Stay Classy: Blazing Saddles

SC_blazing saddles

BY ERIN TORRANCE

Year released: 1974

How it fared back then: While Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles remains the highest-grossing western film of all time, the film opened to mixed reviews. Many found Brooks’ signature film to be an unflinching satire on racism and the western genre, and the film garnered three Oscar nominations; on the other hand, Variety called it “a raunchy, protracted version of a television comedy skit,” while others found it to be a low-brow film rife with fart jokes.

Why it’s lasted: There’s no doubt the film is littered with offensive jokes, so it stands to reason that there is still a pretty decent divide when it comes to this film. However, those who love it, love it. It’s witty, satirical, strange, subtle at times, offensive and obnoxiously raunchy—all the makings of a classic comedy, no?

Classic moments:

  • Every song, plus the performance of “Campton Races” in the opening scene
  • The incredibly rude—though later very polite—pie-giving elderly woman (she holds her own)
  • Lili Von Shtupp’s (Madeline Kahn) butchered burlesque/stand-up comedy act—particularly the accent
  •  “Would you like another schnitzengwuben?” “No, thank you. Fifteen is my limit on schnitzengruben.”
  • Waco Kid’s (Gene Wilder) invisibly fast draw
  • Registration line in response to poster: “Help Wanted: Heartless Villains For Destruction of Rock Ridge, $100.00 Per Day, Criminal Record Required, Hedley Lamarr, Equal Opportunity Employer.”
  • Shooting of the arsonist who didn’t bring gum for everyone (how inconsiderate)
  • “Crime?” “Stampeding cattle…” “That’s not much of a crime.” “…through the Vatican.” “Kinkyyyy.”
  • 10-cent toll booth (“Someone’s gotta go back and get a shitload of dimes!”)
  • And while it’s not my favourite moment, this list isn’t complete without mentioning the campfire scene

Does it hold up?: Yup. This film is one of my dad’s favourites, so I’ve seen this a few times (whenever it was on cable), along with Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, which was also released in 1974, and Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Blazing Saddles ranks sixth on the American Film Institute’s top 100 comedies, even after 40 years. It’s an audience film, so while it may lack structure or “class,” it keeps you laughing. Blazing Saddles is quintessentially Brooks, and that’s what makes it a classic.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLNQv19YpG4]
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One response to “Stay Classy: Blazing Saddles

  1. It is more than just a comedy though.
    Mel’s true gift is his ability to slap society in the face with it’s own hypocrisy while making them enjoy it. To point out and lampoon societal norms and cultural issues while still making a damn good film.
    This is why Blazing Saddles is an infinitely better film than Robin Hood. This is why The Producers is so fantastic.
    When he does it right – nobody does it better than Mel.

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