Never give a saga an even break. That’s the tagline, and could as easily be Mel Brooks’ motto. He never has and certainly didn’t in 1974 with a western spoof breaking more ground than they did to build the railroads. The entire genre of Hollywood westerns gets the treatment in typical Brooks fashion. If there’s one film serving as the basis, the foundation, it has to be 1952’s High Noon starring Gary Cooper. A sheriff with a posse of outlaws after him, complete with a catchy tune during the opening credits. There’s a few original songs here and Brooks either wrote the lyrics or the entire thing. Blazing Saddles is a true comedy classic worthy of the label.
If you don’t know, the whole basis of Blazing Saddles revolves around a black sheriff going to save a small western town. If you’re a sensitive soul and easily offended, you don’t need to watch. There’s lots of “racist” jokes and many uses of the “N-Word.” It’s alright. Calm yourselves. Richard Pryor was on the writing team and does indeed get his name in the opening credits. In typical Brooks fashion, he inserts plenty of sexual innuendo, a Jewish bit or two, and there’s even some marijuana use. Hey, its 1974 after all. There’s also one of the most famous scenes in film history. The use of an audible fart track, with loud sounds makes its film debut. Burton Gilliam (Lyle) is the first person to fart in a film.
Cleavon Little plays the heroic black sheriff against the odds. If the name doesn’t sound familiar, don’t worry. Blazing Saddles is his 15 minutes of fame. Slim Pickens is on hand, complete with his unmistakable voice and signature wacky sayings. Former Detroit Lions defensive star Alex Karras is the simple-minded Mongo. A special mention to David Huddleston, perhaps best known as “The Jeffrey Lebowski”, not “The Dude.” What would a Mel Brooks film be without a few familiar faces in the cast? Gene Wilder. Harvey Korman. Madeline Kahn. Dom DeLuise. Robert Ridgely as the hangman, a role he’d revise in Brooks’ Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Brooks himself pulls double duty in a large role, and a bit performance, and is in line to sign up for the outlaw gang. The legendary Count Basie and his band make a special cameo appearance.
I’m a big Mel Brooks fan. Blazing Saddles is one of my all-time favorite films. I fell in love the first time I watched it, and I’ve owned it on VHS, DVD, and now Blu-Ray. I give it a perfect score. If you’re not easily offended and want to watch a hilarious film rich in film history and more important, laughs, give Blazing Saddles a shot.
Copyright © Drew Martin 2017