Director: Mel Brooks
Well, this seemed like the most suitable thing to watch next, given both of the last two films I watched had a certain influence on it… also I was in the mood for something piss-funny and damned if this doesn’t fit that description just fine. Blazing Saddles is one of those “comfort food” films of mine, the sort of thing I’ll watch any time it comes on TV but usually I never think to actually own a copy for myself; this is one of the few exceptions—I got it on blu-ray from JB a while ago cos it was cheap (or there was a “buy 2 get 1 free” offer, I forget)—and I’m glad I did, it was welcome this afternoon. And yet I still remember my first viewing of it, enjoying it up to the climactic battle… and then you get that overhead shot that pulls back so you see a big wide aerial view of the set and indeed the rest of Burbank (where it was shot) and then we go into the musical stage… what the hell happened? The film was doing so well until that point… it took a few more viewings to realise that the outburst of “it’s only a movie” was, well, logical is hardly the right word but it now seems like the best “why the hell not” option; having broken the fourth wall a number of times, why shouldn’t the film take the remains of the fourth wall and just obliterate them… Also, I never realised until now that Richard Pryor was one of the co-writers, and was originally intended to play Bart, while Gene Wilder was originally cast as Hed(le)y and only became the alcoholic Waco Kid when Gig Young was fired from that part on account, ironically, of his own drinking problems. As it is, the casting in the finished work seems so right I can’t imagine the original casting being much better. Warner’s were appalled by it (particularly the numerous racial epithets, but Brooks was taking a swipe at the racism of earlier westerns like Warner’s themselves would’ve made back in the day), but were presumably calmed by the fact it returned nearly $120m at the box office (apparently it was only the tenth film ever to do so). Brash, crass, and completely unsubtle, and sometimes that’s perfectly fine; Blazing Saddles probably wouldn’t do any other way.