Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Blazing Saddles


I have always felt that Young Frankenstein is Mel Brooks’s best movie, because not only is it very, very funny, it is also a work of art in its production design and photography. By making it actually look like it was made by James Whale in the 1930s, he enhanced every joke. But if you asked me what his funniest movie is, Blazing Saddles has the edge, by a horse’s whisker. In these days when even Disney movies include an obligatory fart joke, it is hard to recall just how much impact the famous campfire scene had, with all the cowboys shoveling beans into their mouths and firing up the prairie with their asshole symphony. (The DVD has an extra that shows the “edited for TV” version of that scene, and it’s funny all over again because, when first shown on network TV, all the farts were taken out, so we see cowboys inexplicably rising up, sitting down, rising up again … it’s insane!) This movie also broke a lot of barriers in language, though I don’t recall that the fuck-word was ever used. John Wayne asked Mel Brooks if this movie was really going to use the phrase “blow it out your ass.” Mel said yes, and would you like to star in it? Wayne said he couldn’t be in a movie like that, but he’d be the first one in line to see it. There was also the extensive use of the nigger-word, which is the basis of some of the funniest jokes. It’s the shock value, and it works. I sort of wonder how that plays these days among people who have never seen it before. I mean, there are those who are trying hard to expunge this horribly offensive word from the language, as if it never existed (I think they are idiots). Can you see the scene, re-edited for political correctness, with John Hillerman welcoming Cleavon Little into town, unaware he’s black? “I’d like to welcome to town our new … N-word.”