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Film / The Producers

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"It's absolutely amazing. That under the right circumstances, a producer could make more money with a flop than he could with a hit."

The Producers is a 1967 comedy film written and directed by Mel Brooks; it stars Zero Mostel as failed Broadway producer Max Bialystock and Gene Wilder as fearful accountant Leo Bloom. The film, now considered a comedy classic, launched Brooks' long film career; several decades later, he adapted it into a Broadway musical starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick (as Bialystock and Bloom, respectively) which won twelve Tony Awards (the most Tonys a Broadway production has ever received). The show and original film also won two Grammy Awards (Best Long Form Music Video and Best Musical Show Album) and an Academy Award for best screenplay, making this production responsible for six of Mel Brooks' collection of eleven major awards in the entertainment industry. The Broadway adaptation was itself adapted into a film in 2005 (featuring Lane and Broderick in the primary roles), but this adaptation wasn't as well-received as the original film or the Broadway production.

In all versions, the story depicts Bialystock and Bloom meeting for the first time and immediately falling into a get-rich-quick scheme: realizing that the IRS never investigate the financial books of failed plays, they plan to oversell shares in a Broadway production by a wide margin, then deliberately produce a horrific flop which closes in one night, leaving them free to flee the country with the remainder of the massive initial investment.

The two schemers choose as their Broadway bomb Springtime for Hitler, a "love letter" to the German dictator written by unrepentant Nazi Franz Liebkind. In the original film, their chosen director is Roger DeBris, who is wholly untalented and flamboyantly gay, while Hitler is played by Lorenzo St. DuBois ("LSD"), a charismatic but seriously brain-damaged hippie. In the musical, Liebkind is chosen for the role of Hitler, but breaks his leg at the last minute and is replaced by DeBris.

Bialystock and Bloom's plan culminates in a production which the opening night audience finds funny (they think it's satire), and since the play is announced to be a smash success, things only go downhill from there.

Provides Examples Of:

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    The Original 1967 Version 
  • Actually Quite Catchy:
    • Leo starts singing along with "Springtime for Hitler" when it seems their scheme is going right. His head is bobbing along to the rhythm.
    • One of the theater patrons is singing "Springtime for Hitler" off-key during intermission. This, combined with another patron cheerily asking others, "Would you believe in a million years you'd ever love a show called 'Springtime for Hitler'?!" alerts Max that something is not right.
  • Adaptation Distillation: In-universe, adapting Springtime for Hitler, which was intended to be a serious piece about how awesome Hitler was, into a musical with wacky actor choices turned it from a guaranteed flop into a massive hit.
  • Adolf Hitlarious: Springtime for Hitler owes its roaring success to Hitler being inadvertently played for laughs.
  • Ahem: Leo does this while going over Max's account. When he actually switches to saying "cough, cough", Max delivers this precious insult:
    Max: I assume you are making those cartoon noises in order to attract my attention. Am I correct in my assumption, you fish-faced enemy of the people?
  • All Germans Are Nazis: Exploited. This fact is part of what compels Max to pick Springtime for Hitler in the first place; the script contains such a viewpoint. And since Max's intention is to get a play so jaw-droppingly offensive that it closes in one night, it's perfect.
  • All Part of the Show: Liebkind's causing a commotion in the audience and then his storming onto the stage in an effort to end the production.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Bloom and Bialystock, which tells you how much they're willing to do just to get the play produced. Both of them spit on the Nazi armbands when they throw them away.
  • Amusing Injuries/Bandage Mummy: What the protagonists end up suffering at the end; Franz is the mummy, still wearing his Nazi helmet.
  • Audience-Alienating Premise: In-Universe, Springtime for Hitler is picked for this reason.
    Leo: (grinning) This won't run a week!
    Max: A week! Are you kidding? This has got to close on page four!
  • Artistic License Music: LSD's backing band onstage for "Love Power" consists of a keyboard, a saxophone, and a guitar, but the song is clearly accompanied by a full orchestra with drums and bass and horns and even an extended flute solo.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Ulla's Swedish. They're all actual Swedish words, but it's completely grammatically incorrect: the "god dag min vän" is said as "god dag min vännen", which is closer to "good day my the friend".
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: How the judge's request for a verdict is treated by the jury foreman.
    Foreman: (You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me! tone) Your Honor, we find the defendants incredibly guilty!
  • Becoming the Mask: A rare negative example. Springtime for Hitler was intended to be a flop that would allow the titular producers to make off with the investment funds and flee the country. Unfortunately, the play was a success due to the audience thinking it was a political satire, which spelled doom for Max and Leo's entire scheme.
  • Berserk Button:
    Leo Bloom: "My blanket! My blue blanket! Gimme back my blue blanket! AAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"
    • Franz Liebkind can't stand Winston Churchill.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Ulla answers the phone with, "God dag på dig!" (Swedish for good day to you).
    • Combined with Punny Name: Franz Liebkind. Literal translation: Lovechild...a euphemism for bastard.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Max and Leo are jailed for their attempt at a scam, even though the investors he tried to swindle argue for their release and no one was hurt. Even so, they make a new musical in jail while trying to enact the same scheme, while reasserting their friendship.
  • Black Comedy Rape:
    Hold Me, Touch Me: "We'll play, 'The Abduction and the Cruel Rape of Lucretia', and I'll be Lucretia."
    Max: And I'll be rape.
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Averted intentionally.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Bialystock does this when he turns to the camera saying "This man [Leo] should be in a straitjacket." This leads to a neat outtake in the musical film, where Max instead says the line to a statue. Nathan Lane delivers it to the camera, then realizes "That's the first one."
  • Bribe Backfire: Invoked by Bialystock to insult a well-respected reviewer, thus guaranteeing a bad review.
  • Brick Joke:
    • "Go to work." (Ulla plays go-go music, and dances.)
    • Also Bialystock's referring to actors in general and then his cast of convicts as "animals."
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Frequent with Liebkind and Ulla. When Liebkind does a Winston Churchill impersonation to condemn Churchill's parodic pronunciation of the word "Nazis".
    "Nharzees, Nharzees" wasn't "Nharzees", it was Nazis!
  • Bromantic Comedy: Basically what the main story of this film is, with Max teaching Leo that, as the remake puts it, "there is more to him than there is to him".
  • Bungled Suicide: Toward the end, Franz Liebkind attempts to shoot himself, but the gun fails to go off.
    "Boy, ven things go wrong..."
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Max and Leo assume that Roger deBris is the worst director they could find. They are very put out to learn that Roger is actually a good director because, for all his quirks, he knows how to stage a decent story from a bad script.
  • Busby Berkeley Number: Springtime for Hitler's opening, complete with the dancers forming a swastika.
  • Call-Back: One of the dirty games that Max plays with little old ladies is where he is a chauffeur named "Rudolpho". When Max is swimming in money, he has his own limo. The chauffeur's name is Rudolpho.
    • Also Max at the end, referring to his new cast of convict-actors as "animals". (See below under Take That!.)
  • The Cameo: Brooks' voice dubbed into the "Springtime for Hitler" number:
    "Don't be stupid/Be a smarty/Come and join/The Nazi Party!"
  • Camp: The production of "Springtime For Hitler" is over-the-top flamboyant, featuring Chorus Girls and tap dancers in Nazi uniforms, models in skimpy outfits inspired by German pretzels and beer, and pyrotechnics being shot from World War II tanks. This is, unfortunately for the protagonists, exactly what makes it so popular.
  • Camp Gay: De Bris, and his assistant Carman Ghia. Picked by Bialystock as "the wrong director" that will utterly ruin the production. Unfortunately for them, he was the perfect director to turn the whole thing into a hit political satire.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: Roger de Bris.
    Roger: Messieurs Bialystock and Bloom, I presume? Ha! Forgive the pun!
    Leo: (aside to Max) What pun?
    Max: (aside to Leo) Shut up! He thinks he's witty!
  • Captain Obvious:
    "Adolf": Hey man, you're German!
    General: We're all Germans!
    "Adolf": That's right! That means we cannot invade Germany! I mean, I got all my friends here!
  • The Casanova: Bialystock's impressive string of successes, albeit all with women even older than he is.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Leo in the "blue blanket" scene, where he frantically tries to grab at his blue blanket in a fit of hysteria.
  • Chorus Girls: Springtime for Hitler features goose-stepping chorus girls.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Franz Liebkind. Even aside from his blatant Nazism, he's more than a little strange. We first see him on the roof hanging out with his birds, who are apparently his friends...who he talks to. Then he attends the opening night performance of "Springtime for Hitler" wearing his Nazi helmet and what's more, he goes up on stage in the middle of the show to berate the audience for laughing at his beloved Fuhrer.
    • Lorenzo Saint Dubois is seemingly unaware of why he's nicknamed LSD, and has an acid flashback during his audition.
  • Complexity Addiction: Bialystock (and Bloom's) plan would have worked — if he had just produced Liebkind's script exactly as written, in all its illiterate, appalling, Nazi propaganda "glory". But Max just had to keep adding more schlock to it to ensure that the play failed (because a play written by an unrepentant Nazi trying to burnish Hitler's reputation might find a receptive audience on Broadway...). In the end, what should have been an occasion for shocked silence and tomatoes ran smack into Crosses the Line Twice because Max Bialystock just could not get out of his own way.
  • Creator Cameo: Mel Brooks' voice is dubbed in for a singer in "Springtime for Hitler". Mel only sings: "Don't be stupid, be a smarty, come and join the Nazi Party" for dancer Tucker Smith.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Ulla, after Franz has taken the office by storm and Max and Leo are hiding under the desk:
    Bialystock: (after being badly startled by Ulla asking if he wants coffee) Why don't you ask the gentleman with the gun — the gentleman who is shooting at us — if he'd like some coffee?
    Ulla: (nods and goes off camera) Would you like some coffee? (Max facepalms)
    Franz: (offhandedly) Yes, please. Black. Two sugars.
  • Conspicuous in the Crowd: The audience at opening night of Springtime for Hitler is sitting aghast during the opening number, their mouths hanging in shock. Only Franz Liebkind, the author, is clearly enjoying the show with a big grin on his face.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: In-universe. This is why the audience loves Springtime for Hitler: they think it's satire and irreverent political commentary instead of a pro-Nazi musical, because it's too over-the-top offensive for them to take it at face value.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Part of what makes Max and Leo's downfall so ironic; Springtime for Hitler easily could have made them filthy rich if they had treated it as a legitimate business venture. But since they try to get rich by dishonestly swindling their investors, they get sent to prison and wind up with nothing.
  • Dear Negative Reader: In-Universe example. Liebkind orders an audience member to stop laughing at the show, screaming, "You are the audience! I am the author! I OUTRANK you!"
  • Dehumanization:
    Leo Bloom: Actors are not animals! They're human beings!
    Max Bialystock: They are? Have you ever eaten with one?
  • Delayed "Oh, Crap!": Franz after noting "And zis IS ze quick fuse." — ZE QUICK FUSE?!
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "This is wine, women, and song. And women."
  • Despair Event Horizon: Bloom staring into space when the play is a hit.
    Leo: Mrs. Cathcart — 50%. Mrs. Biddlecombe — 50%. Mrs. Wentworth — 50%. Mrs. Resnick — 100%...
  • Digital Destruction: At least on the Shout! Factory Blu-ray and DVD, the 5.1 remix replaces "Springtime for Hitler" with the soundtrack's version, resulting in the loss of some sound effects.
  • Dirty Old Woman: "Hold Me, Touch Me," as well as most of Bialystock's other conquests.
  • Disco Dan: A darkly comedic example in Franz Liebkind, an unrepentant Nazi who acts as if it was still the 1930's/40's and the Third Reich was still at the height of its power, speaking fondly of figures like Hitler and Goebbels as if they were still alive or in power, and trashing Allied political figures such as Winston Churchill even after they had died or were no longer relevant in current politics.
  • Ditzy Secretary: Ulla can't type, knows little English, and spends most of her time dancing. Max clearly hired her exclusively for her looks (and is also implied to be sleeping with her).
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: "You have exactly ten seconds to replace that look of disgusting pity with one of enormous respect!"
  • Downer Ending:
    • In-Universe, Roger de Bris has issues with the third act.
      Roger: That whole third act has got to go. They're losing the war. It's too depressing.
    • Also inverted with the movie's actual ending. Even though the protagonists go to jail for fraud and blowing up the theater, they take advantage of the situation by staging a new musical in prison.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: The production's use of Hitler and WWII for comedy. Of course, that's the point. In-Universe, Max tries to invoke this and make the show flop, but instead succeeds via Crosses the Line Twice.
  • Dumb Blonde: Ulla. See Comically Missing the Point above for one example.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: This being Mel Brooks' first movie, it's a bit straight-forward compared to his later comedies.
  • Easily Forgiven: Franz has apparently gotten over Max and Leo making a mockery of Hitler, since he helps them with Prisoners of Love.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Max when looking at Ulla.
  • Epic Fail: After the scam is exposed, Max tries to blow up the theater as a last desperate gambit to avoid consequences. Not only do the explosives not go off, he's so obvious about what he's doing that he gets immediately arrested. It gets him found "incredibly guilty" by the jury and thrown in jail.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Bialystock's face when Leo muses about his "creative accounting idea".
  • Europeans Are Kinky: Ulla has no problem being hired as a professional Ms. Fanservice, dancing around in skimpy outfits on the job and even casually propositioning her boss.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": "Hold Me, Touch Me". Also, The Bartender is called "innkeeper" by Bialystock while he and Bloom celebrate the expected failure of Springtime for Hitler.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!:
    Franz: Ha ha ha, ja ja, you see zis? You see zis here vat I have told you? Yeah, zis is an example of smartness here. I have said that zis is ze quick fuse. Huh? And zis IS ze quick fuse! ...ZE QUICK FUSE?!
  • Explosive Stupidity: The result of using the quick fuse.
  • Eye Take: The reaction shot of the audience after the opening number of "Springtime for Hitler". (They paid to see a Broadway musical titled "Springtime for Hitler"! What did they expect?)
  • Failure Gambit: The core of the plot is of course a Failure Gambit that... fails.
  • First-Name Basis:
    • At the park, Max suggests to Leo to call him by his first name.
    • In Leo Bloom's "Whom Has He Hurt" speech, he says that Max Bialystock was the first to ever call him "Leo", which he finds refreshing after being called "Bloom" even when he was in kindergarten.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: During the final scene in the prison, a poster can be briefly glimpsed advertising the new play, with everybody involved using their official prisoner number rather than their name.
  • Freeze-Frame Introduction: A freeze-frame intro is utilized in the opening Video Credits, complete with a Wild Take by Zero Mostel.
  • Fruit of the Loon: Watch for the banana at the end of LSD's audition.
  • Fun with Acronyms: "Lorenzo, baby! Lorenzo St. DuBois!" He even says outright that his friends call him "LSD" as a nickname.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • Carmen is really affected by LSD's song "Love Power" and is grasping Roger's hand romantically.
    • While the audience is staring in gobsmacked horror at the play's opening number, Franz is grinning like a loon.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Yeah, this doesn't work on Leo.
    "I'm in pain, and I'm wet...and I'm still hysterical!"
  • Get-Rich-Quick Scheme: What Bialystock and Bloom cook up, combining Hollywood Accounting and Springtime for Hitler.
  • Giftedly Bad: Roger de Bris. Not to mention Franz Liebkind, whose play was already terrible before de Bris got his hands on it, and LSD, a "performance artist" of the worst kind.
  • Gilligan Cut: As the protagonists are about to be sentenced:
    Max: And we're very sorry, and we promise never to do it again!
    [Cut to them locked up in prison, doing it again.]
  • Gone Horribly Right: Max and Leo produce an extremely offensive musical, hoping that people will hate it and they can make off with the massively-oversold backing shares. The show crosses the line so thoroughly that it comes back again, and audiences find it hysterical. Max even invokes the trope outright:
    Max: I was so careful...I picked the wrong play, the wrong director, the wrong cast...where did I go right?
  • Green-Eyed Monster: When seeing a white Rolls drop off a man in an expensive tux, Max yells with a mixture of jealousy and admiration: "That's it, baby! When you got it, flaunt it. FLAUNT IT!"
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: In a sense — Leo Bloom has numerous triggers, but they cause him to fall non-violently to pieces. He gets better as the movie progresses.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: The film exists in a World of Ham, so this is only to be expected, but worth particular mention is the opening sequence Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder's characters first meet. Bialystock goes on a screaming rampage and Bloom has a full freak-out panic attack.
  • Hates Being Touched: Leo has a panic attack, screaming "Don't touch me! Don't touch me!" when Max tries to calm him down.
  • Have a Gay Old Time:
    • The line during the play "Deutschland is happy and gay".
    • And the play's original title is "Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgarden."
  • Here We Go Again!: At the end of the movie, Leo and Max have been thrown in prison for fraud. Max is producing a new musical entitled "Prisoners of Love" with a cast selected entirely from the inmates...and Leo has already sold at least 150% of the proceeds to the prisoners and guards — and the prison warden.
  • Hired for Their Looks: Ulla can't do anything secretarial and is hired simply because she's hot.
  • Homeless Pigeon Person: Subversion: Franz Liebkind, the crazy ex-Nazi playwright. Here, the pigeons prove that he is one of the Crazy Homeless People beyond a reasonable doubt. Mainly because he uses them for his crazy Nazi hijinks.
  • Ignore the Fanservice: As Max and Leo return to their office after the premiere of Springtime for Hitler, Ulla approaches Max in a zebra stripe bikini, and excitedly asks, "We make love?" Dejected over the failure of his Zany Scheme, Max rejects Ulla's offer, and tells her, "Go to work." She then turns on a record player and breaks out into a sexy dance, as Max trained her to do whenever he said that phrase, but he and Leo don't stick around to watch.
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction:
    • Roger complains that he's bored of musicals, all those "dopey showgirls in gooey dresses" going "two, three, kick, turn, turn, turn, kick, turn", and wants to do straight drama. He then notes that the play is depressing, and some showgirls going "two, three, kick, turn, turn, turn, kick, turn" will liven it right up.
    • Max promises to the judge at his trial "And may I humbly add, your Honor, that we've learned our lesson and that we'll never do it again." Cue Prisoners of Love.
  • Informed Flaw: Roger DeBris is supposed to be "the worst director in town", but subject matter aside, he puts on one hell of a musical. The only real criticism that could be said about his directing is that the aesthetic he prefers is a bit too campy.
  • Insane Troll Logic: "If everyone had a flower instead of a gun, there would be no wars!" Played for Laughs as part of LSD's hilariously insane musical number.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Upon hearing the play getting praise from people during the intermission, Max tells Leo not to panic as there are lots of musicals on Broadway, so it wouldn't necessarily be theirs...until somebody mentions the play by name.
  • Ironic Name: The Producers was chosen specifically as a Sarcastic Title, given Max and Leo are really bad at this stage production thing...
  • It's What I Do: Max's conversation with his landlord early on:
    Max: How can you take the last penny out of a poor man's pocket?
    Landlord: I have to. I'm a landlord.
  • Jaw Drop: The entire audience is seen doing it.
  • Just Following Orders: Franz Liebkind defaults to this mode when he realizes he's been blurting out his Nazi sympathies a little too loudly:
    I was never a part of ze Nazi Party! I vas not responsible! I vas only following orders! Vhy do you persecute me?! (starts singing "America the Beautiful")
  • Kansas City Shuffle: Max and Leo's scheme hinges on this. They plan to make their money by overselling shares to their investors (i.e. borrowing much more money than they actually need to make the play). They intentionally try to produce a bomb in the hopes that their investors won't expect a return on their investment, assuming that all of their money was lost when the play flopped—not realizing that Max and Leo already made a tidy profit before the play even premiered. As a bonus: they bank on the assumption that the IRS won't think to investigate a play that didn't make any money, assuming that it doesn't have any profits to tax.
  • Kinky Role-Playing: The favorite pastime of "Hold Me, Touch Me", who wants Max to play such games as "the innocent milkmaid and the naughty stableboy", "the contessa and the chauffeur," and of course "the abduction and cruel rape of Lucretia."
  • Large Ham:
    • Zero Mostel, full stop. Roger Ebert noted that it was highlighted by not only Max stripping off his cardboard belt, but holding up to Leo and dramatically tearing it in half and throwing it on the floor.
    Max: Bloom, I'm drowning. Other men sail through life, Bialystock has struck a reef. Bloom, I'm going under. I'm condemned by a society that demands success when all I can offer is failure. Bloom, I'm reaching out to you. Don't send me to prison...(screams directly in Leo's ear) HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLP!
    • Also, Bloom without his blanket.
  • Leaving Audience: Max and Leo want this to happen when they create Springtime for Hitler. The entire audience is on the verge of doing this right after the end of the opening number. Then LSD's Hitler appears on stage...
  • Loves Me Not: This sets up a bilingual joke in the Show Within a Show:
    Eva Braun (holding a flower): Er liebt mich, er liebt mich nicht, er liebt mir, er liebt mich nicht. (To Hitler) Du liebst mir nicht!
    Adolf Hitler: Hey, man...I lieb' ya, I lieb' ya, baby, I lieb' ya. Now lieb' me alone!
  • Madness Mantra: After Springtime for Hitler becomes a surprise hit, Leo keeps babbling "no way out" as he realises his and Max's scheme had failed.
    Leo: No way out. No way out. No way out. No way out. No way out. No way out. No way out.
  • Male Gaze: Half of Ulla's screentime in the original. Also, in-universe, Leo can't glance away for a second.
  • Misplaced a Decimal Point: Invoked. When begging Leo to not report his small-scale embezzlement at the beginning, Max tells him he should just misplace a few decimals.
  • Monkey Morality Pose: Max, Leo, and "Failure" briefly form the cliche for a moment in the bar across the street during intermission.
  • Mundane Made Awesome:
    Franz: Hitler...there was a painter! He could paint an entire apartment in ONE afternoon! TWO coats!
  • Ms. Fanservice: Ulla, stripperiffic dance included. Also, an Innocent Fanservice Girl.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Max suggests killing the actors may be the best solution to their problem.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: The duo's efforts to profit from the biggest flop on Broadway ends with the musical becoming a surprise smash and leaving Leo and Mad at a loss to what to do next since they used dubious means to fund it.
  • Nervous Wreck: Leo Bloom.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Lorenzo St. Dubois.
  • No Antagonist: The story has no antagonist. It's simply bad luck going against our Villain Protagonists.
  • Norse by Norsewest: Ulla. And her accent, which was requested specifically as "Swedish", had every Norse country thinking it was one of the other 4.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Roger De Bris was based on Ed Wood.
  • No Indoor Voice: Max Bialystock when he gets angry.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Considering how much World War II history Roger reveals himself to know throughout the movie, his claim that he never knew the Third Reich was in Germany seems far more like a test to see how Max and Leo respond to such a ridiculous statement.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Max and Leo overhear the opening-night audience's reactions to Springtime for Hitler.
  • Oktoberfest: The play has dancers dressed up in stereotypical German lederhosen and dirndl.
  • Older Than They Look: "Hold Me, Touch Me" was played by Estelle Winwood, who lied about her age (she was 85 during filming) to get herself cast, and was surprisingly agile during the physical comedy. Considering the woman died at age 101, she was one hearty dame.
  • Parallel Porn Titles: At one point, Max escorts a stunned, thumb-sucking Leo from a theater showing "War and Piece".
  • Poe's Law: Surprisingly Inverted In-Universe — instead of mistaking satire for the real thing, the poor choice of Hitlernote  makes the audience mistake pro-Nazi propaganda for an anti-Nazi satire.
  • Powder Trail: "Ahah! Zis is an example of smartness. I have said zat zis is ze kvick fuse, und zis is ze kvick fuse! ...Ze kvick fuse!?!"
  • Prayer of Malice: Max theatrically calls upon God to smite his landlord. The landlord tells God not to listen, Max is crazy.
  • Prisoner Performance: At the end of the film, Leo, Max, and Franz get sent to prison. While there, they write a new musical play, Prisoners of Love, which is even worse than the one they tried to make bad. Leo tries to pull off the same scam overselling shares of the play to everybody in the prison.
  • Punny Name:
    • DeBris is debris. (Bilingual Bonus Also points out "bris".)
    • Carman Ghia is Karmann Ghia. (Andréas Voutsinas thought he was going to get tar and feathered for the role. Fortunately, he wasn't.)
  • Reaction Shot: Used to great effect during the premiere of "Springtime for Hitler". The audience is at first shocked and disgusted, while Liebkind, Max, and Leo are delighted for different reasons. And then LSD comes onto the stage with his goofy Hitler and the faces of everyone begin to show an opposite reaction.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Mel Brooks based Roger DeBris' elevator on a real friend's. It, too, was tiny and could barely handle three people. And yes, he did tell people to remove their shoes before entering, too.
  • Refuge in Audacity:
    • The film itself. Roger Ebert liked to tell a story of a time he overheard a woman confront Mel Brooks in an elevator, saying, "Your film was nothing but vulgar!" Brooks responded, "Madam, my film rises below vulgarity."
    • Max and Leos scheme could be described as an example of "too much audacity, not enough refuge", though, in that it failed and when the IRS and the police got involved, they were found "incredibly guilty".
  • Reveal Shot: After the theater explodes, the scene switches to a bunch of old ladies weeping at what looks like a funeral service, but then the camera zooms out to show the protagonists actually are alive (if battered) and being tried at court.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: Max Bialystock likes to ask rhetorical questions. It frequently doesn't go well.
    • Right after Bloom meets Bialystock at the beginning of the movie:
      Max Bialystock: How dare you condemn me without knowing all the facts!
      Leo Bloom: Mr. Bialystock, I don't condemn—
      Max Bialystock: Shut up! I'm having a rhetorical conversation.
    • Later:
      Bialystock: Have I ever steered you wrong?
      Franz Liebkind: Always.
  • A Round of Drinks for the House: Max does this while celebrating with the delight of the one other patron currently in the bar.
  • Sanity Slippage: Franz was already loopy, but Springtime for Hitler makes him Go Postal. Funnily enough, he's a co-conspirator in Prisoners of Love.
  • Security Blanket: Leo keeps a bit of his baby blanket on him in his jacket pocket.
  • Set Behind the Scenes: It's about the making of a play.
  • Sexy Coat Flashing: Ulla does this at one point.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot
  • Sexy Packaging \ Covers Always Lie: The poster basically sold it as if it were some sort of strange, softcore, porn by including nothing but a line drawing of Ulla sporting a Hitler-style moustache. No mention of its being a comedy or the premise or even of Mel Brooks (who was already known as a comedy writer), just an attempt at offbeat sex-appeal. Not surprisingly, the film flopped.
  • Sexy Scandinavian: Ulla speaks no English and does little more than dance around and look pretty.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: Franz does this to gain access to Max's place.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One of the scripts Max reads in search of a flop has the opening of Kafka's The Metamorphosis. He rejects it as "too good."
    • Leo Bloom is named after the protagonist of Ulysses.
    • After Leo calms down from his blue blanket freak-out (see Berserk Button above), he asks to speak to Max, to which Max replies, "Yes, Prince Myshkin; what can we do for you?"
    • One of the singers auditioning as Hitler sings, "A Wandering Minstrel I".
    • Lorenzo is wearing a Campbell's Soup can. This was a very topical reference at the time.
    • A snippet of the title song of Flying Down to Rio is sung during the explanation of the scheme.
  • The '60s: Lorenzo, baby! Lorenzo St. Dubois! (But his friends call him "LSD")
  • Slow Clap: Beautifully subverted when the lone clapper is rounded upon by the rest of the audience.
  • So Bad, It's Good: In-Universe, the reason Springtime for Hitler becomes a surprise hit is people mistake it for irreverent political satire. This dooms Max and Leo's plans, and gets them investigated by the IRS.
  • Sorry to Interrupt: Leo interrupts Max "feeling up the old lady", but Max has to prompt him to fulfill this trope.
    Leo: Oh my God!
    Max: You mean "oops," don't you? Just say "oops" and get out!
    Leo: Ahahahahahahahaha...
    Max: Not "ahahahahahahah!" "Oops"!
    Leo: Oops! [slams the door]
  • Soul-Crushing Desk Job: Leo Bloom complains about his job as a CPA.
  • Spiteful Spit: When Liebkind gives them Nazi armbands, Bialystock and Bloom throw them away in evident disgust and spit on them.
  • Springtime for Hitler: invokedThe Trope Namer. The titular producers sell 25,000% of the production to investors and plan to create a play that will close on opening night, receiving almost no income, and therefore net them a substantial profit from the unused investment, since the IRS doesn't investigate flops. Their efforts to create a flop result in a blatantly pro-Nazi musical called Springtime for Hitler, a production starring a spaced-out hippie as Hitler. Unfortunately for the producers, audiences mistake the musical for satire and love it, resulting in a So Bad, It's Good play in-universe. Because the play does not flop, the producers will be completely unable to pay back their investors, resulting in their exposure in investment fraud.
    Max: I was so careful. I picked the wrong script, the wrong cast, the wrong director...Where did I go right?
  • Step Three: Profit: Subverted, in that Bialystock's six steps actually detail the route to profit — though he skips step 5, saying step 6 is that they'll be gone before step 5 happens.
  • Stock Foreign Name: Franz is a Stock German Name along with his pigeons named Otto and Hans.
  • Suddenly Shouting: Leo, prior to getting his confidence, has a tendency to scream without warning. Max has a tendency to do this occasionally as well.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: ZE KVICK FUSE!?! (To a massive amount of kaboom.)
  • Stunned Silence: The audience after the opening number of Springtime for Hitler.
  • Stupid Crooks: After Max and Leo pull their Springtime for Hitler, they decide to blow up the theater with a little help from Franz. However, they're not sure if they used the short fuse or the long fuse for their bomb detonator, and their way of testing to find out which one they used is to light the fuse they already primed for the bomb. And then they discuss how the fuse they lit is behaving like the quick fuse, which wouldn't have given them enough time to leave the building. And just before that: "Don't shoot! It's the dynamite! If you shoot it, it will get mad at us and blow us all up!"
  • Stylistic Suck: Max and Leo try to make pure suck and accidentally end up with So Bad, It's Good hilarity instead...which is bad because success is exactly how their attempt to pull off a scam will get them caught.
  • Subpar Supremacist: Franz Liebkind is a devoted Nazi. But rather than living up to the Nazi ideal, he's a nutcase who befriends pigeons and is a lousy playwright whose work can only be taken seriously if marketed as silly satire. Even Bloom and Bialystock hate being around him.
  • Take That!:
    Leo: Actors aren't animals; they're human beings!
    Max: They are, huh? You ever eat with one?
    • The entire concept behind Springtime for Hitler is Mel Brooks taking a gargantuan jab at Hitler and the Nazis.
  • Tap on the Head:
    Stagehand: Hey! What can I do for you?
    Franz: You will please be unconscious. (*tap*)
    Franz: Often, often, he would say to me "Franz..." OW! [collapses]
  • Terrible Interviewees Montage: And even for Springtime, Roger rejects the singing Hitlers as awful even for him (such as the bald Hitler warbling a horrible rendition of "Beautiful Dreamer"). LSD is hired because 1) he's completely inappropriate, so Max and Leo want him, and 2) stirs Roger and Carmen's hearts with a sincere love song.
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: "I'm in pain, and I'm wet...and I'm still hysterical!"
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Franz Liebkind, as well as St. Dubois' Hitler
  • Together in Death: Just before Franz tries to shoot himself, he rhapsodizes about how he will soon be reunited with his Führer.
  • Truth in Television: Because homophobia was so virulent in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, it was not uncommon for powerful gay men to "camp it up" and/or "play dumb" around powerful straight men who wanted to work with them as a way to test who would be safe for them to work with and who would end up becoming a potentially lethal problem for them. In this case, Max and Leo pass the test in proving that despite their obvious discomfort they will treat Roger and Carmen with respect (for the most part) and never prove to be a danger to them.
  • Unbuilt Trope: The film is a Trope Namer for Springtime for Hitler. However, the films shows how such a scheme is also a very serious legal gamble: Bloom and Bialystock oversell shares of their play, and intend to make a flop so that no one will expect to get a return on their investment. The play finds unexpected success because the ineptitude of the hippie actor makes the audience think the musical is a satire of Nazism. Having oversold shares in the production of the play, they now have obligations they can't pay back, and face charges of fraud. Finally, in a last desperate attempt to avoid responsibility, they try to blow up the theater, and that doesn't work either. Their impassioned plea in court is ignored, they are found "incredibly guilty" by the jury, and both of them go to prison.
  • Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: Driven by the fact that the cabin is very tight for three people.
  • Unconventional Courtroom Tactics: Leo tries to appeal to the judge's compassion and sympathy, "no harm done", the old ladies concur with an applause, and Max shows a deep remorse. An uplifting music accompanies the scene, it looked like a convincing defense, right? Smash Cut to the exterior of the jail where the duo is imprisoned.
  • Unwanted Assistance: Max to Leo at the trial, whose "defense" of Max begins with a list of all of Max's faults. Also, Max trying to throw water on Leo during his hysterical fit, and then trying to slap him when the water doesn't work. All of this only makes Leo freak out even more.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Lorenzo St. Dubois's performance unravels everything.
  • Villain Protagonist: Max and Leo may be funny, but they're both trying to defraud little old ladies and blow up the theater to coverup their misdeeds.
  • Villain Song: The opening number of Springtime for Hitler is a cheerful paean to Nazi Germany attacking the rest of Europe.
  • Walking Out on the Show: A few people walk out of Springtime For Hitler before the rest think it's a comedy.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Max considers himself one. It seems Leo only makes the situation worse.
    Max: They come here, they all come here. How do they find me?
  • Wham Line:
    • When Max and Leo find their guaranteed flop:
    Leo: "Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgarden." Wow!
    • The audience is about to walk out en mass after the opening number of Springtime for Hitler when one member says three words about Hitler that utterly ruin the producer's plans:
    Wait, he's funny!
  • What Is This Feeling?: It's called "happiness," Leo.
  • What the Hell, Hero?/Even Evil Has Standards: Leo to Max when he is contemplating killing the actors to save their necks:
    Leo: Have you lost your mind? Actors are not animals, they're human beings!
    Max: They are? Have you ever eaten with one?
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Lee Meredith has said that Scandinavian viewers attribute her supposedly Swedish accent to Scandinavian countries other than the ones they're from Danes say it's Swedish, Swedes say it's Norwegian, and so forth.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Roger DeBris, who is supposed to be in costume as the Grand Duchess Anastasia, to which he claims that he thinks he looks more like "Tugboat Annie."
  • Wild Take: Zero Mostel plays Max as a living cartoon. Even the opening credits freeze frame on one of his wild takes.

     The Musical and 2005 Version 
  • Actor Allusion:
  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • In the stage play, given that the Springtime for Hitler show is shown to the actual audience, everyone laughs immediately at the first ridiculous costume.
    • Thanks to Roger's Hitler, who is flamboyant with a heavy country accent, the audience starts returning to their seats and laughing their hearts out when he gives a coy wink to his main Nazi.
  • Adaptation Distillation: As funny as LSD was, the hippie jokes wouldn't translate as well to a modern audience. Plus, the Roger De Bris character from the original film was rather undeveloped since they couldn't get away with as much gay humor in the 1960s. Having De Bris play Hitler solves a lot of problems and makes the later versions even funnier.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The 2005 and theater version run almost an hour longer than the original 1967 film. Part of this is due to the musical numbers, but there are also plot points that were either fleshed out in the remake or added entirely, such as Leo and Ulla's romance.
  • Adaptational Intelligence: While she's still ditzy, Ulla is much smarter here, she's able to speak in full English sentences, seems to actually do receptionist work, and ends up as the female lead in Springtime for Hitler and Leo's love interest.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal:
    Roger: This crazy Kraut is crackers! He crashed in here and crassly tried to kill us.
    Carmen: Oh, Roger, what alliteration!
  • Argentina Is Nazi Land: Liebkind has been training pigeons to deliver messages to his Nazi friends in Argentina, only for the pigeons to fly the opposite direction. Later, when Liebkind is told that his play will be produced on Broadway, he exclaims:
    Franz Liebkind: Broadvay. Wait 'til they hear about this in Argentina! Ach, mein lieblings!
  • Artistic License History: An in-universe example, where Roger tells Max and Leo to have the second act of Springtime for Hitler rewritten so the Germans win the Second World War.
    Roger De Bris: They're losing the war?! Excuse me?! That's too downbeat!
  • Ascended Extra: In the original movie, Ulla was in roughly two scenes and had only a few lines which were nothing more than a few single words. In the musical and the movie-version of the musical, she's a major character.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign:
    • The "Good Luck" song, where Max yells "guten lachen" in his string of good luck yells. Guten lachen roughly translates to "good laughs."
    • Ulla's catch-phrase "God dag min vännen". Technically, all words are correct, but the grammar is shot to hell. She's actually saying "Good day my the friend." Correct phrasing would have been "God dag min vän".
  • Audience-Alienating Era: Max Bialystock appears to be going through an in-universe case of this at the time he meets Leo. By the end of the film he's implied to have come out of it.
  • Award-Bait Song: In the movie musical, Will Ferrell's soulful and heartfelt rendition of the "Gutentag Hop Clop" plays over the end credits.
  • Bad Boss: Mr. Marks, Bloom's CPA boss, is a demeaning boss who wastes no time insulting and demoralizing his employees, including Leo himself.
    Mr. Marks: Do I smell the revolting stench of self-esteem?!
  • Bait-and-Switch: At Max's trial, Leo and the old ladies show up to defend him. Leo says that Max believed in him when no one else did, and the old ladies assert that they don't care about the scheme. Even Roger says they gave him the best show he ever did. The judge seems touched...and then sentences Leo and Max to prison time. A scam is still a scam and they would have defrauded the IRS.
  • Batman Gambit: The scheme, which hinges on the assumption everyone will hate it. Unfortunately, everyone hates it too much, causing them to see it as satire when it accidentally turns funny.
  • Berserk Button: Whatever you do, do not take away or mess around with Leo's blue blanket. Max learns this the hard way when he messes with Leo's blanket, causing the accountant to become hysterical
    Leo: My blanket! My blue blanket! Gimme back my blue blanket! AAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Frequent with Liebkind and Ulla.
    • When Liebkind does a Winston Churchill impersonation to condemn Churchill's parodic pronunciation of the word "Nazis".
    Noses, wasn't Noses, it was Nazis!
    • Also with Liebkind:
    Franz: Ze penalty for braking ze Siegfried Oath...IS DESS!
    Max: "DESS!"? Is that anything like death?
    • And again, when Max passes the blame to Roger de Bris:
    Max: Why don't you shoot the actors?
    Franz: Ze actors?
    Max: Yes, "ze aktahz". Everyone laughed at your beloved Fuhrer tonight. Why? Because of the actors, they were all making fun of him!
  • Book Ends: The 2005 movie begins and ends outside the Schubert Theater, where Max Bialystock presents a Broadway musical.
  • Bromantic Comedy: Basically what the main story of this film is.
  • The Cameo:
    • Mel Brooks appears at the very end telling the audience to "get out!"
    • Brooks' voice is dubbed into the "Springtime for Hitler" number (it's the same line recorded for the 1967 version).
    "Don't be stupid, be a smarty/Come and join the Nazi Party!"
  • Camp Gay: De Bris and his team living with them, save for one just-as-over-the-top Butch Lesbian. They even sing a song about it. In fact, after Springtime for Hitler (starring De Bris as the Fuhrer himself) becomes a smash, Leo Bloom sings, during "Where Did We Go Right?", "Our leading man was so gay, he nearly flew away!"
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: Roger De Bris can't seem to make a good joke when greeting Leo and Max.
    Roger: Messieurs Bialystock and Bloom, I presume? Ha! Forgive the pun!
    Leo: (aside to Max) What pun?
    Max: (aside to Leo) Shut up! He thinks he's witty!
  • The Casanova: Bialystock's impressive string of successes, albeit all with women even older than he is.
  • Casting Couch:
    • Ulla benefits from it, of course, although it's only because she's attractive — no actual sex occurs.
      Max: There is always a role for the producer's girlfriend!
    • This scene also lampshades his previous The Casanova experiences.
      Max: Just once I'd like to see a woman on that couch that's under 85.
  • The Cast Showoff: In-universe in the original Broadway production, Gary Beach shines as Roger when the director has to play Hitler, surprising Max and Leo in-universe as they go Oh, Crap! after the show thanks to it being a hit. He not only sings and dances as a comedic Hitler, but also does a long tap-dance routine as part of ''Springtime for Hitler''. No wonder that in-universe, his performance brought down the house.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander:
    • Ulla's idea of "tidying up" the office is to paint everything white. Including the furniture, appliances, and the numbers on the safe.
    • Some of the things Franz believes about his beloved Führer are truly bizarre. Max and Leo mostly just go with it.
  • Composite Character: Due to LSD being Adapted Out him being Max's choice for the role of Hitler is given to Franz and his performance in said role saving the play is given to Roger.
  • Crisis Makes Perfect: This is what ends up dooming the scheme. Leo and Max think Roger is a terrible director after attending the rehearsals while noting that he's seriously dedicated to the craft. Then Franz breaks his leg with no understudy, and Max gets the idea for Roger to play Hitler instead on opening night. Even though Roger freaks out about being onstage as the star, his boyfriend gives up a pep talk that he can do it. Cue Roger bringing down the house. To add insult to injury, the original Broadway show had him do an extended tap-dancing routine, all while in-character as Hitler.
  • Counterpoint Duet: "We Can Do It" ends with Max trying to encourage Leo to help him with his scheme while, at the same time, Leo despondently refuses Max's offer while singing that the plan will fail.
  • Dark Reprise: "We Can Do It/I Can't Do It" notably echoes when the play is a success and Bialystock and Bloom argue over the plan's failure.
  • Denser and Wackier: While the original was pretty wacky when it wanted to be, it was fairly tame compared to what Mel Brooks would later direct. The 2005 version takes more of the larger-than-life aspects of the stage-musical; bombastic musical numbers, colorfully surreal set design, Surreal Humor, exaggerated characters and Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick ham it up harder than Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder ever did.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "This is wine, women, and song. And women."
    • Also:
      Max: The two cardinal rules of producing. One: Never put your own money in the show.
      Leo: And two?
  • Deus ex Machina: Bialystock and Bloom are completely pardoned for the serious fraud they have committed; the reason given is their play "brought joy and laughter into the hearts of every murderer, rapist, and sex maniac in Sing Sing".
  • Ditzy Secretary: Ulla, the receptionist hired by Max. She can't type, knows little English, and spends most of her time dancing on her desk. Max clearly hired her exclusively for her looks (and is also implied to be sleeping with her). In the stage version, she becomes lead actress in Springtime for Hitler. The ditziness is also toned down a bit in the stage show — Ulla's definitely a bit "out there," but most of her apparent airheadedness is a result of her barely speaking English, and not being able to phrase things the way she means. There are also no signs she's actually a bad secretary/receptionist, either.
  • Double Entendre: De Bris' song Keep It Gay.
    And so the rule is when mounting [Beat] a play!
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: In both the musical and its movie version, nearly everyone gets a happy ending. Examples include:
    • Max gets his fame back and starts producing smash hits again after Prisoners of Love goes to Broadway.
    • Leo gets to be a Broadway producer working alongside Max, producing more and more smash hits and is happily married to Ulla..
    • Roger DeBris gets to put on a smash hit Broadway musical and even star in it!
    • After being freed with Max and Leo, Franz gets to see his new musical, Prisoners of Love go to Broadway and be successful in the way he intended.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name:
    • It is claimed that Hitler's middle name was "Elizabeth."
    Franz: Not many people know zis, but ze Fuhrer vas descended from a long line of English qveens."
  • Europeans Are Kinky: At eleven o'clock, Ulla, a Swede, likes to have sex.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: Averted with Bloom. He's treated like a loser for wanting to wait until marriage.
  • Fake Irish: In-Universe. When the Irish Cops arrive at Max's office following Franz firing his gun, Max pretends to be Irish as well so he can bluff his way past them before they discover the evidence of his fraud. It doesn't work.
  • The '50s: Set in 1958, but there aren't that many blatant period markers and Anachronism Stew abounds (such as when the Village People show up during the "Keep It Gay" number).
  • Final Love Duet: Subverted with "Till Him," which basically resembles a Final Love Duet, except for the fact that they're Heterosexual Life-Partners.
  • First-Name Basis: In Bloom's intro to "'Till Him" speech, he says that Max was the first to ever call him "Leo" since before kindergarten.
  • Flipping the Bird: When Franz makes Leo and Max raise their pointer fingers to take the Siegfried Oath, they quickly switch to middle fingers behind his back.
  • Foreshadowing: During 'We Can Do It', Bloom sings to Max "You see Rio, I see jail". By the third act, Max is in jail and Bloom is in if they were to look toward each other, what would they see?
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man:
    • Amusingly subverted. When Leo becomes hysterical over Max messing with his blue blanket, the Broadway producer tries to calm him down by throwing water at Leo and slapping him later. Leo is still hysterical.
    • Played straight with Roger later on. Roger panics over being cast as Adolf Hitler for Springtime for Hitler when Franz has broken his leg and there is no understudy for him. Carmen slaps his boyfriend in the face and gives the man a pep-talk, uplifting Roger's spirits and renewing his morale.
      Carmen: You can do it, you know you can do it, and I know you can do it. You've been waiting all your lifetime for this chance, and I'm not going to let you pass it up. You're going out there a silly, hysterical, screaming queen, but you're coming back a great, big, passing-for-straight, Broadway star!
      Roger: All right, you're right! I'll do it! BY GOD, I'LL DO IT!!!
  • Get-Rich-Quick Scheme: As in the original, Bialystock and Bloom's scheme drives the plot.
  • Giftedly Bad: Subverted with Roger de Bris. He actually is a great director, and the man can sing and dance.
  • Glory Days: Before his fall from grace, Max Bialystock was a renowned Broadway producer with plenty to show for it. He spends the entire show trying to get his fame back and start living it up again with his scheme.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: In a sense — Leo Bloom has numerous triggers but they cause him to fall non-violently to pieces. He gets better as the movie progresses.
    • He does show a violent temper during the Gutentag Hop Clop, where Max has to hold him back from assaulting Liebkind for striking him throughout the song.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • It's subtle, but it's there. Ulla comes off as a bit flighty and sort of a space cadet (albeit partially because she's in a country where she barely speaks the language), but she did manage to write "When You've Got It, Flaunt It" all by herself in less than a day.
    • Roger de Bris ends up ensuring that the play is a success because of this. Despite being hired as the "worst" director they could find, Roger is actually a good director who gets along with his crew, is a hilarious actor, tap-dancer, and singer when he shows off, and has a sense of humor. Max and Leo are very upset after opening night.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: Good lord. The reel on the DVD is a quarter of an hour long and will reduce you to tears. Apparently, when Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick are in the same room together, they induce chronic laughing in each other.
  • Historical In-Joke: Franz sends a carrier pigeon to Argentina — a notorious haven for Nazis after WWII.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: There's an entire song number where everyone tells Bloom that wishing them "good luck" is actually bad luck, so while they sing it to him, Bialystock wishes all of the actors good luck, even putting a ladder over the back entrance and smashes a prop mirror, hoping that it would further jinx the play. Since his was intentionally trying to make a flop, the fact that it ends up becoming a smash hit can still be considered rotten luck.
  • Hope Spot:
    • On the opening night of Springtime for Hitler in the remake, for a few minutes it looks like Leo and Max's plan worked perfectly: the audience is disgusted and offended beyond belief and even physically assaults the one person who claps after the opening number. But then just as people are really starting to leave in droves, Roger as Hitler shows up, and his ridiculous appearance and mannerisms instantly convince everyone that the entire thing is a camp anti-Nazi satire, and they start laughing hysterically.
    • Another is when Franz is cast as Hitler. It's hinted that, if he hadn't broken his leg, the show would have flopped as planned because he was taking the bad show seriously.
  • "I Am Becoming" Song: The final part of "I Wanna Be a Producer" has Leo quitting his current job to fulfil his lifelong dream of becoming a musical producer and join Max in producing a Broadway musical. The song reappears in instrumental lines as the musical progresses as Leo draws closer to fulfilling his dream.
    Leo: I'm gonna be a producer;
    Sound the horn and beat the drum!
    I'm gonna be a producer;

  • "I Am" Song:
    • The beginning of "I Wanna Be a Producer" describes Leo's boring, backbreaking job as an accountant with many of his colleagues groaning over checks and numbers to crunch.
    • 'Heil Myself' expresses Hitler's comical rise to power to being Führer, especially with De Bris's Judy Garland monologue.
    • "Keep it Gay" shows off Roger De Bris's flamboyant and gay character, while also showing the queerness of his troupe and his boyfriend.
    • "When You got it, Flaunt it" is Ulla explaining her fan-service and sexiness.
    • In the stage version, "In Old Balverdia" shows who Franz is in about 5 seconds.
  • Ice-Cream Koan:
    Max: There's more to you than there is to you. [mouths: "What the fuck?!"]
  • In the Style of: "When You Got It, Flaunt It" clearly borrows a lot from burlesque.
  • "I Want" Song:
    • "I Wanna Be a Producer" describes Leo's lifelong dream to become a successful Broadway producer.
    • Also "The King of Broadway", where Max both laments his lost glory and vows to be on top again.
    • "Keep it Gay" is, in part about Roger's desire to make comedies.
  • Large Ham:
    • Max in "Betrayed".
      Max: Wait a minute. My name's not Alvin. That's not my life. (sobbing) Somebody else's life is flashing before my eyes(!) I'm not a hillbilly, I grew up in the Bronx! Leo's taken everything — even my past!
    • Bloom without his blue blanket is a wild screamer.
      Max: What's that? A handkerchief?
      Leo: No, it's nothing. It's nothing
      Max: (snatching it) If it's nothing, why can't I see it?
    • Franz goes all out in theatrics while expressing his loyalty to his "führer" almost all the time.
    • Roger and Carmen do not hold back any dramatic tendencies, especially in the original Broadway run and film.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: When Max looks through his old lady photos:
    Max: Where is "Hold Me Touch Me"? [checking photos] Kiss Me Feel Me, Clinch Me Pinch Me, Lick Me Bite Me, Suck Me F—Ah, here she is.
    • Notably averted in the stage production.
  • Leitmotif: "I Wanna Be A Producer" and "We Can Do It" occur frequently, notably with the latter occuring grimly when the plan fails and the former triumphantly when Leo earns his producer's hat.
  • Lighter and Softer: Both the musical and film based on it compared to the original dark comic film:
    • Given how Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick treat Max and Leo they've done a wonderful job to make it work.
    • Roger De Bris and his entire team, but he gets top props through his portrayal of Hitler.
    • Instead of Franz, Max, and Leo trying to blow up the theater, Max and Leo get into a fight over the books, and Franz wants to get them both for breaking the "Sigfried Oath" with a pistol. Franz gets his legs broken, Max gets arrested, and Leo escapes.
    • "Prisoners of Love" also gets worked in at Sing Sing and we see it hit Broadway after Max, Leo and Franz are pardoned in The Musical. We are also treated to the Reprise, "Leo and Max," which also has the page quote.
  • Literal Metaphor: "Quick, darling; back in the closet!"
    Max: Roll them in the aisles.
    Ulla: Okie dokie, I vill try. But there's just so many of them.
  • Madness Mantra: After Springtime for Hitler becomes a surprise smash, Leo constantly babbles "no way out..." every time Max reads the positive critical reviews.
    Max: "A satiric masterpiece!"
    Leo: No way out...
    Max: "A surprise smash!"
    Leo: No way out...!
    Max: "It was shocking, outrageous and insulting...AND I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT!"
    Leo: NO WAY OUT!!!
  • Medium Awareness: One song in the play ("Betrayed!") has Bialystock summarizing the events of the play up until that point, including an Intermission.
    • Ulla says in the play at one point, "Why Bloom go so far stage right?" In the movie, this is "Why Bloom go so far camera right?"
    • At the start of the play's second act, Ulla says she painted the office white during the intermission.note 
    • The Movie of the musical alludes to this in the credits song, "Nothin' Like A Broadway Show":
    Max & Leo: Nothing like a show on Broadway!
    Leo: There's nothing like a Broadway show!
    Max: Till you're in movies...
    Leo: There's nothing like a Broadway show!
    • Max comments on Leo's singing voice.
  • Misplaced a Decimal Point: Invoked. When begging Leo to not report his small scale embezzlement at the beginning, Max tells him he should just misplace a few decimals.
  • Mundane Made Awesome:
    Franz: Hitler...there was a painter! He could paint an entire apartment in ONE afternoon! TWO coats!
  • Ms. Fanservice: Ulla, stripperiffic dance included.
  • The Musical: Both in-universe and the film itself.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: Bialystock and Bloom's efforts to profit from the biggest flop on Broadway ends with their chosen musical becoming a surprise smash, dooming the scheme.
  • Nerds Are Nave: The biggest difference between the Musical's version of Leo and the original Film's version of Leo is that the musical Leo is more naive and in some ways fascinated by all the strange things around him even as they frighten him, often staring while Max is looking away as in the entire first meeting with Roger and Carmen. Matthew Broderick exploits his capacity for childlike wide open eyes to the maximum in this role.
  • Never My Fault: The song "betrayed" is nothing but Max rants his frustrations about Leo when he was also to blame for starting up their scheme to profit from the biggest Broadway flop.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Max and Leo convince Roger to sub in for Franz when the latter breaks his leg on opening night. Roger at first understandably says no, until his boyfriend tells him he can do it and Max and Leo cheer. Cue a showstopper Hitler that brings down the house with his hilarious interpretation, ensuring that the scheme fails.
  • No Antagonist: Just like the original.
  • Norse by Norsewest: Ulla is a Swede and a blonde Sexy Scandinavian.
  • No Sense of Humor: Max Bialystock, apparently. Anyone with any sense of humour could tell "where he had gone right."
  • Not What It Looks Like: In the 2005 version, after "Springtime for Hitler" is a success, Bloom and Max fight over the bank account books. Roger and Carmen walk in when Bloom and Max have hit the floor, with one on top of the other, and are saying "Give it to me!" Roger remarks, "Now, that's what I call celebrating!"
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Considering how much Roger reveals himself to know throughout the movie, his various odd statements when they first meet seem far more like a test to see how Max and Leo will respond, something gay men in power did in real life during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s as a way to see who they could trust and who they could not during the violent homophobia of the time (and despite their conniving, Max and Leo are never cruel or threatening to Roger or his entourage).
  • Offscreen Crash: Franz "breaking a leg".
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: The musical and 2005 movie end with Leo and Max walking off into the sunset.
  • One of the Boys: Shirley Markowitz, Roger's Butch Lesbian lighting designer, in comparison to the rest of his Camp Gay production team. Ironically, Shirley dresses and looks the most manly of all of them.
  • The Oner: Some scenes in the 2005 movie are made as these, especially in certain scenes when Max is singing. Most notable examples include the opening of Along Came Bialy.
  • Overly-Long Gag: "Yesssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss...sss?!"
  • Overly Long Name: Ulla Inga Hansen-Bensen-Janson-Tallen-Hallen-Svaden-Swanson (A name that will soon be up in lights - if they can find enough bulbs). And that is just her first name. We don't get to hear her last name, because they "don't have the time" to hear it. The courtroom scene briefly appears to build up towards it, only to reveal that she's married Leo and taken his last name instead.
  • Perpetual Tourist: Discussed. The most recent version also has Leo Bloom (temporarily) end up somewhere vaguely South American.
  • Poe's Law: Surprisingly Inverted In-Universe — instead of mistaking satire for the real thing, Roger De Bris's last-minute stand-in as an overly-camp Hitler makes the audience mistake pro-Nazi propaganda for an anti-Nazi satire.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The role of LSD doesn't translate well in the 21st century, and that, coupled with a society more open about homosexuality, allowed Roger De Bris to get a larger (and funnier) role in the play. One critic pointed out that the LSD character could still have worked in the remake since the story is now set in 1958 and the character in retrospect seems more like a Fifties beatnik than a New-Age Retro Hippie.
  • Prisoner Performance: Leo and Max get sent to prison at the end, where they put together a new musical play with their fellow inmates as performers called Prisoners of Love.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: Ulla now gets together with (and even marries!) Leo.
  • Punny Name:
    • Roger De Bris's surname is taken from the word "debris".
    • Carmen Ghia's name is taken from the Karmann Ghia sports car made by Volkswagen.
  • Queer People Are Funny: Roger De Bris and his entourage, particularly during "Keep It Gay".
  • Raging Stiffie:
    Ulla: You like it?
    Max: L— like it? I want you to know my dear that even though we're sitting down, we're giving you a standing ovation.
  • Reaction Shot: Used to great effect during the premiere of "Springtime for Hitler". The audience is at first shocked and disgusted, while Liebkind, Max, and Leo are delighted for different reasons. And then Roger De Bris comes into play with his goofy Hitler and the faces of everyone begin to show an opposite reaction.
    • Roger and Carmen stare in wide-eyed facepalm at Scott when he shows up during the "Keep it Gay" number with an enormous . . . ah, personality.
  • Reliably Unreliable Guns: Franz Liebkind's Luger jams and fires when dropped, with great comedic timing. The classic Luger's toggle action actually is somewhat temperamental.
  • Remake Cameo: Brad Oscar, who played Franz Liebkind in the Broadway version, later appeared in the movie musical as a taxi driver.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: In the 2005 movie, Max and Leo slip out of the theater during the performance of "Springtime for Hitler" and, in a deleted scene, head over to a bar across the street to celebrate the show's "failure".
  • Screen-to-Stage Adaptation: Not the first, but easily one of the most well-regarded, arguably kick-starting a trend that continued into the following decades.
  • Security Blanket: Leo keeps a bit of his baby blanket on him in his jacket pocket.
  • Sexy Scandinavian: Ulla in both versions, but perhaps more so in the original.
  • Sexy Secretary: The reason Ulla got hired.
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl: Ulla is not shy about showing off her physical beauty. Hell, "When You've Got It, Flaunt It" is practically a love letter to this trope, with Ulla singing about how, if a girl wants to get anywhere in show business, she better be ready and willing to show some skin.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The ending has Bialystock and Bloom putting on several familiar-sounding productions, which include: ''A Streetcar Named Murray''; ''She Shtupps to Conquer''; ''High Button Jews''; ''South Passaic''; ''Katz''; ''Maim''; and Death of a SalesmanOn Ice!
    • Going through a list of potential candidates for the worst play ever written, Bialystock comes across a synopsis for Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis. ("Nah, it's too good.") A Karmann Ghia is a model of Volkswagen. Leopold Bloom is the protagonist of James Joyce's novel Ulysses. At one point, Max refers to Leo as "Prince Myshkin"; this is the protagonist of Dostoyevsky's novel The Idiot.
    • Leo's line "When's it going to be Bloom's day?" is another reference to Ulysses; in fact, according to Word of God, that particular scene takes place on Bloom's Day. Tom and Mel were very surprised at how many people got the joke. In the 2005 movie, a calendar in Max's office sets the scene on Bloom's Day, June 16.
    • When Jason Alexander took over as Bialystock, he adlibbed in "Betrayed." Bialystock calls out Intermission and is scripted to sit down for a moment before continuing the show. Instead, Jason pulls out a playbill, flipping through it and said to the audience, "He's good, but he's no Lane." (Nathan Lane, of course, being the original player of Bialystock for the musical.)
    • Nathan Lane's understudy did something similar during the original run of the play. During "intermission," he turned to an imaginary companion and said, "I like the other guy better."
    • In the 2005 movie, during "I Want To Be A Producer", Leo descends a flight of stairs lit with his name. The lettering and border are identical to the Spaceballs logo.
    • The "Yiddish" which translates as "Who do you have to fuck to get a break in this town?" comes from a speech given by Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator.
    • The Siegfried Oath is named for Conrad Siegfried, the Big Bad of Get Smart, a TV show Brooks co-created with Buck Henry in the 1960s.
    • Bloom reminds Bialystock that actors are not animals, which Bialystock angrily disputes. Zero Mostel was critically acclaimed for his transformation sequence, without the benefit of makeup, into a rhinoceros in the play of the same name. In an inversion of this trope, Wilder would join Mostel in an ill-fated comedic movie adaptation of Rhinoceros.
    • When Ulla walks through the door and Max announces that they're casting today, Leo inquires about this and Max replies, "Just once, I'd like to see someone on that couch who's under 85." Hold Me Touch Me's original actress, Estelle Winwood, was 85 at the time of filming the original movie.
    • During the song "The King of Broadway", a man says "It's good to be the king", a line from History of the World Part I.
    • After the end credits of the 2005 movie, Mel Brooks says "Get out! It's over!".
    • "Heil Myself" was taken from the Mel Brooks film To Be or Not to Be.
  • Show Within a Show: The production of "Springtime for Hitler" that is the eponym of one notable trope here on this very wiki.
  • Sliding Scale of Adaptation Modification: The 2005 version lands on the Type 5 end of the scale (Identical Adaptation).
  • Snake Talk: "Yessssssssssssssssssssssssssss...sss?"
  • So Bad, It's Good: In-Universe, the reason Springtime for Hitler becomes a surprise hit. The musical adds Roger's camp and over-the-top portrayal of Hitler to sell it as satire instead of the straight musical Franz wanted. Roger implies that he did it on purpose since as a gay man Hitler is against everything the director is.
  • Springtime for Hitler: Just like the original 1967 film, Max and Leo attempt to profit from the biggest Broadway flop by producing a pro-Nazi musical. Max gets his two million from "old ladies" without intending to give any of that back since he and Leo intended to close the musical on opening night as a massive failure and claim the profits since the IRS doesn't investigate failed musicals. They initially have Franz cast as Hitler, but after Franz is injured, Roger Debris takes over the lead role...and his outrageous, over-the-top and campy portrayal of Hitler causes the musical to be mistaken for anti-Nazi satire and become a surprise smash, causing Max and Leo's scheme to fail and leaving them doomed to be charged for fraud since they can't pay back their investors.
    Max: The show was lousy and long; we did everything wrong.
    Where did we go right?

    Leo: "Christmas came early to Broadway this year, and guess who they stuffed in our stocking? Adolf Hitler!"
    Max: It was so crass and so crude, even Goebbels would've booed.
    Where did we go right?

    Leo: "Last night a star was born on Broadway: the lovely Miss Ulla Inga Hansen Bensen Yonsen Tallen-Hallen... (flips to the next page) ...Svaden-Svanson. We predict that her name will soon be up in lights...if they can find enough bulbs."
  • The Stinger: Right after the credits in the 2005 movie, the "Goodbye" song from the Broadway musical plays. During the song, the cast thanks the audience for watching the movie and tells them to leave. It even has a Creator Cameo from Mel Brooks himself at the very end of the song.
  • Sub-Par Supremacist: Franz Liebkind is a proudly card-carrying NSDAP member and ex-German Army soldier... who lives in a dingy apartment in New York City raising pigeons, drinking schnapps, and writing odes to Hitler's glory, all while living in terror of investigation by the US government. Even his attempted murder of Max and Leo for inadvertently turning Springtime for Hitler into a comedy satirizing Nazi Germany is Played for Laughs because he's so incredibly bad at it.
  • Suddenly Shouting: Leo, prior to getting his confidence, has a tendency to scream without warning.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
    Franz: I was never a member of the Nazi Party! I only followed orders! I had nothing to do with the war! I didn't even know there was a war on! We lived at the back, near Switzerland. All we heard was yodelling...yodel le he hoo! Hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo, Yodelay, Yodelay, Yodelay!
  • Take That!:
    Leo: Actors aren't animals; they're human beings!
    Max: They are, huh? You ever eat with one?
  • Tempting Fate: In the remake, Bialystock tells Bloom, "Nothing is going to come between us." Enter Ulla.
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: "I'm in pain, and I'm wet...and I'm still hysterical!"
  • That's All, Folks!: After the curtain call (or in The Stinger for the film), the entire cast sings "Goodbye" to thank the audience for coming to see their show before telling them to leave.
  • Theatre is True Acting: Played for Laughs in the credits song, "There's Nothing Like a Show on Broadway". Movies and TV are boring, so go to the theater and experience the unique magic of a play or musical...even if it is terribly expensive, uncomfortable, and liable to miscastings and bad audiences.
  • Third-Person Person: Ulla mentions her name instead of using "I" when describing her daily schedule.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Liebkind, as well as Roger's portrayal of Hitler in the musical; it becomes Unintentionally Sympathetic during a slower bit in "Heil Myself".
  • Triumphant Reprise:
    • "I Wanna Be A Producer" returns a few times over the story arc to highlight Leo gradually getting closer to fulfilling his lifelong dream to become a Broadway producer. The final time it plays is when Leo finally earns his producer's hat to celebrate Leo's dream finally coming true.
    • In the Act 1 Finale, nearly every major song up till that point is sung simultaneously as Max and Leo celebrate how close they are to achieving their scheme.
  • Truth in Television: Because homophobia was so virulent in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, it was not uncommon for powerful gay men to "camp it up" and/or "play dumb" around powerful straight men who wanted to work with them as a way to test who would be safe for them to work with and who would end up becoming a potentially lethal problem for them. In this case, Max and Leo pass the test in proving that despite their obvious discomfort they will treat Roger and Carmen with respect (for the most part) and never prove to be a danger to them.
  • Twinkle Smile: Ulla during "That Face".
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: When Bialystock tells Bloom all about his plan to produce a box office bomb. Naturally, it would fail.
  • Unwanted Assistance: invokedMax to Leo at the trial (whose "defense" of Max begins with a list of all of Max's faults) in both movies; Max then says it again to the off-key chorus of old ladies at the trial in the musical remake.
    • Also Max trying to calm Leo down; he responds to being splashed with water and being slapped by adding to his hysteria:
    Leo: I'm hysterical!
    Max: Hold on, I'm coming! I'm coming! Take it easy!
    [Max throws water over him]
    Leo: (several beats) I'M WET! I'M WET! I'M HYSTERICAL AND I'M WET!
    [Max slaps him]
    Leo: (beat) I'm in pain. I'M IN PAIN, I'M WET...AND I'M STILL HYSTERICAL!!
  • Villain Song:
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • In "Betrayed", Max, having read a postcard from Leo, who, on Ulla's urging, ran away to Rio with her and the two million dollars, loses it and angrily sings about being betrayed by his partner in crime.
    • In "Where Did We Go Right?", Max and Leo panic as they discover that their plan to make Springtime for Hitler a massive flop has failed and the musical has become "a surprise smash" instead.
      Max: Oh we knew we couldn't lose...
      Max and Leo: Half the audience were Jews!
      Max: It's the end of our careers!
      Leo: It'll run for 20 years!
      Both: Tell us, where did we go right?!?!
  • Villain Protagonist: Leo and Max are trying to defraud their investors and run a flop so that they can go to Rio. Such a scheme would, if it had worked, hurt a bunch of people in the crossfire such as the actors. The audience roots for the duo nonetheless.
  • Wham Shot: Similar to the original film, the moment when Roger as Hitler poses in a campy fashion is when the stage production takes a complete 180 with the audience, with a few of them chuckling.
  • What Is This Feeling?: It's an erection, Leo.
    • It's either that or Malaria.
    • There are pills for everything these days, so don't worry.
  • What the Hell, Hero?/Even Evil Has Standards: Leo to Max when he is contemplating killing the actors to save their necks:
    Leo: Have you lost your mind? Actors are not animals, they're human beings!
    Max: They are? Have you ever eaten with one?
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Roger DeBris, who is supposed to be in costume as the Grand Duchess Anastasia, to which he claims that he thinks he looks more like "the Chrysler Building."
  • World of Ham: Throughout, though especially prevalent in the post-production scene:
    Max: You! You lousy fruit! You ruined me!
    Carmen: You ungrateful breeder! After he stepped in and saved your little show! I can't— [Max grabs his necklaces and chokes him] MY CHAINS! MY ITALIAN CHAINS! MY CHAINS!
    Max: (cackles with laugher)
  • Zany Scheme: Once Max gets pointed out by Leo that he made a profit of $2,000 due to Funny Boy closing on opening night, Max gets his idea (per the musical):
    Step 1: We find the worst play ever written.
    Step 2: We hire the worst director in town.
    Step 3: We raise two million dollars.
    Leo: Two?!?
    Max: One for me, one for you. There's a lot of little old ladies out there!
    Step 4: We hire the worst actors in New York and open on Broadway and before you can say-
    Step 5: We close on Broadway, take our two million, and go to Rio.

Thanks for coming to read, our friend!
Sad to tell ya', you've reached the end!
Grab your hat and head for the door!
In case ya' didn't notice, there ain't anymore!
If you like our page, tell everyone but,
If you think it stinks, keep your big mouth shut!
We're glad you came but we have to shout, Adios! Au revoir! Wiedersehen! Tatata!
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Alternative Title(s): The Producers 2005


"Heil Myself"

Springtime for Hitler owes its roaring success to Hitler being inadvertently played for laughs.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / AdolfHitlarious

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