Max Bialystock, a seedy, disreputable, has-been Broadway producer, ekes out a living by charming love-starved elderly ladies into investing in his disastrous productions. One day, a timorous and neurotic accountant, Leo Bloom, arrives at Max's office to check the books on his latest theatrical fiasco. Max pressures Leo to analyze his ledger books in less than a minute, prompting Leo to panic and rub a blue baby blanket on his face, admitting that he has a minor compulsion surrounding the blanket. When Leo finds a $2,000 difference in the books and naively mentions that a producer could make a lot of money by finding a sure-fire failure, over-financing it, and pocketing the remainder of the investors' money after the show closes, Max becomes excited. He cons the reluctant Leo into becoming his partner in producing the worst play in theatrical history, fantasizing that they will run away with the stolen money to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After rejecting hundreds of manuscripts, they finally find the ideal script in Springtime for Hitler, a musical comedy about Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun romping in Berchtesgaden. The play is written by Franz Liebkind, an unregenerate Nazi who keeps pigeons and staunchly maintains that Hitler was "a swell guy with a song in his heart." After oversubscribing by 25,000 percent, Max and Leo insure disaster by hiring Roger De Bris, a flamboyant, homosexual man generally regarded as the world's worst director, to stage their play, and Lorenzo “LSD” St. Du Bois, a spaced-out hippie, to play “Adolf Hitler.” Max also hires Ulla, a beautiful Swedish woman, to be their receptionist. On opening night, they add a final touch to their scheme by wrapping a one-hundred dollar bribe around the ticket of a New York Times drama critic. However, the play and production are so unremittingly awful that the audience interprets it as satire and roars with approval. Stunned to discover they are stuck with a box-office success, Max, Leo, and Liebkind frantically try to close their show, even to the point of blowing up the theater. Apprehended and sent to jail after a trial in which they are found "incredibly guilty," they soon revert to their former tactics by producing a prison show called Prisoners of Love and selling shares, well over one-hundred percent, to their fellow inmates and the warden.