Sunday, 30 September 2012

Blazing Saddles (1974) - ★★★★

Director: Mel Brooks
Writers: Mel Brooks, Norman Steinberg
Stars: Gene Wilder, Cleavon Little, Slim Pickens, Harvey Korman, Madeline Kahn, Mel Brooks. 

Blazing Saddles is a film that has as so many laughs, and also many jokes that fall flat. It's really funny in some parts, and tedious in others. What makes this movie so good is the originality and unpredictability of it all. There are many scenes that I've seen copied from this movie, yet they are no where near as good. I guess that's where the genius lies, is with its expert execution in comedy (with scenes that don't involve Mel Brooks). 

You could say that this is the Ultimate Satirical Western Spoof. It is set in the town of Rock Ridge situated next to a railroad construction site, where everyones surname is Johnson. When quicksand blocks the construction, the route has to be changed to go through Rock Ridge. The villain of the film, Hedy Lamarr, I mean Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman), wants to buy the land along the new route cheaply by driving out the townspeople. He sends a gang of thugs led by his blundering assistent Taggart (Slim Pickens), to get rid of them. The townspeople then demand that Governor William J. Le Petormane (Mel Brooks) appoint a new sheriff. The slow witted governor appoints a black railroad worker named Bart (Cleavon Little) who was about to be hanged to become the new Sheriff, for Lamarr convinced him that a black lawman will so offend the town people that they will either abandon Rock Ridge or kill the new sheriff.  Either way it will pave the way for him to take over the town. Bart then assumes the position of sheriff and joins forces with drunken gunslinger Billy 'Waco the Kid.' Together they must save the town of Rock Ridge from Lamarr. 

Gene Wilder played a small supporting role as Billy, who has the fastest gunslinging hands in the world. I was surprised at how toned down his performance was, as he is usually eccentric in films. The important thing is that he was funny, which I don't give kudos for director Mel Brooks' script. Brooks was the unfunniest part of the whole film. The Governor provided half of the flat jokes in the film and made me uncomfortable with how terribly unfunny he was. One thing I can say about Governor Petormane is that he reminded me a lot of George W. Bush, which was about the only thing that was slightly amusing about him. Cleavon Little was a great lead actor. He was funny, charismatic and really held the movie together well. Madeline Kahn played Lili Von Shtupp, who in my opinion was the funniest of the lot. She was pretty much a spoof on the great Marlene Dietrich and did a fantastic job.

Blazing Saddles was almost as unfunny as it was funny, which should make it a pretty average film. It is its revolutionary style of comedy that has made many call it one of the greatest comedies of all time. I personally thought that the ending made the film great, adding much of the action and excitement that was beginning to fizzle out. In the end I was entertained, it made me laugh and I'm glad I sat through all of it. It's clear that this film inspired many satirical spoofs made after it, thus giving the film the right to be called great.

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