Co-Writer/Director: Mel Brooks
Running time: 93 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15
USA Release date: 7th February 1974
Watched on Sky+ Friday 3rd June 2011.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I have seen this film many times before and it has always amused me. It’s not a great piece of filmmaking by any stretch of the imagination, but I have always got a lot of pleasure out of it. I guess I have to admit to being a bit of a fan of the work of Mel Brooks, he has a pretty unique way of looking at things. His take on the Western is a prime example… lots of jokes about race and class but never in bad taste.
When politically connected bad man Hedley Lemar hears the railroad is to go through the small town of Red Rock he decides he wants the land for himself. In his words, “It will be worth millions!”. When the townsfolk petition the governor to give them a new Sheriff, Hedley forges a plot to make the townsfolk leave by giving them a new Sheriff of his choosing, a new black Sheriff. He has chosen a troublemaker called Bart to fill the post and he is keen to impress the townsfolk. Things don’t go according to plan and Bart is left in the Sheriff’s office with his deputy, a drunk called Jim. Now Jim is a former gunfighter called the Wako Kid, but those days are behind him now. Can Bart get the townsfolk on his side? Will Jim stop drinking and take up his guns again? Why does everyone in town seem to have the surname Johnson? All these and many more questions are answered in the film ‘Blazing Saddles’.
What I like about this film is the fact that Brooks doesn’t restrict himself to spoofing Westerns. No genre is safe, there are lots of references to the Nazi’s for instance. Good performances all round; Cleavon Little as Bart, Gene Wilder as Jim, Slim Pickens as Taggart, Harvey Korman as Hedley Lemar, Madeline Kahn as Lili Von Shtupp and, of course, Mel Brooks as Governor William J. Lepetomane / Indian Chief.
The ending of the film is a bit of a mess with a fight in the town spilling over into other sets on the film studio. I can forgive that though because this film has given me and my friends so many quotes over the years. It’s not only the spoken gags though, it’s the visual ones as well. The scene where a man and his horse are about to be hung I find hilarious. As a piece of filmmaking, it’s a bit of a mess, it all seems to have been a bit rushed, but I love it!… Recommended.
My Score: 7.8/10