Saddles starts out both funny and inappropriate from frame one, with Burton Gilliam's chastisement of an Asian railroad worker who's passed out on the construction line: "Dock that chink a day's pay for nappin' on the job!" And that railroad actually has something to do with the movie: Evil governor (Mel Brooks) and his cornies (led by Harvey Korman) want to build a railroad to get rich. There's a town in the way, though, and they residents won't sell, so Lamarr appoints a black sheriff (Cleavon Little) to convince the redneck residents to leave voluntarily.
Things get progressively stranger and the humor is hit and miss until the slam-bang finale, one of the most daring 15 minutes in cinema history. The town of Rock Ridge finds itself engaged in a wholesale war with its oppressors, which subsequently spills over into the Warner Bros. studio lot and the set of another movie, the parking lot, and Hollywood as a whole. Korman escapes in a taxi cab as our heroes catch the ending of the film at Mann's Chinese Theater.
Again, stretches of Blazing Saddles don't quite measure up to its high points, but that's a truly high bar to reach. Fans will absolutely have to buy the newly released DVD, which includes enlightening commentary from Mel Brooks (who recalls every meal he ate during the planning of the film). There's also deleted scenes, a documentary about the late Madeline Kahn, and a real gem: the TV pilot for Black Bart, a show based on Saddles starring Louis Gossett Jr.
Saddles afire indeed.
Run time: 93 mins
In Theaters: Thursday 7th February 1974
Box Office Worldwide: $119.5M
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Production compaines: Warner Bros. Pictures, Crossbow Productions
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Fresh: 44 Rotten: 5
IMDB: 7.8 / 10
Director: Mel Brooks
Producer: Michael Hertzberg
Starring: Cleavon Little as Sheriff Bart, Gene Wilder as Jim, aka "The Waco Kid", Mel Brooks as Gov. William J. Le Petomane / Indian Chief, Madeline Kahn as Lili Von Shtüpp, the Teutonic Titwillow, Slim Pickens as Taggart, Harvey Korman as Hedley Lamarr, Burton Gilliam as Lyle, Alex Karras as Mongo, David Huddleston as Olson Johnson, Liam Dunn as Rev. Johnson, John Hillerman as Howard Johnson, George Furth as Van Johnson, Carol Arthur as Harriett Johnson, Richard Collier as Dr. Sam Johnson, Charles McGregor as Charlie, Don Megowan as Gum Chewer, Dom DeLuise as Buddy Bizarre, Count Basie as Himself, Karl Lukas as Cutthroat #1, Robyn Hilton as Miss Stein, Jack Starrett as Gabby Johnson
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