Throwback Thursday: Blazing Saddles

Blazing Saddles is a hilarious satire on old-school Western classics and asks what would happen if a racist Western town got an African-American sheriff in 1874.

This is one of those ridiculous premises that only Mel Brooks could ever deliver. It has meta-humor that is timelessly hilarious. The moment the Western hooligans go crashing through all the other film sets is insanely funny and just pokes fun at the film industry as a whole. It also plays with the invisibility of non-diegetic sound and even has scenes of characters watching their own movie.

It primarily calls attention to the inherent racism of Western films in the most over the top way. Do some jokes seem a bit too racist and don’t age so well…well yeah some of them, but it was 1974 so we’ll give it a pass. Some jokes really don’t hold up as well as other jokes like I can almost bet none of today’s audiences will understand a Hedy Lamarr or a Douglas Fairbanks joke. And to be honest, I had to Google the second one, so I’m not a totally hypocrite.
Still, it plays up all the Western tropes and completely flips them on their head. Mel Brooks loved to be bold and crazy and like my other favorite Brooks film Young Frankenstein the best jokes carry over the 40 plus years it took for me to watch them. This is another film that makes you really miss the comedic mind that was Gene Wilder, and I’m kind of sad I never knew who Cleavon Little was until this movie because he was also a great talent.

I also liked that this film wasn’t afraid to push envelopes. Weirdly enough this is first time farting was displayed onscreen, which I find hilarious because executives freaked out about that and not all the rampant n-word dropping apparently. Still this movie approaches racism for the ridiculous belief that it is, and by being so excessive with it they should how pointless it really is. At least in my opinion I don’t really see this film as being a racist or homophobic movie because it makes fun of everything and shows you how ridiculous these ideals are. I really like the way Mel Brooks has the ability to take genre tropes and show how silly and clichéd they can become, especially in cookie cutter genres like horror and westerns can often be.

Amy’s Recommendation: 9/10

I still demand how they train horses to just fall over. And I need to know how they got away with black penis jokes in 1974, because that is impressive.


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