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Baldwin: ‘The Producers’ sure to produce laughs

Greetings, my fellow leading men and ladies of wacky Winchester.

People take life too seriously nowadays. We are led to believe we can be offended by or need to voice our opinion on every statement, topic or person we feel wound better with our 2 cents.

In this declining social state filled with excessive self-love and fulfilling a need of constant attention through the façade of self-importance of social media, we have become weak. We claim to be progressive, forward-thinking individuals but we fail at one of life’s greatest pleasures: the ability to laugh at our ourselves.

Luckily, this upcoming week will give you the opportunity to get a healthy dose of zany reality filled with a ton of much-needed laughs with the screening of the award-winning comedy musical, “The Producers” (1967).

An aging washed-up Broadway producer Max (Zero Mostel) has stooped to conning senior wealthy females in the hopes of using their funds to help launch his next production.

While deep in the throes of the con with one of Zero’s marks on the infamous producer’s casting couch, nervous accountant Leo, portrayed by Gene Wilder, arrives to audit Zero’s books.

Leo discovers a significant discrepancy with the seedy producer’s account and the two come to the realization the duo could make a lot more money with a flop production because of overselling shares and the books will be safe from audits because of it losing money.

With the two cons deep in their scheme, the goal is for the production to be so bad it closes after one performance and they exit stage left with the cash. They agree the only production that is sure to be an instant flop, and in their opinion, is the most offensive is, ”Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden.”

“The Producers” was written and directed by comedy legend Mel Brooks.

Brooks was and is still remembered as a one-of-a-kind artist who pushed the envelope as his hilarious comedic visions come to life through a boisterous barrage of double entendres, innuendos, racial stereotypes, spoof and overall silliness.

Brooks was gifted at creating characters in his films who were oddballs and outsiders but were humans with a purpose.

The Jewish Brooks is indeed a character just like the ones in his films and puts his aim right at Hitler and Nazi Germany through ridicule and comedic bashing, which reduces the regime’s dominant existence in post-World War II memory.

Brooks uses comedy and laughter as weapons in a very serious and sometimes tragic world and invites the audience in on the joke through a crazy cathartic session of dealing with reality.

If you are new to Mel Brooks, then be sure to check out some of his other popular comedies, “Blazing Saddles” (1974), “Young Frankenstein” (1974), and “Spaceballs” (1987).

“The Producers” has become so popular over the years it has been adapted into a hugely successful long-running Broadway musical, and a 2005 remake starring Nathan “The Birdcage” Lane and Matthew “Ferris Bueller” Broderick as the leads.

Fathom Events will be screening “The Producers” in honor of its 50th anniversary Sunday, June 3, and Wednesday, June 6, in Lexington at the Fayette Mall and Hamburg Pavilion 16 or in Richmond at the Shops of Richmond Hills. Showtime for both dates are 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

So, lighten up, laugh, and stop taking yourself so seriously. There is comedy in everything. You just must be present in the moment to see how funny we or most situations can be if one just took the time to relax. After all, it’s only life and we all exit the stage the same way at the end of the play.

Have a film-tastic day! Aaaaaand scene.

Rick Baldwin is a writer, filmmaker and film/music historian. He is president of the Winchester-Clark County Film Society (facebook.com/WCCfilmsociety). Find more from Rick on Facebook at facebook.com/ricksrhetoric/ and online at theintestinalfortitude.com/category/reviews-editorials/ricks-rhetoric. He is on Twitter @rickbaldwin79 and can be reached by email at rickbaldwiniii@hotmail.com.