04.19.07 -- DEJA VU all over again!

Thursday, April 19, 2007
I’ve done this puzzle before -- Lord knows how long ago, but it's at least ten years because The Producers had not yet become a Broadway musical! The crossword I recall was dedicated entirely to the original film http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Producers_(1968_film) with ZEROMOSTEL (27D) as BIALYSTOCK (48A) and Gene Wilder as BLOOM (36A) who were the PRODUCERS (38A) of an investor’s scam titled "SPRINGTIME (20A) FORHITLER ( 32A): A Gay Romp With Eva and Adolph at Berchtesgaden". NATHANLANE (11D) was no where to be seen, and just as well, as his performance as Bialystock was a shadow of the character as played by Mostel. For further information on the Broadway production see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Producers_%28musical%29
The upper right corner of this puzzle had to reworked from the original to allow Nathan Lane’s name to replace GENEWILDER. As far as the remainder of the “fill” for the puzzle, I see no other changes except perhaps the additional of DEPP. I liked the cluing for the answers SOONERS, BRAS, SASS, OPIUM, OHM, EGGS, AGES and KNEE.
So perfect and clear -- ZERO MOSTEL as BIALYSTOCK and GENEWILDER as BLOOM as the PRODUCERS of SPRINGTIME FORHITLER. Replacing Wilder with Lane has compromised this puzzle from the original, which was a beauty! At the time, I recall a lively argument as to whether the name of Hitler should be allowed in a New York Times crossword puzzle -- my stance was “It’s not a four-letter word” -- I’ll spare you the remainder of the incident!
Note the timing of this puzzle's appearance. The Producers opened on Broadway April 19, 2001 and is scheduled to close this Sunday, April 23, 2007. Adolph Hitler was born and died in the Spring -- April 20, 1889 -- April 30, 1945. http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/unser35.htm

In 1933 Al Hirschfeld drew a caricature of Adolph Hitler entitled "Politico-Erotica"
http://www.bpib.com/illustrat/hirschfe.htm. This caricature originally appeared in a satirical magazine that Hirschfeld published with fellow artist, Alexander King. Not only is it "an early attack on Hitler," as Hirschfeld noted, but it is also very precognitive of "Springtime for Hitler" as seen in the Mel Brooks 1968 film of The Producers.
Thirty-five years later, Hirschfeld drew a caricature of Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder in the film of The Producers, and sixty-seven years after "Politico-Erotica" he drew a caricature for the musical of The Producers (with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick). Two years following, Al Hirschfeld passed away at the age of ninety-nine. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Hirschfeld
Remake upon remake upon remake and now, we have a remake of the puzzle! To quote Yogi Berra, “It’s déjà vu all over again”!
Al Hirschfeld Illustrations: Above: Politico Erotica, 1933. Below: The Producers (Broadway musical with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick) and The Producers (1968 film with Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder).


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the links and pics, this blog is really cool.

Norrin2 said...

Do you know if Henry Hook did the original puzzle?

DONALD said...


One cannot know for sure as by-lines were added by Shortz to the daily puzzles only fourteen years ago. Hook began constructing crosswords in 1969 at age 14. That leaves a period of 24 years that Hook contributed to the New York Times without a by-line.