Saturday, February 26, 2011

Blazing Saddles: A 1974 Western Comedy with Its Own Style

Blazing Saddles
Blazing Saddles has been one of the classic Western comedies for years. There are people that would easily give it a 10 out of 10 rating and also there are others thinking the movie is not worth even one viewing. We're going to point out some good and bad sides of the film so if the case is you haven't seen this movie yet, check out both of the lists below in order to make a decision. But first, a brief introduction of Blazing Saddles plot.

In the Old Wild West, a group of workers are constructing a new railroad. Unfortunately it runs into quicksand. A new route should be thought of and it looks the "best" option requires the railroad to go through a small western town named Rock Ridge where everyone seems to be named "Johnson". A corrupt politician Hedley Lamarr (played by Harvey Korman) wants to drive the townspeople out in order to buy the land cheaply. To scare the people away and to make the town unlivable, Lamarr sends a gang of criminals to kill the sheriff and make some havoc. The townsfolk demand a replacement sheriff from Governor William J. Lepetomane (Mel Brooks). Lamarr convinces the half-brained Governor to send one of the black railroad workers Bart (Cleavon Little) as a new sheriff. Lamarr's evil idea is that a black sheriff will be such a big offence to the citizens so they will leave the town just because of him or maybe even kill him. We will not continue revealing more of the plot but Blazing Saddles fun continues without having a break.

What you might not like about Blazing Saddles:
  • It's a Mel Brooks movie. If you've seen a lot of his movies and you think they are pretty much repetitive, chances are, you are not going to like this film.
  • If you don't like jokes about black people or Native Americans, do not see this movie.
  • There is a fart joke in the movie. Probably the first one in a film released from a major studio.
  • The ending is a mess. Even some people who do like the movie, do not enjoy the ending scenes.
  • It's a parody. Strangely or not, there are folks who do not like parodies.

What you might like about Blazing Saddles:
  • It's a Mel Brooks film. If you love his films, this one is definitely for you. It establishes patterns Brooks has been using in many of his subsequent movies.
  • The movie is a parody of numerous Western films with a lot of references. Some of the influences have been High Noon and Once Upon a Time in the West.
  • There are also many non-Western movies references, for example, to Hedy Lamarr or to Mel Brooks' film The Producers.
  • The movie satirizes racism. It shows a black sheriff being a hero in a white dominated and prejudiced country.
  • There are tons of funny (and memorable) lines in Blazing Saddles (e.g., "You men are only risking your lives, while I am risking an almost-certain Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor!").
  • Gene Wilder and Madeline Kahn star in the movie. The latter has even received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
  • Count Basie appears in a cameo role as himself.

A brief conclusion: If you do not have problems with Mel Brooks in particular or with parodies in general and you're able to excuse a few flaws, give Blazing Saddles a try. It is a movie with its own style, for good or for bad.

For other movie reviews browse our Maze of Reviews.


Justin Germino said...

The film is a parody and needs to be taken with a grain of salt, sure it has a little more crude humor than some of other Mel Brooks films but as a film of the times, it actually was hilarious. Some holds up really well in spoofing westerns at the time. Though by today's standards some of the racism humor wouldn't be acceptable they need to realize it is satirizing it as you said, they are making fun of all the puns and idiocies of the bigotries at the time.

Anonymous said...

I love Blazing Saddles. It's a movie that has aged well but it is not for everybody.

Richard Cross said...

Saw this for the first time in ages last night and was surprised by how funny it still was. Great movie...

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