Top 100 Films #85 – Blazing Saddles (1974)

 

blazingsaddles_source#85. Blazing Saddles (1974)
Directed by: Mel Brooks
Written by: Andrew Bergman, Mel Brooks, Richard Pryor, Norman Steinberg, Al Uger
Starring: Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Harvey Korman, Slim Pickens, Madeline Kahn, Mel Brooks, Dom DeLuise, Alex Karras

Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder are one of the most successful comedic pairings in Hollywood history, collaborating on several bonafide comedy classics together. Blazing Saddles is without a doubt my favorite of their films together, as it represents everything I adore about the combined work of the two.  It’s funnier and more energetic than The Producers, and runs at a faster pace than Young Frankenstein, but combines their most hilarious elements into one perfect package.  Brooks’ film is special in that it’s something that could only have been made in the loose auteur-driven studio system of the 1970’s – using controversial and politically incorrect language and subject matter to push the envelope. You’ve probably heard it said many times in the past, but in this case they truly don’t make ‘em like they used to.  Blazing Saddles sees a newly freed black railroad worker named Bart (Cleavon Little) who is appointed sheriff of a raucous frontier town.  Along the way he meets the alcoholic Waco Kid (Gene Wilder), the fastest gun in the west.  The two men come up against fierce resistance, including an army of Ku Klux Klansmen, Nazi soldiers, and a man named Mongo.  Blazing Saddles is hilarious and brilliant throughout its brief 92 minute run-time, but it shines in its more meta, self-aware moments – which help to set it apart from the pack, and become more than just another comedy.  Mel Brooks’ brand of humor is unlike anybody else’s, and he and company truly struck gold with Blazing Saddles – a foul-mouthed, progressive, trailblazing film for the ages.

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