Oscar Movies: Producers (1968)–Mel Brooks Cult Comedy Starring Zero Mostel

In 1968, Mel Brooks made directorial and writing debut with “The Producers,” a modestly budgeted comedy, starring Broadway favorite Zero Mostel and a newcomer named Gene Wilder.

After being blacklisted for many years, Zero Mostel gets to play one of his best roles, a hard-luck Broadway type who comes up with a brilliant scheme, why not find the worst possible play and sell shares of it to gullible backers, so that when it flops he can pocket the money.

He is assisted by his accountant, played by the gifted comic Gene Wilder.

Mostel finds the “perfect” vehicle: Neo-Nazi Kenneth Mars’ apen to Der Fuhrer, which he tuns into a musical titled “Springtime for Hitler.”

Unexpectedly, the audience thinks the awful play is a put-on and the musical becomes a smash hit.

Despite poor distribution, and initially negtaive critical response, the movie became a sleeper hit and earned Brooks an Oscar for Original Screenplay.

Over the years, it has become a cult classic and turned into a successful Tony Award-winning Broadway musical.

Oscar Nominations: 2

Story and Screenplay (Original): Mel Brooks
Supporting Actor: Gene Wilder

Oscar Awards: 1

Story and Screenplay

Oscar Context:

Brooks’ screenplay was the surprise winner in a year of touch competition, which included scenarious for “Faces,” “The Battle of Algiers,” and “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

The winner of the Supporting Actor Oscar was vet stage actor Jack Albertson for the Vietnam War drama, “The Subject Was Roses.”