Thursday, August 2, 2012

Discuss: Blazing Saddles

Doug:  From a guy's point-of-view, this is perhaps the funniest piece of celluloid ever created.


david_b said...

Ahh, I remember my Dad taking me to see this back in '74.. I got most of the humor, although the subtle stuff like Brooks as a Yiddish-speaking Indian chief was a bit above my 11yr old realm.

It certainly hasn't aged well, but the performances by Wilder and Little are still fresh. It was awesome to have Frankie Laine earnestly sing the theme song, Brooks never telling him it was a spoof movie. Apparently Brooks invited John Wayne to have a cameo. Wayne didn't want to tarnish his image, but later said he'd be the first in line to see it.

Favorite scene..? Toss-ups are Mongo punching out the horse, Little riding in on the Guichi leather saddle, and Little's 'Sherriff-at-gunpoint' bit, to name a few.

If you get the DVD, you get the best gag by watching the TV pilot 'Black Bart' starring a young Louis Gossett, Jr. as Bart and Steve Landesberg in Wilder's part. Bart's horse's name is 'Whitey'...

A dozen times, you hear Bart exclaim: "C'mon, Whitey, let's go..!!"


Anonymous said...

Watching "Young Frankenstein," I got the impression that Mel Brooks was a fan of 1930's Universal horror movies. Watching "High Anxiety," I got the impression that Brooks was a fan of Hitchcock. Watching "Blazing Saddles," I got the impression that Brooks had seen relatively few Westerns, and that the ones he had seen, he didn't like. (Except maybe the 1939 version of "Destry Rides Again.") I never really saw the logic in making a spoof Western at a time when there were hardly any straight Westerns being made. When Brooks co-created "Get Smart," he was satirizing the most popular fad at that time (it seemed like every movie or TV producer-and comic book publisher-was jumping on the James Bond bandwagon in 1965-66). (Similarly, Roy Huggins' "Maverick" series was partly a satire of Westerns, but that was in the late 1950's, when there were more than two dozen Westerns on the air each week.) If I had the job of producing a parody movie in 1974, I would have made a spoof of "tough cop" action movies and TV shows, since those were as ubiquitous in the seventies as spies in 1966 or cowboys in 1959. Obviously, Brooks knew something I didn't, since the movie was a big hit. Still, IMHO, the best Western satires and comedies were made by people who had made straight Westerns and thus understood the cliches that they were spoofing: "Along Came Jones," with Gary Cooper, "The Sheepman," with Glenn Ford, "Support Your Local Sheriff," with James Garner, and maybe "The Cheyenne Social Club," with James Stewart and Henry Fonda. One more thing and I'll finally shut up: I must be turning into a prude in my old age. I found a lot of the stuff in "Blazing Saddles," like the fart scene, to be stupid rather than funny. A lot of the jokes seemed like something you would hear in a middle school locker room (and a lot of the movie's fans were tweens at the time). And yet, I can appreciate a good dirty joke as much as the next person, if it's reasonably clever. I admit I did laugh at the scene with the church choir singing, "Our town is turning into s-."

david_b said...

Two classic lines by Mr Little:

"'Scuse me while I whip this out.."

"Hey, where da white women at..??"

His part was written for Richard Pryor, but the studios went understandably queasy at the notion of Pryor leading the cast, given his 'blue' standup routines and comedy albums back in the day..

Garett said...

I haven't watched this in a while, but I did watch Support Your Local Sheriff recently and enjoyed it. I've become more of a western fan than I was as a kid. Have Gun Will Travel is my favorite--just watched the first season, great character and writing.

Watching Gunfight at the OK Corral now--Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster are good together. Also a big Tombstone fan, with Val Kilmer's Doc Holliday.

Anonymous said...

Val Kilmer was also good as Billy the Kid. Of course, whoever plays Doc Holliday (Kilmer, Douglas, Dennis Quaid) usually steals the show. Most Westerns whitewash Wyatt Earp, leaving the shady Doc as the more colorful character.

Anonymous said...

The part of Bart wasn’t written FOR Pryor, it was written BY Pryor. He always supposed to be Bart, but the reason he was rejected wasn’t because his material was so blue, it was because he was so erratic that the studio couldn’t get insurance for the picture if he was in it. The freebasing incident didn’t happen until 1980, but he was pretty bonkers even before that. He was married 7 times, had six kids with 5 or 6 different women (sometimes while he was married to or involved with other women), went to prison umpteen times (I believe his entire military service was spent in the brig), and not just for drugs, also for assault, tax evasion and other issues, did every drug known to man which induced his first heart attack at 37, and his favourite trick once he got a film role was to sue the studio on allegations of racism and jack up his fee (allegedly).

Brooks was all set to make it up to him in 1980 with the role of Josephus in History of the the World, when Pryor torched himself mainlining and Brooks had to give the role to another black actor quickly ( a good day for you if your name is Gregory Hines).


david_b said...

Ah, Richard, thanks much for the correction. You're spot on regarding Mr. Pryor's involvement, my mistake.

(Geez, with my disappointing slap-dash reporting, I should easily earn a research job on CNN or Fox..)

Edo Bosnar said...

Love Blazing Saddles - and I think it holds up pretty well, although perhaps my opinion is colored by the fact that I'm a big fan of pretty much everything Brooks has done. And Cleavon Little (who appeared in way too few movies in my opinion) totally stole the show - no disrespect to Gene Wilder or Madeline Kahn.
And Doug, do you mean the entire movie is the funniest piece of celluloid ever created, or just the famous flatulence scene you linked here? Either way, that's a pretty bold claim...

Doug said...

Edo --

My tongue-in-cheek use of the article "this" was in reference to the film clip. I am personally unopposed to sophomoric, locker room-type comedy (yet even I have limits... somewhere).

Brooks' films are comic genius, when taken for what they were intended to be. In each of the films I've offered up over the past few weeks, their beauty lies in my adolescent slice-of-life in which they were first encountered.


Fred W. Hill said...

I love this film too. Althugh it came out at the tail end of the cowboy/western craze on tv -- I think it came out just before Gunsmoke and Bonanza came to the end of their dusty trails. Either way, the reruns were still in wide sindication so people were very familiar with the genre. I also liked Support Your Local Sheriff, but that was a different type of humor, somewhat subdued absurdism. Mel Brooks' humor was more over the top, sometimes plain crass, like, of course, those fart jokes! As for not quite being with the times, Space Balls came out a bit too late for the initial Star Wars craze but too early for Lucas' relaunce with the pre-trilogy. Of course, Young Frankenstein came out decades after the Universal films it so expertly spoofed, but then there were a lot of kids seeing those films for the first time on late night Friday or Saturday night Creature Features (like, say, me!). Naturally, some of Brooks' jokes in both Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein I didn't truly appreciate until I watched them again as an adult.

Anonymous said...

Hi David – I wasn’t really correcting, just adding to.

Regarding Wilder & Pryor: I like Silver Streak and Stir Crazy, but I thought See No Evil was cheap & nasty and Another You was just lousy. Such a shame that it was their last film together, and, really the last film either of them ever made except for cameos & TV.

Ironically, the two best Gene Wilder / Richard Pryor movies were the ones that weren’t: Blazing Saddles and Trading Places.


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