The Producers (1968 Film) - Production

Production

I was never crazy about Hitler...If you stand on a soapbox and trade rhetoric with a dictator you never win...That's what they do so well: they seduce people. But if you ridicule them, bring them down with laughter, they can't win. You show how crazy they are.

Mel Brooks, in an August 2001 interview

Mel Brooks wanted to title the film Springtime For Hitler, but Embassy Pictures producer Joseph E. Levine would not let him.

The original screenplay had Franz Liebkind make Max and Leo swear The Siegfried Oath. Accompanied by The Ride of the Valkyries, they promised fealty to Siegfried, Wagner, Nietzsche, Hindenburg, the Graf Spee, the Blue Max, and "Adolf You-Know-Who". The Siegfried Oath was restored in the musical version. In a making-of documentary that accompanied the 2002 DVD release of the film, Brooks says that Dustin Hoffman was originally cast as Liebkind. According to Brooks, late on the night before shooting began, Hoffman begged Brooks to let him out of his commitment to do the role so that he could audition for the starring role in The Graduate. Brooks was aware of the film, which co-starred Brooks' wife, Anne Bancroft, and, skeptical that Hoffman would get the role, agreed to let him audition. When Hoffman did win playing Ben Braddock, Brooks called Kenneth Mars in as Liebkind. Another man he called in was Bill Macy, who played the Jury Forman in a cameo role. Later he played Walter Finlay on the TV show Maude.

The film was shot at the Chelsea Studios in New York City, where the musical version (2005) was also shot. Additional footage included such midtown Manhattan locales as Central Park, the Empire State Building and Lincoln Center.

Writer-director Mel Brooks is heard briefly in the film, his voice dubbed over a dancer singing, "Don't be stupid, be a smarty/Come and join the Nazi Party", in the song Springtime For Hitler. His version of the line is also dubbed into each performance of the musical, as well as the movie version.

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