that set the tone for all Mel Brooks
Movies to come. Blazing Saddles is a farce
of popular western pictures, featuring the misadventures of an African-American as sheriff
of the small frontier (all white) town of Rock Ridge.
At the time when Mel Brooks was handed the screenplay he was rather poor and living in Manhattan. He had directed two previous films, The Producers
and The Twelve Chairs
. The commercial success of Blazing Saddles would lock Mel brooks into cinematic history.
The screenplay, originally penned by Andrew Bergman, was heavily rewritten by Brooks and his friend, comedian Richard Pryor
, who had originally been slated to play the lead. Due to the controversial nature of Pryor's stand up Mel Brooks scouted
for an alternate star and found a perfect fit with Cleavon Little
. The movie went through many title changes, including "Black Bart" and "Tex X" but studios disliked those as they did not want this comedy mistaken for a Blaxploitation
The film also featured many actors and actresses who would become regular players in many of Mel Brooks' comedies, Including Harvey Korman
, Gene Wilder
, Madeline Kahn
and Dom DeLuise
. One genius bit of casting was that of Slim Pickens
in the roll of Taggart, the foreman of the railroad workers.
Blazing saddles is one of those timeless comedy movies that I will never get tired of. Some people might need to loosen their "Politically Correct Screw" a bit in order to enjoy it as the word "nigger
" is used more than in most modern gangsta-rap. The film, however, never loses its light heart. The charm and charisma
of Cleavon Little bring to the screen a sheriff that no one could hate, and keep our sympathies with him when he is besieged by the bigotry
of Rock Ridge's inhabitants, and cheer with him as he triumphs over adversity. Memorable moments in the film include Madeline Kahn as the sultry performer Lili Von Schtupp, whose musical performance is enough to crack a smile into the most stoic
face, Slim Pickens as the overbearing Taggart who plays his part with unrivaled comic timing, and the appearance of Mel Brooks as a Yiddish
speaking Indian chief. Another performace that should not be overlooked is that of Gene Wilder as the burnt-out gunslinger "The Waco Kid". Wilder's childlike innocence
and wistful speaking voice bring a charm to the role that would easily have been overshadowed by some of the over-the-top performances in the show had it been played by some other actor. Rounding out the cast is Harvey Korman as the treacherous Hedley Lamarr, a character which is equally as easy to hate as he is to laugh at. It is easy to see how this film set the stage for other great Mel Brooks Comedies, including Young Frankenstein
and A Complete History of the World, Part 1
(Which complete the trilogy of films before Brooks began his downward spiral hitting rock bottom with Dracula, Dead and Loving it
Some Memorable Quotes
"Oh, baby, you're so talented... and they are so dumb!"
"Excuse me while I whip this out"
"Where all the white women at?"
- Cleavon Little as Black Bart
Here I stand, the goddess of desire
Set men on fire
I have this power.
Morning, noon, and night, it's dwink and dancing
Some quick womancing
And then a shower.
Stage door Johnnies constantly suwwound me
They always hound me, with one wequest.
Who can satisfy their lustful habits?
I'm not a wabbit!
I need some west.
- Madeline Kahn as Lili Von Schtupp
"I must have killed more men than Cecil B. DeMille."
"You've got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay
of the new West. You know... morons
"Then one day I hear "Reach for it mister!" I spun around, and there I was standing face to face with a six year old kid. Well, I just laid down my guns and walked away. Little bastard shot me in the ass!"
- Gene Wilder as "The Waco Kid"
"Someone's gotta go back for a shit-load of dimes!"
"What in the wide wide world of sports is goin on over here, I hired you to get a little track laid, not to dance around like a bunch of Kansas City faggots!"
"Piss on you, I'm working for Mel Brooks!"
"God dammit, Mr. Lamarr sir, you use your tongue purdier than a twenny dollar whore!"
- Slim Pickens as Taggart
"You will be risking your lives, whilst I will be risking an almost-certain Academy Award nomination for the Best Supporting Actor."
"Unfortunately there is one thing standing between me and that property - the rightful owners."
"My mind is aglow with whirling, transient nodes of thought careening thru a cosmic vapor of invention!"
- Harvey Korman as Hedley Lamarr