Tuesday, 4 May 2010

My Double bills # 11 the Movie that begat the musical that begat the Movie

The Producers (Mel Brooks 1968) & Hairspray (John Waters 1988)

Two movies chock full of odd balls and sleazy characters with an underlying message of racial tolerance. One set in 60’s New York amid Flower power, Broadway and pigeon lofts the other on the segregated streets of Baltimore. What are you talking about? You may say if you are only accustomed to the awful remakes that were spawned by Broadway success.

The originals, particularly The Producers, are funny yet unambiguous in their intent. Max Bialystok is the Devil to Leo Bloom’s naïve. A philandering womaniser, who takes money from old women and hatches a scheme with Bloom to produce a Musical about Hitler, In Baltimore Tracey Turnblatt tries to turn the tables on High School popularity and embrace desegregation, her family are a set of off kilter characters and in the hands of director; The Pope of sleaze John Waters we are presented with a good over evil tale. Mel Brooks began his creative period with the Producers (after the hit and miss 12 Chairs) this was followed by Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, High Anxiety and Silent movie.

The Producers is so good because of it’s criminal and moral undertones. It is also just plain funny. Springtime for Hitler is genuinely Genius and the casting is spot on.

Hairspray is John Walters most mainstream film and was followed by Cry Baby and Serial Mom and gave him popular acceptance. It still has the sleazoid factor though. Not to mentiona great soundtrack

Both movies are radical in the way the humour is used and The Producers is something of a blue print for those that followed. What is interesting is that if you watch either film and then peek at the newer versions the sterility is obvious. The commercialism of the new versions is ingrained throughout. Funny? no Risky? no...that was kind of the point though

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having said that;