Movie Monday: March 4, 1974

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Blazing Saddles Image One
Image Credit: imdb.com

Forty-five years ago, today, the most popular film at the box office was Blazing Saddles, a satirical Mel Brooks-directed western starring Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Slim Pickens, Harvey Korman, Madeline Kahn, Mel Brooks (three on-screen characters), Alex Karras, David Huddleston, John Hillerman, Dom DeLuise, Count Basie (as himself), Rodney Allen Rippy (as a young Bart), with uncredited appearances by Anne Bancroft, Aneta Corsaut (Helen Crump) and Patrick Labyorteaux (JAG TV series). Released February 7, it was produced by Michael Hertzberg and based on a story by Andrew Bergman. Bergman collaborated with Brooks, Richard Pryor, Norman Steinberg and Al Uger to craft the screenplay and, John Morris (The Woman in Red & Dirty Dancing) was composer.

An IMDB Summary:

The Ultimate Western Spoof. A town where everyone seems to be named Johnson is in the way of the railroad. In order to grab their land, Hedley Lemar [sic] (Harvey Korman), a politically connected nasty person, sends in his henchmen to make the town unlivable. After the sheriff is killed, the town demands a new sheriff from the Governor (Mel Brooks). Hedley convinces him to send the town the first Black sheriff (Cleavon Little) in the west. Bart is a sophisticated urbanite who will have some difficulty winning over the townspeople.

Quotes:
From Vincent Canby (The New York Times):

“[…] comedies, like Mel Brooks’s “Blazing Saddles,” the best title of the year to date, are like Chinese food. A couple of hours later you wonder where it went. You wonder why you laughed as consistently as you did. [It] is every Western you’ve ever seen turned upside down and inside out, braced with a lot of low burlesque […]. The trouble is that [it] has no real center of gravity. Harvey Korman, a gifted comic actor who is so fine as Carol Burnett’s television co‐star, tries very hard to be funny as a crooked businessman and sometimes succeeds. But, it’s apparent that he’s hard put to keep up with the movie’s restless shifting from satire to parody to farce to blackout sketch. [It] has no dominant personality and, it looks as if it includes every gag thought up in every story conference. Whether good, bad or mild, nothing was thrown out.”

Blazing Saddles Image Two
Photo Credit: coedmagazine.wordpress.com

From Roger Ebert:

“It’s a crazed grab bag of a movie that does everything to keep us laughing except hit us over the head with a rubber chicken. At its best, his comedy operates in areas so far removed from taste that (to coin his own expression) it rises below vulgarity. One of the hallmarks of Brooks’ movie humor has been his willingness to embrace excess.”

From Mel Brooks (Interview at Creative Screen Writing):

“The writing process on Blazing Saddles was the complete opposite of the writing process on Young Frankenstein. Blazing Saddles was more or less written in the middle of a drunken fistfight. There were five of us all yelling loudly for our ideas to be put into the movie. Not only was I the loudest but, luckily, I also had the right as director to decide what was in or out.”

Trivia Bits:
James Earl Jones was to be the original Sheriff. Richard Pryor was next in line but, the studio wouldn’t finance it due to Pryor’s background.
Gig Young was originally cast as the “Waco Kid” but, collapsed on set and was replaced with Wilder.
♦ Warner Bros. almost didn’t release the film. The executives thought it too vulgar for the American public.
♦ Governor William J. Le Petomane (Brooks) was a take-off on the stage name of a French Flatulist.

Nominated for three Academy Awards and two BAFTAs. It won three awards. Recognized by the American Film Institute, it is listed as #6 of the 100 funniest American films.

26 thoughts on “Movie Monday: March 4, 1974

    jmshistorycorner said:
    March 5, 2019 at 12:08 AM

    I’ve heard of it. It was originally the most successful film of ’74 (until The Towering Inferno overtook it).

    Like

    nostaligicitalian said:
    March 5, 2019 at 6:28 AM

    It consistently shows up in the Top 10 on lists of the “funniest comedies”, yet you always seem to hear “It could never be made today.” Mel Brooks said recently society is killing comedy: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-4908698/PC-world-death-comedy-says-Mel-Brooks.html

    Liked by 1 person

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      March 5, 2019 at 2:59 PM

      I agree with him. People these days are more interested in being offended.

      It was a great satire on race. Sadly, our country seems to be going backwards on that.

      Liked by 1 person

        nostaligicitalian said:
        March 5, 2019 at 10:42 PM

        I do, too! We are ultra-sensitive to everything today. When you look back in history, there are plenty of things that we see weren’t very nice, but they are history. Banning the Dukes of Hazzard because of the Confederate Flag, or not showing cartoons from World War II because they poked fun at the Japanese or Germans is silly. People forget to consider the time period of things. Look at some of the classic films of the 30’s and 40’s and think about how far we have come as a nation. We talk about having freedoms, but many of those freedoms are offensive to people. It’s just crazy! Mel Brooks hits the nail on the head in that article! It’s hard to be funny without offending someone today. You could make a long list of TV shows that wouldn’t be made today because of things that we find offensive today.

        Like

          The Hinoeuma responded:
          March 6, 2019 at 12:19 AM

          The Confederate Flag hysteria has had help to push that along. That flag has been around for nearly 160 years. NOW, they want to ban it? Act like it doesn’t exist?

          Wiping out a peoples’ history isn’t just a US malady. Islamist extremists have destroyed all kinds of ancient sites. SMDH.

          Like

    bottomlesscoffee007 said:
    March 5, 2019 at 10:18 AM

    An amazing classic. That along with Young Frankenstein, the history of the world part 1 and many more. Mel Brooks was a genius.

    Like

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      March 5, 2019 at 3:09 PM

      He is a trip.

      Read the link Nostalgic Italian posted, above. Sad & true.

      Liked by 1 person

    badfinger20 said:
    March 5, 2019 at 11:24 AM

    I love this film. No way it would fly today but this is my favorite Mel Brooks film. Gene Wilder is great as always.

    Like

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      March 5, 2019 at 3:11 PM

      Funny you should say that. Read Nostalgic Italian’s link, above.

      Liked by 1 person

        badfinger20 said:
        March 5, 2019 at 3:35 PM

        I agree with Mel…

        Liked by 1 person

    floatinggold said:
    March 6, 2019 at 2:20 PM

    FORTY-FIVE years ago??? Wow.

    Like

    bereavedandbeingasingleparent said:
    March 10, 2019 at 11:37 PM

    Only seen it once but it feels like I know every scene and line. I am waiting for the sanitised reboot…..

    Like

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      March 10, 2019 at 11:58 PM

      Heh, heh, heh… The politically correct one? With the “they” & “them” pronouns? LAWD.

      Like

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