Springtime for...You Know Who
Now that I'm in Berlin, when there's been a rare break from the IFA tech show I'll wander around town. And reading through guidebooks, you see things like, "Down two blocks on Wilhelmgrunderbichtenzermeisterstrasse, you'll find Adolph Hitler's office." No, thank you, I think, unless it's to see it firebombed, and even then.
(In fairness, the city -- and I assume, other parts of the nation -- does an impressive job in being forthright about its ghastly, inhuman past. There are placards throughout the streets pointing out sights of significance, and what their history was, rather than burying them hidden. But having them pointed out and going out of your way to visit them are two different concepts, and not for everyone.)
Anyway, being here in Berlin I thought thought it would be appropriate on this last posting before heading back to go back to another part of history. In this case, 1968, and the original version of The Producers. The Song has now become iconic, but try to imagine seeing this for the very first time, not knowing what was coming, except maybe what you'd heard. And all this, only a mere 23 years after the end World War II itself...
Of course, brilliant as The Song is itself, it may well be the last 10 seconds that follow which help make the sequence leap to even better heights. Not every filmmaker would have the guts to tack that on. But then, if Mel Brooks didn't have those guts we wouldn't gotten the 3-1/2 minutes that came before. I can only imagine the studio executives watching in the screening room and saying, "Er, Mel, can't you time it down to maybe, say, two seconds?" And him screaming, "NO!! That's the joke!!"
9/7/2013 02:46:46 pm
A good example of just how perfect that song is can be found in the movie version of the musical. John Barrowman, West End star, Broadway vet and huge UK TV personality; bleached his hair, one assumes to look more Aryan, just to sing the lead part in this number. That wasn't a career move, it had to have been because he wanted to do the song that bad.
9/8/2013 11:22:54 am
Interesting point. Yeah, I think the chance to re-create an iconic song in film history would have a strong pull. The advantage here for him is that it's not like saying, "Oh, my God, I have to re-do Fred Astaire" or Gene Kelly, which some might try to avoid. It's the song itself and its staging that has become legendary.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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