The original 1968 film version of The Producers makes its Blu-ray debut today, and it’s as funny, outrageous, and tasteless as it was 45 years ago. But while we all know it was Mel Brooks’ feature filmmaking debut and the basis for the Broadway smash, most have forgotten that it also won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay — a shockingly contrary prize from a body that doesn’t tend to hand out statues to comedies, and has thus created a general perception of an “Oscar movie” (i.e., serious drama, preferably with a message of stern social commentary; a period setting and/or a physically or mentally challenged character never hurts). But here are a few movies that fly in the face of that notion.
Best Original Screenplay, 1968
Mel Brooks famously responded to the charges that his film was vulgar thus: “my film rises below vulgarity.” But it is hard to comprehend exactly how shocking this win must’ve been back in ’68 (particularly since it was up against such serious fare as 2001, Faces, and The Battle of Algiers); it would be like There’s Something About Mary taking Best Screenplay 30 years later, but only if The Producers had never been made and there’d never been a movie quite as vulgar as Mary.