Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wednesday Westerns: Blazing Saddles

Welcome to the final edition of a weekly feature here at Movies With Abe. In an effort to provide a look back at older films and a desire to highlight a specific genre, I have been spotlighting a Western film each week, combining films from a course I took while at NYU called Myth of the Last Western and other films I have seen and do see.

Blazing Saddles
Directed by Mel Brooks
Released February 7, 1974

I’m thrilled to bring this series to a close with one of the more unconventional Westerns there is – another comedy, this one from master parody artist Mel Brooks. It’s an absolutely brilliant, totally inspired riff on the traditional aspects of a Western, with plenty of full-blown hilarity thrown in. Characters encounter bands in the middle of the desert, and that’s just the tipping point of the mockery. This film’s splendor is perfectly captured in the clip embedded below, which finds the redneck residents of a town eagerly awaiting their arrival of a new sheriff, only to discover, in horror, that he is black. Cleavon Little, who is terrific in the lead role as Bart, manages the scene so well as he, facing a number of loaded guns, takes himself hostage and succeeds in saving himself by tricking the townspeople into letting him get taken away. Little is just one of the great parts of the film, joined by Gene Wilder, Slim Pickens, Harvey Korman, and Madeline Kahn as the aptly-named Lili Von Shtupp. Brooks injects just enough smart Jewish humor into the film, like an Indian chief speaking Yiddish, that it goes so far above and beyond what a Western parody needs to do that it becomes instantly unforgettable and immensely watchable over and over again. The Oscar-nominated theme song is just as magnificent. See it if you haven’t already, and watch the purposely politically incorrect clip below to get a taste. "Excuse me while I whip this out..."

1 comment:

Greg Boyd said...

Spoilers ahead in case anyone who hasn't seen "Blazing Saddles" happens to read this comment!

I love this movie, right up until about the last 10-15 minutes. I'm sorry, the whole climactic food fight is basically stupid and prevents this from being one of the great film comedies of all-time. The final shot of them getting into a limo is priceless, though.