October 7th, 2007

Admit One

nothing portentous or polite

TCM last night ran a three-film set featuring Zero Mostel. First was The Producers, which I've seen a zillion times and could see a zillion times more because I absolutely adore it. Mostel and Gene Wilder are perfect together, even though they both play patently manic characters: Zero's Bialystock is right upfront with his mania, but Gene Wilder, as zhym mentioned a few entries ago, plays a character desperately struggling -- and usually failing -- to repress his mania, a character type he was always so very good at. (In the musical version, Bloom's toned down almost to the point of milquetoastness in order to provide more contrast between the two leads, make him the earnest, sympathetic character, and give him the love interest. Still, he's got his neuroses, and they do send him batty from time to time.)

And while I recognize Dick Shawn's hippie character was a product of its time and embarassingly so (the "Love Flower" audition song brings the movie to a halt and is all the more stilted once you realize that Shawn's three-piece go-go girl combo seems to be playing more instruments than they have) he pulls off one of the best Hitler lines ever: "Oh, but I liebst ya, baby, I liebst ya!" He's not missed in the musical versions, but I do enjoy his sly character bits (wearing a Campbell's soup can on a necklace) over the completely unsubtle ones ("The name's Lorenzo St. DuBois, but everybody calls me LSD") which no doubt gave Brooks considerable chagrin later on.

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