Blazing Saddles (1974)

9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Smart look at race, some great actors

Don't like Mel Brooks portions, some humor below the smart script

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Blazing Saddles

Studio:  Warner Bros.

Genre(s):  Comedy

Release Date(s):  February 7, 1974

MPAA Rating:  R


Let’s educate these people!

When the train tracks are headed for the town of Rock Ridge, Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman) wants the land and appoints an African-American sheriff named Bart (Cleavon Little) in the hopes of driving the people out. Faced with people hating him, Sheriff Bart teams with a fallen gunslinger named the Waco Kid (Gene Wilder) to win the townspeople and fight the menace of Hedley and his henchmen like Taggart (Slim Pickens) and Mongo (Alex Karras) before Rock Ridge is destroyed.

Directed by Mel Brooks, Blazing Saddles is a comedy classic. It is Mel Brooks at possibly his best (along with The Producers and Young Frankenstein) and was nominated for Oscars for Best Supporting Actress (Madeline Kahn), Best Song (“Blazing Saddles”), and Best Editing. It is frequently in the top ten of all-time great comedies.


Mongo punch horse!

With all of the accolades, I wish I liked Blazing Saddles a bit more. Don’t get me wrong, it is a really good comedy, but there are definitely things I would change about it. I love all the issues about race brought up throughout the film. There was a lot of flack about using the n-word so often, but it does serve a purpose by over playing the problem of racism that still exists today. The reaction of the townspeople to reminded me of some of the reaction by some people to Obama’s election. Unlike then, it just seems to go more unspoken. With a script brave enough to go after that, Blazing Saddles gets respect just for that (an original title was going to be Tex X to play on the Malcolm X name).


Lili von Shtupp…I want you!!!

Another great aspect of the film is the acting. Madeline Kahn is great (I think she’s always great in comedic roles), but there are also great performances by almost all the starring and supporting actors.  Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder are a good comedy duo (it was originally supposed to be Gig Young for the role of the Waco Kid, but he was let go because of his drinking), and Cleavon carries his scenes by himself. Other fun roles include Slim Pickens as henchman to Harvey Korman’s fun Hedley.  Also many of the towns people, plus Mongo (Alex Karras), have perfectly timed moments that still get the laughs.


These scenes just don’t work for me!

With all the praise, my problem with Blazing Saddles is that it is a Mel Brooks movie. When he shows up (even as the Native American), the humor just feels to dry up.  Much like Woody Allen, I don’t like him in his own pictures. Also with such a smart script, it seems like pandering to have scenes like the fart scene, “repeat after me” (which is like a third grader joke), and the extremely meta-ending where they leave the movie and spill-out into the Warner Brothers’ lot just doesn’t feel satisfying. It is a bit like a Monty Python movie, but the style of humor doesn’t match up with this strangeness. I would have liked a more satisfying and smarter solution.

Despite my minor criticisms, Blazing Saddles is a classic. The movie needs to be seen to understand other comedies that come after it, but I think Mel Brooks is hit or miss with audiences. Either you will like it or ho-hum your way through it. Try to ignore the Brooksisms and enjoy a great look at race and racism that can still be applied today.


Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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