Pros: Funny, entertaining movie.
Cons: Crude and offensive at times. Not for everyone.
Mel Brooks has made several spoof movies during his career. I’ve enjoy all of them that I’ve seen, even the ones that many people don’t consider to be as good. I’ve been adding his movies to my DVD collection and I recently picked up Blazing Saddles, one of his movies considered a classic.
In 1874, quicksand stopped the progress of a new railroad in the old west. Taggart figured out that the railroad would need to be diverted through the small town of Rock Ridge, where everyone had the last name of Johnson. Taggart plotted with State Attorney General Hedley Lamarr to drive the people out of the town so that the land could be bough cheap for the railroad. Taggart sent his men to cause trouble in Rock Ridge.
The people in Rock Ridge weren’t happy about what was going on and decided that they were going to stay and fight for their town. They contacted Governor William J. Lepetomane and demanded that he appoint a new sheriff. Hedley convinced the Governor, who wasn’t that bright, to appoint Bart, a black railroad worker on the verge of being hanged, as the sheriff. Hedley believed that the people of Rock Ridge would be so offended by Bart being made sheriff that they would lynch him or abandon the town. Bart, with the help of Jim, an alcoholic gunfighter also known as the Waco Kid, won over the people of Rock Ridge and came up with a plan to defend the town.
Blazing Saddles was set in 1874 somewhere in the west. Certain aspects of the movie did seem to be typical elements for a western - like how important the railroad was and how someone was trying to take over a small town - while other things were far from typical. The movie was a spoof of western in general that also poked fun at a few other movies as well. The movie worked very well as a spoof and was entertaining. The plot wasn’t complicated and there really weren’t any surprises to what was going on. Some of what happened might be too silly for some viewers.
Blazing Saddles was set after the end of the Civil War, so slavery wasn’t going on but the black characters still weren’t treated that well. Many characters used slang and insults to refer to the black characters and that did include the word that starts with n. I was a bit surprised by how many times that word was used. I honestly don’t remember seeing another movie that has used that word that many times. The movie will probably end up offending some viewers. I really don’t think the movie could be made today. The movie was rated R, mostly for the language. This isn’t a movie for everyone and I don’t think it would be a good pick for children.
There were a lot of funny or silly things going on throughout Blazing Saddles. The characters and situations were twisted just enough to be funny. The humor won’t appeal to everyone, and certain things done to add laughs are bound to offend some people. Several things that happened were silly, but I thought the silliness worked for the movie. There was a little bit of gross humor used, mostly in one scene involving a campfire and men eating beans.
Bart had been working on the railroad and was actually one of the men who found the quicksand. Bart seemed to be more intelligent than the other workers, including the men in charge. He was facing the hangman’s noose when he was named sheriff of Rock Ridge. He was treated horribly at first, but started to win the town over. Cleavon Little was good in the part. Jim was the drunk gunfighter, also known as the Waco Kid, who ended up working with Bart. Jim had a few of his own issues that he was trying to deal with. Gene Wilder was good in the part.
Hedley Lamarr was the corrupt attorney general who was trying to run everyone out of Rock Ridge. People tended to mispronounce his name as Hedy - like the famous actress Hedy Lamarr - so he was always correcting people. Hedley seemed to be only slightly smarter than some of the other character. Harvey Korman did a great job with the part. Mel Brooks turned up in a few short scenes as the Governor and as an Indian Chief. Taggart was basically Hedley’s flunky. Taggart was always doing Hedley’s dirty work, though he also tended to pass certain things off to someone else.
Lili Von Shtupp was female performer who also seemed to be a member of the oldest profession. Hedley sent her to Rock Ridge to try to stir up some trouble with Bart. She was only in a few scenes, so Madeline Kahn didn’t have that much to do. Many of the people around the town were shown without any of them being that developed.
Mel Brooks - Governor William J. Lepetomane/Indian Chief
Madeline Kahn - Lili Von Shtupp
Harvey Korman - Hedley Lamarr
Cleavon Little - Bart
Slim Pickens - Taggart
Gene Wilder - Jim
Mel Brooks - Director
There have been a few different DVD releases of Blazing Saddles. I believe the different versions have had different extras. I have the 30th anniversary special edition. It has the widescreen version of the movie in a new digital transfer. Mel Brooks did a scene specific commentary that I haven’t listened to yet. Back in the Saddle featured some of the cast and Brooks talking about making the movie. Brooks talked about how he originally wanted to cast Richard Pryor as Bart, but the studio wouldn’t agree. Pryor did end up working as one of the writers. An exert from Intimate Portrait: Madeline Kahn was also included that shared things related to her appearance in this movie. There were a few additional scenes and the trailer for a proposed television series spin off that never went any further as well. I did think the extras were interesting.
Blazing Saddles was a very funny movie thought it could offend some viewers. People that have enjoyed other Mel Brooks movies may also like this one.
I would have rated this one four and a half stars if I had the option. Since I don't, I decided to round up to 5.