Monday, January 16, 2006

Geoff Collins Revisits The Producers - and Says "What If?"

Further to my earlier ramblings on the subject, I feel the movie version of The Producers is such an excellent Broadway-to-Hollywood transfer that it would have been entirely at home in that early-talkie period when Hollywood was raiding the New York stage for something - anything - to turn into a movie musical. So here's a "What If". Please feel free to contribute to this.

Of course, in the late twenties, the hoped-for flop would have to be Springtime For Hindenburg.

What if The Producers had been a Broadway show in 1928, and a movie in 1930? Who would play Max and Leo? And to get you started, here are a few combinations to consider.

RKO Radio's version; Max : Robert Woolsey. Leo: Bert Wheeler. Now there's a controversial choice - but think about it; a good combination of brashness and innocence. It wouldn't be wonderful, but it would be funny and efficient.

Hal Roach's version; Max: Oliver Hardy. Leo: Stan Laurel. Now that would be sublime, but the movie would be five hours long. Forget it. How about...

Educational's version; Max: Joe Cook. Leo: Harry Langdon. Oh, for a time machine! Here's an even better one - and God knows which studio would put this out...

Max: Bobby Clark!! Leo: Eddie Cantor!!! Of course, to accomodate Paul McCullough there would have to be three Producers : Bialystock, Bloom and Blodgett.

Paramount's version; Max: W.C. Fields. Leo: Jack Haley. And it would have to be directed by Eddie Cline to become a cherished loopy classic.

Warner Bros.' version; Max : Ned Sparks (God help us!!!) ; Leo: Joe E. Brown, borrowing Bert Lahr's mannerisms (as usual).

Another, later RKO version; Max: Leon Errol. Leo: Fred Astaire. And (it goes without saying) Ginger Rogers as Ulla - recycling her Lyda Roberti accent from Roberta. Oh, and while we're still at RKO, how about the supporting cast? My personal choices: Edward Everett Horton as Roger DeBris; and Eric Blore as Carmen Ghia. (Paramount would use Franklin Pangborn).

And finally, the MGM version ("More Stars Than There Are In Heaven") [pause for an intake of breath]; Max: Ted Healy. Leo: Buster Keaton.

(Look, I know Speak Easily is very enjoyable, readers, but I just didn't have the heart to cast Jimmy Durante as Max; I just couldn't do it.)

Supporting cast: Greta Garbo as Ulla. El Brendel as her brother. Whaaattt?

Okay, that's enough. The van's arrived. The men in white coats are here. Take me awaaayyy....

Readers: over to you. Improve on this!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry...but there are only two players who would've topped any of the actual cast members of both filmed versions, Phil Silvers as Max, and for Leo I would have cast Danny Kaye. The film would have been shot in 1948 by Fox.

Just my opinion....Nick Santa Maria

9:43 AM  

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