BLAZING SADDLES. 1974. DIRECTED BY MEL BROOKS. STARRING MEL BROOKS, GENE WILDER, CLEAVON LITTLE, SLIM PICKENS, HARVEY KORMAN, BURTON GILLIAM, ALEX KARRAS AND MADELINE KAHN. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
I think this is the funniest film I’ve ever seen in my life. And I do mean genuinely funny. There isn’t a single forced or strained laugh anywhere to be found in it. I first saw it with my family over Christmas donkeys’ years ago. I was an impressionable teenager at the time. I’m not lying when I tell you that the tears of laughter were streaming down our faces by the time the credits rolled. We’d literally never seen anything like it in our lives.
The humour lies in the fearlessly irreverent nature of the jokes. The film is blatantly racist and sexist and we all know it, but it’s done so well that you don’t mind a bit. The ‘n’ word is used repeatedly to describe black people, rape is considered an admirable activity to stick on your curriculum vitae and women are portrayed as huge-breasted, vacuous dummies whose sole purpose in life is to satisfy the nearest man.
It sounds so wrong, but I challenge you to get uppity about it. I positively challenge you…! The writing is just so clever and witty, it’s impossible to take the (black…?) humour the wrong way.
It’s a spoof Western set in 1874. Cleavon Little plays a slave who gets promoted (for purely tactical reasons on the part of the corrupt businessman Hedley Lamarr) from working on the railroad to the post of Sheriff of Rockridge, a little town that’s having big trouble with lawlessness.
Sheriff Bart is handsome, urbane, multi-talented and as smooth as James Bond any day of the week and he’s well up for doing the job he’s been assigned to, but the inbred citizens of Rockridge subject him to the kind of racism that you could be locked up for nowadays. How in the hell is that funny, I hear you ask? It’s the way they do it. Watch it and I promise you you’ll get what I mean. Even Sheriff Bart has trouble keeping in the laughs at times.
My family and I laughed ourselves silly at the rollercoaster of gags that came hurtling towards us at full speed. The Number Six Dance. What happens when you feed a bunch of cowboys nuthin’ but beans. The Waco Kid. ‘The little bastard shot me in the ass…!’ ‘Don’t just stand there grasping yo’ hands in pain.’ ‘What about a good old n***** work song?’ The toll bridge in the middle of nowhere. The citizens’ of Rockridge’s terrible plan to create exact facsimiles of themselves and their town overnight. The fact that their God-awful plan actually works for a minute or two. That’s the real joke, haha.
Wait. There’s more. Much more. ‘Candygram for Mongo.’ ‘Mongo have deep feelings for Sheriff Bart. Sheriff Bart only man ever whip Mongo.’ Madeline Kahn doing her best Marlene Dietrich for the lads. Mel Brooks himself playing the sex-obsessed governor of the state who also happens to be not very good at governing. Doing The French Mistake. The old lady who says to poor Sheriff Bart: ‘Up yours, n*****!’ The long line of ne’er-do-wells applying to Hedley for the post of… well, ne’er-do-wells needed to trash the town of Rockridge:
‘You said rape twice.’
‘I like rape.’
The end of the film had us sitting up and goggling at the screen, wondering if we’d accidentally switched over to another channel. We hadn’t, though. You’ll just have to watch the film to find out what I’m being so cryptic about, haha. It’ll be worth it if you think you might enjoy seeing Adolf Hitler grabbing a bite of lunch in the cafeteria of a Hollywood movie studio. Wondering what the bleedin’ hell I’m rabbitting on about…? Watch the movie!
Gene Wilder is superbly cool as the Waco Kid and Sheriff Bart is infinitely fanciable. If you’re in any way human, this rather under-appreciated gem of a film will make you laugh till you ache. I have to finish up now because I’ve got some cattle to stampede. Through the Vatican. (How kinky is that…?) Oh, and also, I’m having the s**t raped out of me tonight at the Number Six Dance. Ooops, sorry, was that non-politically correct? I rather suspect that it might have been. Well, what can I say, folks? I… Um, well, I like rape…
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:
1) ‘… BY A WOMAN WALKING HER DOG…’
2) A WRITER’S JOURNEY
3) ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA
4) ANOTHER FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
5) CANCER BALLS
6) CATCH OF THE DAY
7) FIFTY FILTHY-DIRTY SEX-POEMS YOU MUST READ BEFORE I DIE.
8) FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
9) THE DEVIANTS
10) VISITING DAY