The Brent U3A term has started. Another member of the group has taken over the monthly programming. The Lexi still advertise the afternoon sessions as “Hidden Gems” as if Senior Matinees would deter some viewers. To be fair when they advertised as the U3A film matinees, people thought that the screenings were not open to the public.
The first film was The Producers (1968). An appreciative audience mainly of our U3A members. Somehow the Lexi does not seem to attract the local older audience.
In this outrageously over the top satire of show biz, no one escapes. The funders, producers, directors, actors, gays, old women, and of course Hitler and the Nazis and the musical form. The investors, in this case are rich old ladies in search of sexual excitement and games. The producer Bialystock (Zero Mostel, in a hilarious performance) complies with their demands for a cash return.
The title sequences are intercut with funny scenes of Bialystock playing flirting games with ‘Hold Me Touch Me’ (Estelle Winwood) and finally obtaining the precious cheque. Winwood is amazing in the energy she deploys in acting in these romps. She was 85 at the time. She did not like the film: “Oh, that dreadful picture. I can’t bear to watch it, even on a small television. I must have needed the money – living in Hollywood weakens one’s motives. It reminds me of the saying that nobody ever went broke underestimating the American public’s taste”. This great actor had played middle class Mabel in the British film Alive and Kicking (1964) without a trace of American accent.
There are in the introduction of the film other very brief scenes of the producer with old rich women to show Bialystock’s fund-raising strategies. Deafness, senility, insecurity, delusions of youth, in the old women, nothing escapes Mel Brooks’s satirical scalpel. The title sequences and the old women investors clips can be seen on You Tube. Also available on You Tube is the dance of The Old Ladies with Zimmer frames in the 2005 remake of the film. A film I will not rush to see.
An interesting detail: The cinematic image of the motorcycle signifying youth and liberation is made fun of in The Producers but taken oh so seriously in The Marigold Hotel . (Please let me know if you have come across other pairing of an old lady and a motorcycle)