “Go, you’re a mutt. The minute they see you on film, they’ll say we got the wrong guy. He called me back two days later and said they want me.
“The Producers”: Kenneth Mars, Gene Wilder, Zero Mostel.
It still holds true: If you can make people laugh at Hitler or tyrants in general, “then you’ve won the day,” he added.
With the landmark comedy opening the 2018 TCM Festival, Brooks reminisces about his 50-year-old comedy with Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel.