Blazing Saddles (1974)
Directed By Mel Brooks
Starring: Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Slim Pickens, Harvey Korman, Madeline Kahn
Six years after The Producers Mel Brooks took on another ridiculous story with Blazing Saddles. This time he brought back Gene Wilder and paired him up with Cleavon Little, Harvey Korman, Slim Pickens, and Madeline Kahn. This movie was not only a commercial success, but also a critical one. The movie was nominated for three Oscars including a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Kahn. In 2006 it even became a part of the National Film Registry.
When a new railroad looks to run through the city of Rock Ridge corrupt officials get involved. Soon Hedley Lamarr (Korman) has persuaded the governor (Brooks) to appoint Bart (Little), a black convict, as sheriff of the small town. Despite the racist townspeople this plan backfires and the new sheriff becomes their biggest adversary. As Lamarr seeks to run him out of Rock Ridge he uses brute force and a sexy woman (Kahn). On his side, Bart has recruited gunfighter Jim (Wilder) and the citizens of Rock Ridge.
This movie doesn’t really need much of an explanation. It’s got some of the best comedy ever seen on the big screen. The story is simply a vehicle for some of the best dialogue, buts, and gags that Mel Brooks could come up with. This film also uses offbeat humor to satirize the way Hollywood had overlooked the racism of the early West. Brooks made sure to push all the right buttons with the constant attacks on all types of people. With Little and Wilder delivering great dialogue the film works wonderfully.
The acting from Kahn, Korman, Wilder, and Little is wonderful. Kahn deserved her Oscar nomination and Korman probably should’ve been nominated. Ironically, one of Korman’s lines in the film is “You men are only risking your lives, while I am risking an almost-certain Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor!”
Wilder and Little were also deserving of the praise of fans and critics for their work. This would be the height of success on the screen for Cleavon Little who battled health issues and died young of cancer. Wilder would go on to do some other great films including The Frisco Kid and Stir Crazy.
This movie has so many great elements. The music is wonderful, the sets are ridiculous, and the acting is over-the-top in every way. One of the nice things about this movie is that any criticism is worthless since Mel Brooks makes his films in such a way that they feel intentionally flawed but still amazing.
If you haven’t seen this one, you should. It’s a great movie for a mature audience who love comedy. I must warn you that Brooks doesn’t shy away from racism at any point, so this might offend some people. Just remember that it’s not meant to offend, but to satirize racism in Hollywood. Mel Brooks brought all of his talents to the table for this incredibly funny movie. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars.