Blazing Saddles Movie Review

Blazing Saddles isn't the funniest Mel Brooks movie (that'd be The Producers), but it's by far the least politically correct. Oddly, by venturing into new realms of racist humor, Brooks finds comedy gold, because he's mocking a genre (the western) that's chock full of racist content. And Brooks realizes, as do we during the screening of this film, that history has been willing to look the other way if John Wayne is the racist, so why can't a Jew do the same thing?

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.

Comments

Blazing Saddles Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: R, 1974

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