IN THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR WITH MEL BROOKS REVIEW: “Blazing Saddles” stars Cleavon Little (The New Temperatures Rising Show [TV series], Vanishing Point), Gene Wilder (The Woman in Red, The Little Prince ), Slim Pickens (Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, The Getaway), Harvey Korman (The Carol Burnett Show [TV series], Jingle All the Way), Madeline Kahn (A Bug’s Life, Clue), Alex Karras (Webster [TV series], Victor Victoria), Mel Brooks (Spaceballs, Life Stinks), Carol Arthur (Robin Hood: Men in Tights, The Sunshine Boys), and David Huddleston (The Big Lebowski, Santa Claus: The Movie). It was directed by Mel Brooks, who also wrote it with Norman Steinberg (My Favorite Year, Johnny Dangerously), Andrew Bergman (Striptease, Honeymoon in Vegas), Richard Pryor (Bustin’ Loose, Uncle Tom’s Fairy Tales), and Alan Uger (Stephanie [TV movie], Family Ties Vacation [TV movie]). In a scheme to empty out a town of Johnsons in order to build a railroad over it, Hedley Lamar (Korman) sends his henchman to rape and pillage. Once the town loses their sheriff in the effort, they ask of the mayor (Brooks) to send in a new one. Playing into their hands, Lamar influences the mayor to choose a black man in hopes of forcing the morons out of their town.
Ah yes, “Blazing Saddles,” one of Mel Brooks’ well-admired films in his portfolio. Not only would the movie be considered heavily offensive in this day of age, but it’s also pretty funny. My knowledge on the genre of the Western is rather slim. I’ve seen some fantastic pictures as well as some dull ones that lie in it. I’m not an avid watcher of the category, but I do consider myself a lover of it when done right. Brooks takes the clichés found in those films, mocks them, and then takes a twist that no one saw coming (at least I didn’t). This thing doesn’t hold back, with the N word being flung around like a frisbee and horses being the center of some hilarious (but bad) animal cruelty; at least for one real horse who got punched right in the face. I gotta say that this story was highly unpredictable and very original. Though it uses the same tropes you find in your average Western, it makes fun of them, thus making it difficult to criticize it. The writers got what they wanted, so the goal was reached. Nothing was over complicated, but everything was certainly silly. Actually, it was practically bonkers. The story of a black sheriff trying to save a town that doesn’t want him for his color makes for insane humor and offensive jokes. You could not take kindly to them, but really it’s the townsfolk who are mocked at when using the foul language. They’re a bunch of inbreds who all of the same last name, unable to save themselves from a few desperadoes out to do no good. I found myself engaged with this story; not so much for the plot itself, but for the performances and characters they inhibited. Sure, the dialogue spoken was funny, but it was how the actors delivered them that made this shine. The comradery amongst Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder made for a great show, with each doing spectacular in their own roles. As for the supporting cast, they all did good themselves. Harvey Korman, Madeline Kahn, and Mel Brooks provided solid humor that kept the entertainment flowing. I especially enjoyed Brooks, for he was dirty yet hilarious. What transpired of this story is hard to interpret unless you see it. The fourth wall is broken quite a bit, with the ending being insanely chaotic; so much so that you don’t even know the genre anymore. I never saw it coming, but I loved the heck out of it because it was so good. Brooks did fantastic at directing this and the cinematography and aesthetics made this look and feel like a real Western; except with a Brooks twist. I wouldn’t say that I laughed at it harder than “The Producers,” but it did get a rise out of me more times than none. It takes a true knowledge of Western cinema and its world to take in all the jokes, and while I didn’t have this it still made me laugh. Sure, it’s silly and most people probably would turn away because of that, but I implore you to check it out. It’s witty, funny, original, and just a classic in terms of comedy. Besides it being utterly outrageous, there isn’t much I can gripe about with the flick. I could say that some moments felt slow, mainly because some jokes didn’t stick to me. There’s more character moments and sequences made solely for jokes, so if you don’t laugh, it’ll most likely come off as filler. In the end, this is a wonderful picture that breathes life into the comedy realm, especially for Westerns. It isn’t the funniest movie I’ve seen, but it is surely an entertaining, surprising feature nonetheless. FINAL SCORE: 90%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: