I'm not a devoted Mel Brooks fan. I loved Young Frankenstein when I was a kid -- I still enjoy it, although the pacing seems slow by today's standards. Robin Hood: Men in Tights is amusing, but the movie contains an awful lot of groaners. And if memory serves, I think I actually walked out of Spaceballs.
But all of that disappointment is easily forgiven when I think of Mel Brooks' The Producers, not just the film, but the 2001 Broadway musical staring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. The schemes of a desperate producer and his blanket-wielding accountant make for one of the funniest musicals ever written. During the past couple years The Producers has been picked up by regional and community theaters. having just watched a recent production at my local playhouse, I was pleased to find that the material holds up phenomenally well. You don't need movie stars for Mel Brooks material to work -- though it does help if the cast is talented and the crew is capable of a high production value. (After all, it's not easy to build Bavarian pretzel costumes, goose-stepping pigeon puppets, and twirling swastikas).
What I love best about The Producers is the way Mel Brooks makes us laugh at history's most tremendous idiot, Adolph Hitler. During the brilliant production number, "Springtime for Hitler" Brooks uses comedy to reveal the moronic stupidity of the Third Reich.
There is a very enjoyable musical-film version of The Producers, but if you get the chance, by all means, see this show live!