47 Comments

  1. Wi-Fi passwords are something that people talk about now.

    According to the “Writing Cartoons by Rote and Trope” making a reference to modern use of social media in a context that it didn’t occur originally is hilarious.

    There was no mention of wi-fi in the original Graduate movie.

  2. The humor in this panel is better than average for Wi-Fi jokes. The comic “surprise” is that he’s more interested in getting into her network than into her.

  3. I actually thought this was chuckleworthy, but like in so many of the cases where Bill asks where the “actual joke” is, I don’t know that there’s anything to explain. Either you like it or you don’t.

    Some people are so obsessed with getting their phone back on the Intertubes that they immediately want the Wi-Fi password upon getting to someone’s house. In the movie, Benjamin is socially awkward, and not unsure how to handle the situation. Here, he’s reimagined as being so focused on getting the Wi-Fi password that he’s doesn’t even get to the point of awkwardly dealing with the attempted seduction – he’s just thinking about the Wi-Fi password. It’s not just that the original movie didn’t have Wi-Fi – it’s that his response is somehow consistent with Benjamin’s character in the movie, but also not quite right. I found the contrast and juxtaposition amusing. YMMV, and obviously does.

  4. She was played by Anne Bancroft, who besides being beautiful was only a few years older than Dustin Hoffman. I suspect there was a conscious effort to minimize the creepy for box office reasons (titillation sells; eww usually doesn’t) as well as story reasons (keeping the focus on other issues; not making the hero look creepy for entering into the affair).

    Similar thinking in “Desperate Housewives”: When a married lady had an affair with a teenaged boy, the lady was played by Eva Longoria — petite and not looking far from high school herself. The actor originally cast as the boy looked like a teen; they got nervous and recast the part with an actor who was clearly college age at least.

  5. When I saw the film, I was just a couple of years younger than Benjamin’s character, which should have put me in the perfect demographic to find her appealing. I thought of her the way I would one of Disney’s evil queens.

    I thought it spoke well of Anne Bancroft that she would play the part so non-glamorously.

  6. Until I aged out of it, I used to have a preference for older woman, but never thought Mrs. Robinson was anything but bad.

  7. Of course, Mrs. Robinson isn’t supposed to be sympathetic. She’s extremely controlling. Her seduction of Benjamin is done entirely to prevent him from getting together with her daughter and preventing Elaine from marrying the guy Mrs. Robinson chose for her.

    Dustin Hoffman was signed on to be in The Producers (as the Nazi) when he was offered an audition for The Graduate. He begged Mel Brooks to let him go to the audition and Brooks agreed because he didn’t think Hoffman would get the role. When he did and had to as Brooks to let him quit right before shooting was scheduled to start, Mel told him, “I hear you want to quit my picture so you can make love to my wife.”

  8. The actual Nazi, Liebkind. He was replaced by Kenneth Mars, who was originally going to play De Bris,the director.

  9. @ Bill – The “Nazi” was the helmeted, motorcycle riding playwright who was selected only because his script was so unbelievably awful that the production would be destined to fail.

  10. I never noticed the resemblance while watching either movie, but seeing the name here reminded me that Mars also played the role of the wooden-armed police officer in “Young Frankenstein“.

  11. @DemetriosX: But did Hoffman LOOK old enough to have been a former Nazi? He was (as previously discussed) roughly Anne Bancoft’s age, but he was playing somebody a generation younger.

  12. @CIDU Bill: But did Hoffman LOOK old enough to have been a former Nazi?
    **************
    I don’t think the Nazi character in THE PRODUCERS was supposed to be a WWII left-over; just a contemporary Nazi lifestyle wannabe. Plenty of those still around, many younger now than Dustin Hoffman was then.

  13. Pretty sure he was supposed to be a former Nazi: when B&B met him, the first thing he blurted out was “I was never a member of the Nazi Party,” which of course only a former member of the Nazi Party would say.

  14. Singapore Bill – I’ve never seen the movie, and never intend to. That says more about my taste in movies than my age, though. And I certainly know the basic outline of the plot – though I wouldn’t have recognized the scene without the cross-reference here.

  15. I suppose they could have made Hoffman look a little older with makeup. He was always a bit baby-faced. (I was surprised to see that he’s actually a couple of years older than my parents. I would have sworn he was younger.) As for the age difference between him and Anne Bancroft, it’s greater than the difference between Angela Lansbury and Laurence Harvey, who played mother and son in The Manchurian Candidate.

  16. A synchronicity for me: I was surfing thru YouTube last night when I came across this . . .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7BLrVTouG8 (be aware, as I wasn’t at first, that the song from ‘The Producers’ is from the Broadway play (specially written by Mel Brooks, I assume), NOT from the movie.

    And that elegant couple sitting next to Mel Brooks . . . how lovely to see them enjoying themselves, understanding the history and context AND the humor. (Yes, I know – single noun, plural pronouns, but anything else sounds . . . forced.)

    QUESTION: In light of recent events , is ‘The Producers’ still funny? Or, instead, prophetic?

  17. @ Andréa – I think the movie is still quite funny, even if weaknesses and anachronisms are starting to take their toll. The fundamental problem is that “time does not necessarily wound all heels“. In other words, the play within the play (or movie) was in unbelievably horrible taste when the script was completed (just 20 years after the end of WWII), but the crassness of that unpalatableness is beginning to wear off, given how often Nazi symbolism has been used for humorous and/or political purposes in the subsequent half-century.

  18. Kilby, I think Andrea means specifically now that Nazis are now an actual threat again.

    Springtime For Hitler is unpalatable for a different reason than it was in 1967.

  19. Exactly. I did notice whilst going thru YouTube a German version of “Springtime for Hitler’, the Broadway play. Something seems discordant about that.

    BTW, ‘Springtime for Hitler’ is an earworm for me that just. won’t. go. away.

    And lest anyone think that I’m insensitive, my parents were in Amsterdam during WWII; my father was incarcertaed in and escaped from three slave labor camps. I was born in1948, and we emigrated to USA in 1954.

  20. The Producers was made in 1967, 22 years after the end of WWII. 9/11 was in 2001, so in just 5 years we should be ready for a remake of The Producers that has a humorously bad play about 9/11. I can imagine how well that would go over.

  21. I sometimes wonder if we’ve ‘accepted’ ‘The Producers’ because Mel Brooks is Jewish. If a gentile had written/produced it, would it have been seen as anti-Semitic and disappeared? We’ll never know.

  22. @ Andréa – As it happens, I have not (yet) seen the movie in English (I’m about to order the DVD).
    The ARD (Channel 1) network broadcast it (years ago) on German (public) television, and I recorded it (because it didn’t start until shortly after midnight). It was slightly frustrating not to be able to hear the original voices of Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder, but the “play within the movie” was not synchronized: they left that part in English.

  23. I think the “discordant” effect was intentional. Harald Schmidt is/was a fairly clever moderator (“with a complexion like that, he’s got to be good“). He’s been compared to Letterman, possibly because he borrowed some features from Late Night, but the comparison is nevertheless justifiable.
    This clip (circa 2008) is not the only time Schmidt has taken a serious dig at the far right. The “pretzel” armbands were a brilliant stategic move. Schmidt might have gotten in trouble if he had used a swastika(*), but the comment about the natural (brown) color of the pretzels made it clear that they were meant as a political comment, not just random Germanic humor.
    P.S. Displaying Nazi symbols and paraphernalia is illegal in Germany, unless it is clearly part of a historic (or in this case satiric) context. It’s worth noting that in this production, the song mentions the “Nazi salute”, but the choreographer carefully omitted showing one here on TV.

  24. Hitler himself wasn’t shown in this segment, either, unless the singer w/o a mustache was supposed to be him? It seems to me that the Broadway play differs quite a bit from the movie, but considering the number of years between them, that’s probably logical.

  25. I thought I was old, but you all (mostly) must be ancient. I was but a young stripling, lithe of form and fair of face, when The Graduate hit the silver screen.
    On the other hand: “Elaine! Elaine!”

  26. @ Andréa – The man without the mustache is not “the” Hitler, he’s more like a narrator (the German lyrics make it clear that he’s talking about someone else). As for your earlier question (“In light of recent events, is ‘The Producers’ still funny? Or, instead, prophetic?“), today’s “Non Sequitur” offers a depressing answer:

  27. @ Andréa – Oh, he could certainly write it, the question is whether anyone would be willing to produce such a piece (without that impressive 50-year pedigree). The same question goes for “Blazing Saddles“, which I thought was hilarious when it was first released, and is still very funny (and just as relevant) today.
    One of the most successful German movies ever made was Michael “Bully” Herbig’s “Der Schuh des Manitu“, which was exceedingly irreverent in poking fun at all sorts of racial and homosexual stereotypes. On the extended DVD, Herbig included a 13-minute preview clip in English (most of the actors even did their own translated voices). Supposedly, the idea was to shop the film around to Hollywood studios, in the hope of finding someone who might be interesting in releasing a translated version of the whole movie, or perhaps re-filming it in English.
    That clip was fun for me to watch, but I’m sure that the idea must have gone over like a lead balloon. There is no way that anyone could sell that script in today’s America. Right wingnuts would be offended about it encoraging moral terpitude, and the left wingnuts would decry it’s insensitivity to racial/sexual harmony. In other words, it was D.O.A. from the start, no matter how many millions of German viewers loved it (then as now).

  28. ” Oh, he could certainly write it, the question is whether anyone would be willing to produce such a piece ” . . . that’s what I meant but wasn’t clear. I agree ’bout ‘Blazing Saddles’. (Ever realize how many of Mel Brooks’ ensemble have died . . . some too young, like Madeline Kahn and Cleanon Little . . . then there’s Gene Wilder, Harvey Korman, Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle, Kenneth Mars, et al.)

  29. The Producers was made in 1967, 22 years after the end of WWII. 9/11 was in 2001, so in just 5 years we should be ready for a remake of The Producers that has a humorously bad play about 9/11.

    A humorously bad play about al Qaeda (maybe not specifically about 9/11) might actually work. But the timing might now be right yet, since 9/11 was not exactly the end of the “war.”

  30. Anne Bancroft was 6 years older than Dustin Hoffman.

    Originally his character’s was the same as Robert Redford and they changed it as they decided they wanted him.

    Gee both movies – The Graduate and The Producers both came out the same year. Odd. My parents would not take me to see the The Producers as I was “too young and would not understand the jokes” , but I could swear that Robert took me to see The Graduate when it came out and that would have been at least 6 years later. I guess I am remembering when we saw the later wrong – I do know that we saw The Producers when it must have been in rerelease as we saw it in college with “the crew”.

  31. Okay – I realized that we saw the Producers later than I think – I was already working in accounting. Why did I remember this?

    When I saw the movie the first time I was practically rolling on the floor of the movie theater laughing. The scene where Gene Wilder first comes in to “do the books” is sooooo close to going to my clients – they have never said they had a cardboard belt, but everything is always too expensive and “how can the income be that high” sort of thing.

    Next week I will go the business client I still have (other than husband and hear about how she needs to have a loss.

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