Tuesday, 4 July 2017

When Worlds Collide (Mel Brooks vs. Agatha Christie)

    The idea for this blog has been simmering for a bit. I've hinted at it in other posts, I think, or at least a couple of photoscape projects. So now, it's time to take this bizarre story to the masses.
Poirot and David Suchet
   The post might not get any response, or, it could be greeted by a few pleas of, "Get help, lady!"   And , perhaps I should.  I already feel like an idiot; wasting so much time with a character his creator didn't care for. And yet, I like Poirot. An odd duck but genuinely endearing.  Having never read any Agatha Christie novels, I attribute that endearing quality, for the most part, to the research and heart effort of the actor who brought Poirot to the small screen, after first hearing radio dramas of Poirot on BBC 4 with actor John Moffatt.

    I liked those radio adaptations but then I wanted to see the character I was only hearing.  I wish I could remember the first Poirot episode I saw. No matter, I guess. I liked him.  He was eccentric and compulsively orderly and tidy. Okay. ๐Ÿคท Odd, but hardly problematic. When you consider the atrocities committed against countries by leaders, or against children by parents, etc, I would hardly consider Poirot's oddities a real issue. And David Suchet gave this eccentric character more than characteristics. David invested time, research and gave Poirot the heart that the Belgian detective's apathetic creator didn't know or care to acknowledge he even had;  referring to Poirot with disparaging adjectives like 'Detestable' and 'Egotistic' , and, adding injury to insult, Agatha ended Poirot's story by having her detective buried in the back yard of Styles Court, like a stray cat, found dead on the highway.  Nice.  Or NOT.
  Now, compare the woeful treatment Poirot received from his creator, to the environment in a studio while recording  the soundtrack of the the Broadway hit, The Producers. 
https://youtu.be/3LxM3f0c8zg. Not just ANY song, though!  They were all good songs, but 'Heil Myself'  had particular significance just because of the subject of said song and the paradoxical joy Gary Beach took in performing it even in a recording booth.   The song was written by Mel Brooks for, to all intents and purposes, Hitler.  The Hitler of Franz Liebkind's play,  'Springtime for Hitler' .
    If you're not familiar with the premise of The Producers,  former big name Broadway producer, Max Bialystock (Nathan Lane) and introverted accountant, Leo Bloom (Matthew Broderick) launch upon a plan to embezzle money by sinking raised funds for a Broadway show into the worst production ever written.  Now I'm not going to go into the financial aspect of it because it confuses me silly. Long story short; they find what they believe to be a sure-fire insult, guaranteed-to-close-in-one- night FLOP! And what could be more offensive to decent, well-dressed theater-going folk, not ten years after the end of WW2, than a show, where the star is one of one of history's TRULY DETESTABLE  despots, Adolf Hitler.
Gary Beach is a funny fuhrer 
   And therein lies the hilarious twist.  Surely such a monster isn't entitled to a song,  let alone something so upbeat and self-affirming.  Aye, but that's the beauty of Mel Brooks' unique brand of insanity.  Instead of exhausting dictionaries for negative superlatives to  describe the atrocities of the Third Reich,  Mel played to ze Fuhrer's megalomania,  in order to show people how utterly FULL of HIMSELF Hitler truly was;  allowing ze fuhrer to sing his own praises.  And Gary Beach (as Roger E. Debris as Hitler ) rose to the occasion.  
   Such was the over-the-top, theatrically-facetious joy Mel took in his endeavor that even his intended target joined in on the musical merriment of having his own head handed to him.


      Mel Brooks is Jewish.  To say the  VERY  LEAST, Hitler was NO friend of the Jewish people. (Ya think!?)  So why did Mel get more enjoyment out of writing for an historic despot than Agatha Christie had,  creating a dearly eccentric Belgian detective?
    If I have this right,  Agatha Christie lived through TWO world wars.  Gross inhumanity foisted ON humanity by humanity. And yet, for all the destruction and blood letting carried out in those wars,  Agatha Christie's big aggravation in life was a compulsively tidy detective of her own creating?!?!

 Solve THAT mystery and you will be a detective to topple Poirot, himself.