Broadway baron Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) is already an expert at bilking old ladies, but it takes his new partner, numbers whiz Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder, pictured here standing behind Mostel), to come up with a truly grand scam: get investors to pony up for a guaranteed flop, then pocket the money when the show closes after one night. Sure, the idea backfires spectacularly, with Springtime for Hitler becoming a camp hit that has Bialystock’s little old ladies demanding returns on their investment, but for a while, at least, the milquetoasty Bloom gets to live out his dream of being a glamorous Broadway producer.
Besides, we bet there have been more than a few real Broadway bigwigs over the last 45 years who’ve wondered if Bloom’s scheme from the 1968 movie might actually work, given a properly awful play. (Yes, we know there was a 2005 movie version, with the polished Matthew Broderick reprising his Broadway role as Bloom, but for sheer manic desperation channeled into brief glory, we’ll go with goggle-eyed, electric-haired Gene Wilder in the original.)
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