01. The Producers with Simon Renshaw Transcript
[90 Mins or Less Film Fest Music]
SAM: Hello, my name is Sam Clements and welcome to episode one of the 90 Minutes or Less Film Fest. This is a unique film festival where we'll play pretty much any film, but it must be no longer than 90 minutes. It is also entirely curated by guests, and today I am joined by my very first guest Simon Renshaw.
SAM: You are the first 90 Minutes or Less Film Fest guest.
SIMON: Thank you very much. It's very pleasing that those words rhyme.
SAM: We should make a T-shirt!
SIMON: I’d love a T-Shirt!
SAM: Regular listeners to my voice on the Internet will be familiar with Simon's voice because we're often voices together on the Picturehouse podcast. You can find that on a, on a separate pod feed, there's lots of those.
SIMON: Yeah, eight years of them.
SAM: Eight years of those to go back. Go back to the first episode listeners, see what we were talking about back then.
SIMON: Oh, God, don't please, please don't do that.
SAM: You also work at Casarotto Ramsay, a literary agency?
SIMON: That's right. We represent some of the best talent in the world.
SAM: You're in the thick of it.
SIMON: It's a thrill and the joy.
SAM: Right, so this is a podcast where we're celebrating films that are 90 minutes or less. I'm intrigued because I actually don't know this, what is your favourite film?
SIMON: My favourite film? Well, okay, so my two favourite films are Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Beetlejuice. And they're both silly films from the late 80s. Planes Trains is 93 minutes, and Beetlejuice is 92, both disqualified unfortunately, but I don't know if I would have chosen them either. I've had a long old think about potential choices, but no Beetlejuice is the one that, it's the film that made me love films really. And the thing about it that really made me love films was Elfman's score, which I just love so so so much. And Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a film that I genuinely think I've seen triple figures now.
SIMON: Disgusting to watch a film that many times, absolutely dreadful, but what a piece of work. I just love it so much. It's so silly. I like silly comedy, as we might learn throughout the rest of this podcast.
SAM: I'm kind of pleased that your favourite films aren't eligible for this film festival...
SIMON: Yes, me too
SAM: ...because it's made you think
SIMON: It really has
SAM: When you when you're looking through cinema listings, how do you feel when you see 'ooo that film is 85 minutes, that film is 91 minutes', like how do you feel about these these films at shorter end of the feature spectrum?
SIMON: There is very little that gives me greater pleasure in this life, than knowing that a film is less than 90 minutes long. I'm not just saying that to get into your good books, I don't want just to be a nice first guest. And everyone loves a short film because it's a complete thing. But it just happens to be not 165 minutes long, which means that you can watch two of them. You could have two great stories for the price of one great story that's just longer. So everyone wins if it's shorter, which is why I think this is the best idea for a film festival in the whole universe.
SAM: What a great use of time, everybody's very busy these days. And watching a film after work sometimes say if you finish the you know, like a regular sort of nine to five sort of day you can get one film in if you're lucky,
SAM: Unless they're 90 minutes or less!
SIMON: Right? People who commute can watch a film on the way to work. If you're anything like me, you like to hoover up as much culture as possible. I like to cram it all in and can only cram it all in if they're little short ones.
SAM: So before coming on to the podcast, we gave you some homework, which was to choose the film that you want to submit into the 90 Minutes or Less Film Fest.
SAM: How did you approach this question? And what did you choose?
SIMON: I firstly, thought in my brain about films that I love. I thought about Planes, Trains and Automobiles, and then I googled it. And then I thought about Beetlejuice and then I googled it and was very upset. And then I had a really big think. And then obviously, I mean, I'm sure that all of your guests will do the same thing. You google the search term 'films under 90 minutes' and look through the masses and masses of lists. And I was genuinely surprised that there's so much great choice and so much diverse choice as well, which made this choice particularly difficult. I went through loads of listings though, absolutely loads. I think it would have been very easy to choose a Toy Story, a Squid and the Whale, a Rope, a Dumbo. Dumbo, is like 64 minutes.
SAM: I mean even I think that's too short!
SIMON: It doesn't have a third act! That's why you need the last half hour. Come on guys. It's alright, Tim Burton will sort that out probably in his new one. I was thinking about choosing Tomboy and then I didn't choose Tomboy although I love that film and I hope someone chooses it in the future. I think I wanted to choose a crowd-pleaser. And I think and hope that this film is a crowd-pleaser. Oh, do you want me to tell you what the film is?
SAM: I mean, I think if people have downloaded the pod they might know but let's do it for the consistency of the show.
SIMON: It's The Producers!
[90 Mins or Less Film Fest Opening Jingle]
SAM: And this is Mel Brooks's is classic 1968 original The Producers not the 2005 musical one with Nathan Lane in.
SIMON: Exactly. The original is 50 years old.
SAM: Happy 50th!
SIMON: Happy 50th! It celebrated its 50th anniversary and I thought that was a nice way to celebrate it. Also, I think it was re-released, right?
SAM: It was it's just had a big restoration and re-release and it looks brand new now.
SIMON: Yeah, good as well it should. And it still looks pretty good, it was shot on 35 so it looks lovely. I chose this film because I think it’s a big, silly, crowd pleasing film. I love farce a lot, and I love silly comedy. And I think it is a very successful one for a number of different reasons. And also, it's 88 minutes long...
SAM: A joy!
SIMON: ...which fits the brief! Thank God. It's a film that is close to my heart that I would relish the chance to celebrate with other people.
SAM: The Producers is Mel Brooks's feature debut.
SIMON: Yeah, it's his first film.
SAM: Celebrated figure, Mel Brooks, he'd already had a career before this.
SAM: He was on television, he did stand up. Before that, he was in the army. He served in World War Two. And by 1968 he was a bit of an old hat at showbiz. And and I think he always wanted to write something, and I think The Producers started off life as a book, as a play, a film...
SIMON: And it does feel like it's all sort of weird Frankenstein of stuff. I think that what's interesting about well, I think it very much feels like a debut. It's scrappy. But I think it has a core key central conceit that works very well. And one that is, that even people who haven't seen the film know.
SAM: So The Producers follows Max Bialystock played by Zero Mostel, who I did not know really before this film and I don't know outside of this film and he co-stars with Gene Wilder who I do know and I think listeners will know outside this film. Max Bialystock is a washed up Broadway producer. He was the king of Broadway at one point, and we now see him in quite a sad situation in a little sad office, where he has to romance old ladies in order to get checks to fund his upcoming productions. At the beginning of the film, we also meet our other protagonist Leo Bloom played by Gene Wilder, an accountant who's come into do his books while Max Bialystock is romancing one of his potential funders. And it's uh, hilarity ensues. And then after that romantic encounter whilst doing Max's books, Leo makes a throwaway comment that says, you know, a producer could make more money with a flop than and a hit. And then the whole film is exploring this idea and they go on this journey to find the worst script, the worst director and to get a lot of funding and close to show in one night so they can make off with the funds.
SIMON: Yeah, that's exactly what it is. And I think it is a smart idea. And it's one that I think came from Mel Brooks's real life? I think he worked with some producers in his younger days, who would make flop after flop and make lots of money.
SAM: Mel Brooks in a Guardian interview in 2008 talks about this story, and and he says he worked for a producer who wore a chicken fat stained hornburg, and a black alpaca coat. And that is the costume pretty much that Zero Mostel wears in the film, and uh “he pounced on little old ladies and would make love to him. They gave him money for his plays, and they were so grateful for his attention. Later on, there are a couple of guys who were doing flop after flop after flop and living like kings, and the press agent told Mel Brooks, God forbid they should ever get a hit because they'll never pay off the backers”.
SIMON: There you go! It was all real.
SAM: And that was the idea, which is fascinating.
SIMON: Yeah yeah yeah yeah. And a genuinely funny conceit. That first scene of them meeting for the first time really feels like a play, it's 22 minutes that first scene. It's so long, a single location on opening scene, which is just the two characters meeting together and for the first time coming up with the idea. But then after that, we're just running around all over the place. It's I think it's a scrappy, bit of a mess. It doesn't feel like it has much aesthetic consistency. Although tonally, I think he fully gets his idea and realizes it. It's got really good bones there. And then obviously, this film became a Broadway show in the early 2000s then toured and toured and toured and toured. And then they made the 2005 film of the musical of the film, which is an interesting piece of work as well. Yeah, it's had a funny old life, I think. But it's still something that makes me laugh a lot to this day. I really love it.
SAM: I hadn't seen this film before this year. And it was one those like films that was on my list of, really embarrassing haven't seen that really famous comedy...
SIMON: Sure, it's a cult classic.
SAM: ...that, you know, has a life on Broadway and has been is significant enough to be remade and all of this stuff. And it's Mel Brooks, and he's a big deal, right? So it was re-released earlier this year. And I went along to the cinema to watch it.
SAM: And then you chose this film as well so I watched it again. So I've seen this film twice in about four weeks.
SIMON: That's too much.
SAM: It's good to get under the skin of it really though, considering it's Mel Brooks’s first film as director and writer. I think he's got, there's some some really good ideas in there. But it doesn't feel polished as you say. But I think it the highs are high enough for the audience to sort of stay on side and to to appreciate the comedy but also to sort of you know, you can just ignore some of the stuff that doesn't really make sense.
SIMON: Absolutely. It's certainly hit and miss. I think that its key winning facet is the two performances from the leads. I think that's undoubtedly the thing that works the best in the film for me. So Zero Mostel was like a comedian, and a theater actor for years. He only died a few years after The Producers was made, I think maybe like four or five years after, after it was made. Yeah, much celebrated New York Jewish comic who did a few bits of bits of pieces of screen work. This is Gene Wilder's breakout film. This is his film that made him a name and Wilder was nominated for the Oscar for Best Supporting, and Brooks was nominated for and won...
SAM: And won.
SIMON: ...Best Original Screenplay. Which is unbelievable!
SAM: The 1969 Academy Awards the year after this was released. He beats Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke who wrote 2001 A Space Odyssey.
SIMON: I love it! Do you know what those generally one of the one of the other reasons that I chose this film is that I just love the idea that The Producers and 2001 were released in the same year. I think is so silly. I love it. I mean, I think they were released at different ends of the calendar year but I love the idea of potentially being able to do a double bill in 1968 of those two films. That really makes me laugh, and also running time wise is the opposite.
SAM: That would not be allowed in this film festival. I think it's also fun both of them have this legacy like we both from 50 years ago. We don't know many films today. But both of those films have recently had cinema re-releases a couple of weeks apart from each other in the UK, and people still talk about both of them quite reverentially. And they're very much part of pop culture.
SIMON: And I think, um, The Producers is one of those not loved in it's time, it was not well reviewed. It was not a box office success at all. I think it's very much thanks to the leverage of the Brooks dynasty that it's become the cult classic that it is because at the time, people were not having it. No one was having it.
SAM: Would this film be as feted today if it was Mel Brooks's is only film? Because he he made a huge body of work after this, but I don't know if this film is the best example of Mel.
SIMON: No, I know I think it'd be, I think it'd be forgotten because no one remembered it at the time and if I honestly think it's just looking looking back that it's become part of the you know, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, etc. I like Mel Brooks a lot. I think he is a duly venerated satirist. And I think he's a very talented man who's had a lot of success over the years. But obviously littered throughout that career there's, you know, Spaceballs and Dracula Dead and Loving It, and lots of mad bits and pieces that don't quite work. Yeah, a scrappy debut, but one that I think crucially, those jokes are fantastic.
Surrounding that, you have two proper three dimensional characters that I think really, really work. I just love everything about the two of them. I love their chemistry. I love the setup that one is fraught manic prone-to-panic-attacks caterpillar, who has yet become butterfly and the other who is an old, broken, lush, who genuinely frightens and terrifies the other. I think that dynamic is so funny. I was thinking about the film, I was reminded of what it was that introduced me to film in the first place. When I was like nine or 10, there was one of those list programs on Channel Four, called umm, the top 100 greatest films of all time. And the clip that they show from The Producers is Leo's panic attack in that first opening scene, and he can only be sated and calmed down by the blue blanket that he holds that he had when he was a baby, and explains all of this to Max. And Max is barely sympathetic, but very fascinated by what the hell this mad mania is that's come from this poor little guy. And I remember seeing Gene Wilder go into this deranged panic attack. He's fully feeling it is like you can see like veins popping in his head and his neck. And his his face has turned puce. And he's genuinely sweating. And you can really feel the mania just because he's frightened by the man he has to do the accounts for and i'd totally forgotten about that until I was thinking about the film recently. And what it was that introduced me to me to it and why I love it so much. And I think that opening very long scene lays a lot of great foundations for the rest of the film, it's just character work. It's like 20 minutes, here are your characters, and then we're going to see them interact with all sorts of other weirdos for the rest of the film.
[15.39] FILM CLIP from The Producers
Leo Bloom: May I speak to you for a minute?
Max Bialystock: GO! You have 58 seconds.
Leo: Well, in glancing at your books I noticed that an account was marked
Max: You have 48 seconds left, hurry hurry.
Leo: Oh! Um, I glanced at your books I noticed
Max: 28 seconds! Running out of time! Tick tock tick tock
Leo: Mr Bialystock I cannot function under these conditions!
SAM: It’s funny how in terms of the economy of time in this film, because they do spend 21 minutes or 22 minutes in this one location...
SAM: ...of an 88 minute long film…
SIMON: It’s a play
SAM: ...but it's that's the foundations, and he needs to do that. Because then you can have these very choppy scenes where they cut to various people's apartments or theaters or whatnot. But you know, you know, they're doing that. And you they, they sort of banked that time earlier the setup. So you can have a very quick conversation here there or whatever. And it's and it's fine, because it's just playing off of what you remember from that first scene.
SAM: I do think the casting is genius, both in terms of their physical appearance and their styles of acting. And comedy because I mean, Gene Wilder is, is a new actor at this point.
SAM: And I think it’s really great that he’s working with Zero Mostel who is way more experienced and the characters are both supposed to be, he’s a novice he’s never produced a play before, he’s been suckered in by this charismatic guy he looks up to and is a bit afraid of and and he get sort of roped into this. It’s also playing on that old, like, comedy trope of, you think back to Laurel and Hardy, they have that dynamic. And that dynamic is used sort of throughout comedy of having the unwilling but has to go along with it sidekick. And it’s a great trope, and that trope is one of the legacies of this film, you know, people will say, play it like Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder in The Producers if they want to get that dynamic together. I think watching the film now I was surprised how screechy the beginning was.
SIMON: I fully agree. It's actually it's not just that opening scene, although there is so much shouting! There's so much shouting in the whole film. They are yelling at each other the whole time. And I love that high energy. I think that's another thing that I find very attractive in the film. There's a lot of great humour that comes out of that and just some fantastic deliveries. I also I'm just fully obsessed with Max Bialystock’s appearance, the appearance of that character. The work that they've done to make him look like that. The costume choices are so funny. He wears these like mad, crushed velvet suits and the cravates. That opening scene, he's wearing the red velvet smoking jacket with the big B for Bialystock monogrammed on the breast. And his like, mad sweep comb over is so funny. And it's like just drenched in sweat and crazed. And there's like a jut of hair that comes out of the back that looks like it is threatening to become a mullet. He's just looks so ridiculous.
And I think what Mostel does with that is that, that character creation stuff he then uses everything that they've built up from the foundations of his performance and from the script. And then what he puts into it are these mad line deliveries. There are moments in that film where it feels like there are a number of asides, he could just be looking directly at the camera for that stuff. And it's so curious to see stuff like that he has these wild eyes, and the most amazing speaking voice. I just think he's a marvel. I wish we'd seen him in so many more films, and would love to have more of him to look at, and you can YouTube stuff and it's nice to see him in other things. But that performance I think is just so intrinsically funny.
SAM: He's very good in an episode of The Muppet Show, which I have watched for research. There's a sketch of him and Sam the Eagle
SIMON: Yes! My favourite Muppet!
SAM: Which is very, very good. Would recommend seeking that out. So the play that they find is called 'Springtime for Hitler' .
SIMON: Which was the original title of the, of The Producers. It was what they were going to call it.
SAM: And as a result of this, the film was released in Sweden as 'Springtime for Hitler'
SIMON: No way!
SAM: Not The Producers. And subsequently, every one of Mel Brooks's other films has been called springtime for something in Sweden. So Blazing Saddles is Springtime for Sheriff, Young Frankenstein is Springtime for Frankenstein, Spaceballs is Springtime for Space, etc, etc. etc. Mel Brooks released about 12 films as director, they all are in Sweden springtime for something which is a really key boxset to own. I can see why it wasn't called 'Springtime for Hitler' in 1968 in the USA, so close to the end of World War Two and Brooks did have problems getting financing for this film.
SIMON: Yeah, it was banned in Germany, right? Or at least it wasn't released in Germany
SAM: At the time in 1968, doing a, having a play in a film called 'Springtime for Hitler' would be massively controversial and that's probably why some critics didn't like it, maybe it was just too out there.
SIMON: He has spoken so much over the years, about his relationship with Adolf Hitler. And I think what I really enjoy and embrace about that stuff, is that he sees his comedy as an act of vengeance, as a prolific Jewish voice creating something that is built for us to laugh in the face of Adolf Hitler. I think that stuff works really well. And I like that I like that vengeance idea.
SAM: That is demonstrated in the Nazi sympathizer character who's written this screenplay, who when we meet him...
SIMON: I mean, is he a Nazi sympathizer or is he just a Nazi. Like, he's just a Nazi.
SAM: It's kind of interesting meeting him because he's the the sort of third major character we meet after a really weird exchange with a woman sticking her head out of a window who is the landlady of this property. And that was in terms of like thinking of how the time is used this film, there's like two minutes on this scene where the characters stand outside of block of apartments, like shouting at this woman who's asking, who they want to see, like, you don't need this for story but it's nice that it's there.
SIMON: I think that's the Mel Brooks way. I think, I think that is throughout all of his films. Number one, on our priority list is jokes, and number two is like narrative cohesion, maybe even lower down the list. I think he's just so preoccupied with things that are funny and that will make people laugh that he sort of less interested in the putting together of it all. But it just about works like he'll scrape through he'll get there. And yeah, great point. With the landlady, the concierge woman you don’t need that scene, it's completely pointless, they could just turn up and ring the doorbell and go up and see the writer, but then you'd lose two minutes of a woman saying 'concierge'.
FILM CLIP from The Producers
The Concierge: Who do you want? No-one gets in the building unless I know who they want. I’m the concierge. My husband used to be the concierge but he’s dead. Now I’m the concierge.
SIMON: It's Mel Brooks, these are broad brushstrokes. This is parody and farce and high silliness. So I think, with the scenes with the writer and the director, and, and all the other interactions that they have with various people throughout the rest of film, the joy that I get is their interactions with those people as opposed to the humour there is emanating from that character. I don't find a lot of the other characters particularly amusing, although there are some good jokes here and there. I think the guy that plays Hitler is fantastic, but it's their, their interactions with those other characters I think, really keeps that film afloat. After that first, incredible and foundation laying scene.
SAM: It's almost like these are bullet points in the script, they go to see the writer, they go to find the director, they go and do this, they go and do that. Their reaction to how they are sort of uncomfortable with these characters who are even weirder than them is the point of humour.
SIMON: Like you can see Mel Brooks jotting that down on a napkin can't you? Like it's a box ticking exercise, but one but I think when humour is the lead and the jokes work, then the film works. And thank god for Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder because I think they're so great. Why was Zero Mostel not nominated as well as Gene Wilder?
SAM: It is mad and it's a great shame that I think Mel Brooks and Zero Mostel had a not very great time working together on the film, and that's probably why he's not in any of Mel Brooks's other films whereas Gene Wilder is pretty much in all of them.
SIMON: You're right, I think was a tricky relationship. I think he had to convince him to be in the film. I don't think he was particularly enamored and thank god he did! I love that performance.
SAM: He's now remembered for this where I think at the time he didn't want to didn't want to do this, but I think the story is Mel Brooks sent the screenplay to Zero Mostel's wife who really loved it and convinced him to do it.
SIMON: Okay, yeah, makes sense.
SAM: 'Cause Mel Brooks at this point is a, you know he's been on TV, is a comedian he's not a director. And Zero Mostel's worked with so many big directors before this.
SIMON: Even if you watched, after watching that film, you’re like this guy's not a director, he's a comedian who's put a camera in front of some stuff.
SAM: I do think that middle section of film flags for me until we get to the character LSD who plays as you mentioned Hitler in the in the 'Springtime for Hitler' show. And I think I guess for me, this is like a really, it's a sandwich made with really, really delicious bread in terms of the 20 minute opening scene and the whole of the whole musical number and putting that show on. But the middle bit for me is maybe not the best filling.
SIMON: I fully see that. It has some kinks that definitely could and should have been ironed out. When we get to LSD, I can't remember what the characters full name is, but he's shortens it to LSD. He's played by Dick Shawn, fantastic name. He is just so funny. To play Hitler as like a hippie beatnik is just a golden choice from Mel Brooks there I think. He's physically so funny. He's playing it like a lounge lizard hunched over and his arms and his hands and moving like a weird snake the whole time. His voice is so funny. And his singing voice is not actually that bad. I love that stuff, he's ridiculous. The whole thing is ridiculous!
FILM CLIP from The Producers
LSD as Hitler: Hey man, I liebe ya, I liebe ya baby, I liebe ya! Now liebe me alone.
SAM: And there's all of these guys who want to be Hitler and they're not right, and then a guy turns in for the wrong audition and Max Bialystock thinks this is his masterstroke. Okay, I finally found the guy who isn't even supposed to be auditioning for this part. He's definitely the worst part, my play will close on opening night. And that's his comeuppance. Because LSD is such an unpredictable character. He, he's genuinely funny, both in the film in the reality of the film, and for us the audience and when we finally see the show put on that's what backfires.
SIMON: I was just thinking about that Hitler audition montage is just so funny. Getting the, just the sight of seeing 50 guys with toothbrush mustaches all shouting over the top of each other and then going into their individual auditions. The guy that sings ‘Marriage of Figaro’, the guy that sings ‘A Wandering Minstrel I’. He's got such a high tenor, he sounds like Kermit the frog, he's like [singing] “a wandering minstrel”! So funny. And yeah, as you say, then getting to the show itself is really something. I don't think that the film let's you down there, just having the characters not understand that it would be appreciated as a satirical smash is such a joy. The stylistic choices that they choose for the theater show is so much fun; giant cannons and dancers. I mean, we do have to talk about the inherent sexism in this film and indeed, all of Mel Brooks work at some point, which is very evident on stage in that scene, and in previous scenes as well. That stuff's tricky, the Ulla character is bad and legitimately full on 100% sexist.
SAM: Barely a character. Yeah, you don't need, you don't need that character in the film. But I guess at the time, maybe that was supposed to be funny? The character is a secretary that they, they treat themselves and I think he even says...
SIMON: A toy
SAM: Buy you a toy.
SIMON: He wants to buy himself a toy
SAM: Bloom doesn't understand what this means. And then they do you see the character of Ulla who's wearing like a plastic raincoat and he can click his fingers and she takes it off and starts dancing.
SIMON: It's really grim.
SAM: That was considered a joke at some point, and it's weird watching that in the film now.
SIMON: It's also weird because the gaze is not just the characters who are titillated by Ulla. It's very much "and this is for us as well boys". Like that's very much what the film is doing and it's horrible. It's a sad shame. And then those characters exist in the rest of Mel Brooks work as well. It was...
SAM: It's that sleazy part of comedy, which you do think of when you think of like 60s nightclubs and 70s, like the Carry On films. You know, it's that sensibility of being quite exploitative, which is weird that it actually carries on into the stage show, which was written in the noughties. And then that late 90s/00s and the film that was made in the noughties.
SIMON: Yeah, I think, I think was on Broadway in 2001. And that film is what 2005?
SAM: Watching it now, do you have a fondness for it because you enjoyed it when you were younger as a child? Or do you if you watched it, you know, as a 32 year old man, watching it now, would you enjoy it as much as you, you do?
SIMON: I think it's a film that I've loved for 20 years. And I feel like yeah, I probably I probably have less of a great time if I watched it now for the first time. I think those two performances from Wilder and Mostel are so undeniably imbued with like, proper comic genius. I think it does enough to get you through when other things aren't working or are actively repellant. It's really tricky stuff. It's such a shame to reappraise things from your past childhood loves and be like, well, that doesn't work anymore. That's that for the bin. And I think while moments of this film, two scenes of this film, the two Ulla scenes, are toxic, I think the rest I feel so warm-hearted and so generous towards the rest of it that I think that stuff still works. It's really it's really tricky. God I just love Mostel and Wilder so much. I think they're such a perfect partnership.
SAM: I think one of the great assets in Mel Brooks's arsenal is he can write a song and he knows who to work with for writing music.
SAM: It would be so bad if this film was about putting on a show but a musical show but the music was terrible. The music is great.
SIMON: It's really good. I think you know in Garth Marenghi's Darkplace the character of Garth Marenghi has a credit that says theme tune based on tune originally whistled by Garth Marenghi or whatever. I think that's genuinely true of Mel Brooks, I think like, it's pretty like [sings] 'Springtime for Hitler and Germany', I think that comes from Mel Brooks heads and I think he like records himself doing that and sent it over to John Morrison. And that's that. I think he did the same thing with the musical in the early noughties. He just knows a tune and doesn't know what to do with it, gets a guy in to write it out.
SAM: And it does lend itself to a musical adaptation because of that as well I think. He's got you know, he knows a bit about music...
SIMON: Yeah yeah yeah
SAM: ...which is which is really fun and music and comedy do for me anyway, they hit a sweet spot, which I do really enjoy.
SIMON: 100%. I mean, that's yeah, that's one of the key reasons that I've chosen this film. Those are some of my key loves!
SAM: In researching for this podcast, I watched Mel Brooks's Oscar acceptance speech.
SIMON: You've done so much research!
SAM: Hey, you know, not a fly by night.
SIMON: Really good.
SAM: I mean, all of the Oscars features are put on the Academy's YouTube channel, which is very nice for us as film nerds. It's really fun watching Mel Brooks come up on stage and accept his award whilst they're playing 'Springtime for Hitler'. And it's the Academy band, this huge 50 piece orchestra playing this and you're like, Oh, that's a really good song! Like a giant orchestra can play this at the most prestigious event in the film calendar and they're playing 'Springtime for Hitler'! Stanley Kubrick's just lost an Oscar! 'Springtime for Hitler' as Mel Brooks bounces on stage.
SIMON: Haha! Yes, so good. Yeah, it's one of the key strings to that films bow we have that theme from minute one it is the opening credits. It's like a part of the fabric and it's great. It's a well constructed song. It's really really funny with great jokes in it. I'm going to watch that acceptance speech, that's a great tip thank you.
[90 Mins or Less Film Fest Jingle]
SAM: So The Producers is in the festival!
SIMON: Thank you!
SAM: It's the first film in the festival.
SIMON: It's been accepted!
SAM: It's accepted. You've filled out the paperwork I've dutifully read everything, you've ticked all the right boxes and, and here you are. So the film's on how do you, I mean film festivals get lots competition, lots of, you know, things trying to get people's attention. How do you get people to come and watch The Producers? Do you, do you have an idea for maybe a gimmick that is like okay, come and see The Producers tonight guys because I've got a dot dot dot?
SIMON: We have to be very careful here. We are as a world experiencing a global shift to the right. I'm not a Secret Cinema fan, not my vibe, not my bag, don't like it and I would not recommend hanging giant swastikas from the rafters. Terrible idea! I think that would be genuinely tasteless. Really awful. So would not recommend! It's the first thing came into my head because that's what they do in the number! Horrible. I think the way you have to get people in, I think you have to get Mel there, right? He's alive, he's 92?
SAM: He's doing a show in Vegas right now.
SIMON: Great guy. He was he was in London this year. He came and did the you know, in conversation. Mel's the key here and with the you know, there's a full generation of people, like John Williams is coming to London at the end of the year to play some of his hits. And not to be morbid about these things, how many more times is John Williams gonna come to London? Not many. Am I going to see him? Absolutely I am, and I think Mel and his age, is the key here. If Mel's coming to London, you're getting a ticket because this guy's 92! You don't know how much longer is going to be around for. And you want to hear a sweet little old man tell some anecdotes about a film he made 50 years ago? Yes, please! Thank you very much, hold the giant swastikas. We don't need them, we don't want them. Yeah, I think I think that's the hook, that's what I’d go for.
SAM: I feel like Mel would be okay with this as well. I feel like he's approve some sort of copy on the poster, which is, you know, 'One last chance to see!'
SIMON: Exactly. And I think Mel might be interested in the festival. I bet all of his films or I bet most of his films are under 90 minutes. I've not checked this out. There's no basis in fact here, but he feels like to me the kind of guy that makes a short film. I bet Spaceballs is not going to be anything over 85 minutes long. I mean, how long is Dracula Dead and Loving It? Is it longer than half an hour? It shouldn't be. I think he’d approve of the festival, I think he'd fly over. I think if the festival can afford to pay for first class flights for Mel he'd very much appreciate it. If not, I'm sure he'd come over purely for the love of cinema.
SAM: Yeah, he'll he'll be okay in coach. I'd come to watch Mel Brooks present The Producers. That'd be great.
SIMON: I'm so glad because you're hosting the festival. I'm glad you'll be there. I'll see you there on opening night!
SAM: Do you think this film could or should be longer than 88 minutes?
SIMON: Absolutely not. No, no, no. I mean, it stretches it out at 88 minutes. There's stuff in that film I'd get rid of. The film of the musical version from 2005, that film is a, it's like 134 minutes and it feels it, it's so long.
SAM: The nice thing about this film and this question is actually we have proof that someone has made a longer version of it, and it's not as good.
SAM: You can just put them side by side. And it's just a fact.
SIMON: I wouldn't change, oh no, I would change a thing, but I wouldn't make it longer.
[90 Mins or Less Outro Bed]
SAM: So there we have it. Mel Brooks's The Producers, the first film in the 90 Minutes or Less Film Festival. Thank you, Simon for coming on today and being the first guest on the podcast. You can follow Simon on Twitter @SiRenshaw. Simon and I have also worked together on the Picturehouse podcast for a number of years do have a look at our pod archive. We've got pods that go back about 8 years on there. So if you like hearing our voices in the same place, do take a look at some of the Picturehouse podcast episodes over there. And thank you listeners for downloading this first episode of a strange new podcast that you've probably never heard of before. It really means a lot to us. If you liked what you heard, please rate us or subscribe or tell your friends, send a tweet or or a text or or maybe write a letter. It really means a lot. Any sort of conversation you have off the back of this show will really benefit the podcast and maybe we'll find some more people to join this ridiculous venture.
The podcast was produced today by Louise Owen and me Sam Clements. Our artwork is by Sam Gilbey, our music is by Martin Austwick. Do check out Martin's podcast 'Song by Song'. By the way, it's one of my favourite shows and it's such a thrill to have Martin doing the music for this podcast. And the show was edited by Luke Smith, a hero of mine. Thank you, Luke. So that's it really. We'll be back in a couple of weeks time with a new episode, we'll have a brand new guest talking about a brand new film. Until then you can find us on social media, specifically Twitter and Instagram, we're on some of the social medias. Anyway, we're on Twitter @90MinFilmFest and it's the same on Instagram. If you've got any questions or just want to say hi, you can find us there. Thank you for listening. Goodbye.
[90 Mins or Less Film Fest Music]
Transcribed by https://otter.ai