Blazing Saddles (1974)

“Blazing Saddles” lovably pokes fun at showbiz clichés, musical comedy, ethnic stereotypes, and cowboy conventions such that I laugh-til-I-cry.

This movie is peerless (and fearless) in its unapologetic send-up of political INcorrectness — while at the same time serving as an homage to the American western. Forty-plus years later it still makes me howl with scenes of:

  • KKK robes with smiley faces
  • Mel Brooks — a Jew — as an Indian chief
  • Black men on a chain gang breaking into a Cole Porter’s “I Get a Kick Out of You”

    Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder (African-American and Jewish, respectively) donning Ku Klux Klan robes as a disguise
    Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder (African-American and Jewish, respectively) donning Ku Klux Klan robes as a disguise

To make it all work director Mel Brooks assembled a cast that was as incredible as it was improbable (Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Slim Pickens, Harvey Korman, Madeline Kahn, Alex Karras, Dom DeLuise). It’s a tall tale about how the little cowboy town of Rock Ridge was threatened and ultimately saved by the most unlikely of heroes.

Brooks has more recently questioned whether this movie could even be made in in today’s humorless, politically correct culture. I am afraid he is right. This scene is a perfect example wherein the prospective savior, er, the new sheriff arrives and, uh, doesn’t quite match the expectations of the townsfolk.

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