Mel Brooks’s off-color comedy “Blazing Saddles” is best in the West
Note: If this post about “Blazing Saddles” seems familiar, it’s because I originally ran it in 2011. However, the facts are still pertinent.
Mel Brooks, the delightfully crass filmmaker behind “The Producers,” “Spaceballs” and “Young Frankenstein,” has never worried about being politically correct.
Unlike other movie mavens, who tiptoe around sensitive topics and prefer philosophizing to fart jokes, Mel loves to celebrate the outrageous and the obscene.
Yes, his humor can come across as juvenile, but it’s so gleefully crude, so exuberantly rude, and that even the most serious, cynical critic is more inclined to chuckle than scowl.
“Blazing Saddles,” Brooks’ 1974 magnum opus, is at once a groundbreaking Western spoof with a valuable social message and an off-color comedy of the foulest, filthiest kind. After all, the movie features enough racial slurs, sexual innuendos and other questionable material to make the cast of “South Park” blush.
In “Blazing Saddles,” the frontier town of Rock Ridge is the only thing standing in the way of a new railroad line. Seeking to purchase the land for cheap, conniving State Attorney Hedley Lamar (Harvey Korman) engineers a plot guaranteed to drive the townspeople out.
He convinces the dim-witted governor (Brooks) to appoint a black railroad worker named Bart (the handsome and hilarious Cleavon Little) as sheriff.
Unfortunately, the ignorant townspeople don’t take kindly the idea of a black sheriff.
As the Waco Kid (Gene Wilder) explains to his friend, “What did you expect? ‘Welcome, sonny?’ ‘Make yourself at home?’ ‘Marry my daughter?’ You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.”
The hapless residents of Rock Ridge aren’t the only people to earn Brooks’ scorn.
Over the course of the movie, he insults women, horses, the handicapped, Hollywood types, Native Americans, Jews, the Chinese and the Irish. There’s even a dig at screen siren Marlene Dietrich.
Brooks, it must be said, is an “equal opportunity offender.”
“Blazing Saddles” screens at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Fremont movie theater, 1025 Monterey St. in San Luis Obispo. Come a half-hour early for trivia and prizes.
Tickets are $8 apiece.
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