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(From Guardian Unlimited)
The plot of Mel Brooks's 1968 movie The Producers involves a theatrical impresario deliberately trying to put on a musical that will close as quickly as possible. Because backers will not expect any money back from a notorious flop, the producers hope to run off with all the cash they had raised from a deliberately over-budgeted production.
I once asked a leading West End and Broadway tycoon if such a scam had ever been attempted for real. He insisted it would be impossible for factors that you might expect him to cite -- tight accounting practices, the inherent integrity of the profession -- but also for the more interesting reason that there is no such thing as a surefire flop, as the characters in the film discover.
Their carefully crafted disaster -- the Nazi song-and-dance show Springtime for Hitler -- becomes a must-see. Confirming the difficulty of predicting taste, when Brooks turned his movie into a Broadway musical, it seemed to many a rather …