206. Blazing Saddles

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Movie: Blazing Saddles

Release Date: February 7, 1974

Director: Mel Brooks

Starring: Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Slim Pickens, Harvey Korman, Madeline Kahn, Mel Brooks, Alex Karras.

Tag Lines: “Mel Brooks and the West! Together for the last time!”

“From the people who gave you ‘The Jazz Singer!'”

“Never give a saga an even break!”

Relevance: Obviously with a release date of 1974, I did not see ‘Blazing Saddles’ when it was released in theaters. I was three. Even if I wanted to, I am not sure they would have let me in the door. I didn’t actually see the movie until the early 1980’s when it appeared on HBO. When I watched it as a then twelve or thirteen year old, it felt like I was watching something that I shouldn’t be watching and that just made me love it even more.

I have always loved silly comedies simply because I have always loved to laugh. There is no better medicine in the world than laughter. To sit in front of a television or movie screen and just laugh is pure heaven and that is what a lot of Mel Brooks’ movies were to me. Heaven.

‘Blazing Saddles’ was a crass, naughty, provocative and silly film filled with non-stop gags and jokes that kept me laughing the entire time I watched it. I often stifled those laughs though, because I didn’t want my family to know I was laughing at it. It felt dirty to be laughing at sex, penis and boob jokes in front of my family, but that only made them even funnier. The whole satirical humor most likely went over my head that first time I watched it, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying it immensely. I tried to watch it as many times as I could when it played on HBO.

As I got older and Mel Brook’s kept releasing more movies, I kept on watching and laughing. I also revisited a lot of his older films. When I was in college, I re-watched ‘Blazing Saddles.’ At nearly twenty, it was almost like I was watching a whole different film. Of course I remembered the penis jokes and the horse getting punched, but I now noticed the satire and its message on race. That is when the movie really clicked with me and became one of my favorite films.

I own the DVD of ‘Blazing Saddles’ and have watched it countless times over the years. The one constant thing about it is it always, always makes me laugh. Good comedy never gets old, and this is not just good comedy, this is great comedy.

Today’s Thoughts: What an interesting time to be watching ‘Blazing Saddles.’ With the Black Lives Matters movement gaining momentum and hopefully staying long enough to make real change, watching a satirical comedy about race made in the early 1970’s was enlightening. Enlightening, but still very, very funny.

I have always hated slurs that are based in hate, especially the n-word and f-word. I just don’t tolerate hate and those words to me are filled with hatred. When I hear them, I cringe. Now the message of the movie is definitely pro-equality, but being a satire, it pokes fun at absolutely every walk of like, even Methodists. Having seen ‘Blazing Saddles’ before, I knew I was going to hear both slurs. So before watching it, I did a little research.

Mel Brooks wrote the film with a few other writers, one being Richard Pryor. Mr. Brooks said he received consistent support from both Mr. Pryor and Cleavon Little, its star. One quote I found interesting is as follows: “If they did a remake of Blazing Saddles today, they would leave out the n-word. And then, you’ve got no movie.” When I watched it today, I cringed, but I can’t help it. However, I also had a better understanding of why they were so important to be used.

With that said, the movie is still one of the funniest movies ever made. The cast is absolute perfection. Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn and Harvey Korman are a few of my favorite comedic actors of all time. The fact that they are in a Mel Brooks movie is just icing on the cake. Each of them have so many stand-out scenes, each making me laugh out loud until my stomach hurt, “A wed wose, how womantic.” But Cleavon Little, who portrays Sheriff Bart carries the film with his perfect comic timing and charm . He simply lights up the screen.

As already mentioned, Mel Brooks is one of my favorite directors. This is already his second film of four on my list of favorite movies of all time. (Check out 272. Spaceballs for his first.) Another one is actually popping up again tomorrow. There is nothing better than a Mel Brooks’ double feature. Although they can be totally interchangeable on the list, ‘Blazing Saddles’ was the perfect movie for today.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Madeline Kahn (nomination), Academy Award for Best Film Editing, John C. Howard, Danford B. Greene (nomination), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song, “Blazing Saddles,” John Morris, Mel Brooks (nomination), BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles, Cleavon Little (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay, Mel Brooks, Norman Steinberg, Andrew Bergman, Richard Pryor, Alan Uger (nomination), National Film Registry (2006), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen, Mel Brooks, Norman Steinberg, Andrew Bergman, Richard Pryor, Alan Uger (winner).

Ways to Watch: YouTube, Vudu, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Prime, Hulu, DVD Availability.

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