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500 Five-Star: Blazing Saddles (1974)

October 28, 2011

 

I’ve been with my husband for almost eleven years now, and barely a day has gone by in that time when he hasn’t quoted a line from Blazing Saddles.  Yet, incredibly, it wasn’t until this week that we finally sat down and watched it together.  It felt as if I had seen it a million times, so often had I been forced to hear about it, and it was only upon actually viewing it that I discovered I hadn’t seen any more of it than a few clips on TV countdowns and the like.  The fact that I knew it so well is a sign of how well-loved Blazing Saddles is, and on watching, I can see why it has endured for so long.  Not only is it very funny in parts (I’m thinking specifically of Mel Brooks’ entire Governor scene here), it’s also much angrier and sharper than I expected.  Mel Brooks is basically taking a giant hammer to the traditional Western genre, smashing it to pieces and showing the audience the horrible remains.  Hollywood, Brooks is saying, has been making a fortune by making people of colour into villains, or even worse, hiding them away completely.  Blazing Saddles may, first and foremost, be a comedy, but it’s one with a very, very angry message.  It doesn’t all work, sadly; too often Brooks gets carried away, and the third act is quite honestly a mess.  However, for the most part, this is a very entertaining comedy, which makes you think along the way…and you don’t get too many of those from Hollywood.

 

Verdict:

I hate to punish it for this, but the passion and vitriol which make Blazing Saddles such an interesting watch have also contributed to it being distinctly uneven, and even downright messy at times.  For that reason, I have to give it only…

****

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