Not only is it absurd, hilarious, and absurdly hilarious, Mel Brooks’ 1974 spoof is also one of the most successful westerns of all time.
I first encountered this movie as a very young Amy, when my dad would choose a movie for us to watch on Monday nights while my mom was at her ceramics class. (I used to think that the Monday night movie was quality family bonding time, but now I also realize that it was a darn good ploy for keeping my brother and me entertained until bedtime. Way to go, dad!)
I’m not sure what I could possibly say about this film that hasn’t been said before by real professional movie-reviewing types, so instead I’ll share some fun facts:
- The movie grossed $47.8 million dollars at the box office1, or $119.5 million if you believe the Internet Movie Database.2
- Richard Pryor, one of the film’s screenwriters, was originally chosen to play Sheriff Bart, but the role went to Cleavon Little because “the studio believed that Pryor was an insane drug addict.”3 Though another source claims that Pryor lost out because he was considered too new and inexperienced.4
- The role of the Waco Kid, made famous by Gene Wilder, was first offered to John Wayne, who loved the script but was unwilling to ruin his image.5
So if you’re looking for fart jokes, horse punching, biker gangs, pie fights, Slim Pickens, candygrams, Count Basie and his orchestra, sharpshooters, an entire town full of people named Johnson, countless Mel Books cameos, schnitzengruben, musical numbers, the world’s most overbooked hangman, and believe it or not – a healthy dose of social commentary, be sure to check out Blazing Saddles.
1 Hughes, Howard. Stagecoach to Tombstone: the Filmgoers’ Guide to the Great Westerns. London: I. B. Tauris, 2007.
2 “Blazing Saddles (1974) – IMDb.” The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Web. 8 Nov. 2010. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0071230/>.
3 Schneider, Steven Jay. 1001 Movies You Must See before You Die. Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s, 2005.
4 McCabe, Bob. The Rough Guide to Comedy Movies. London: Rough Guides, 2005.