Customer Reviews: Blazing Saddles (30th Anniversary Special Edition)
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on June 26, 2004
"...of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives." Thus spoke Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman), the State Procurer, Attorney General and Assistant to the Governor as he plotted against the residents of Rock Ridge in Mel Brooks' hilarious western spoof "Blazing Saddles", which was first released to theaters in 1974. With the meager budget of only $2.6-million, the film grossed over $119.5-million, making it the highest grossing western of all time until the release of "Dances with Wolves" in 1990, which grossed over $184-million. The success of "Blazing Saddles" is attributable in large part to the superb direction and writing (in conjunction with several other writers) of Mel Brooks, who (of course) also acted in the film in three separate roles: as Gov. William J. LePetomaine, an Indian chief and a World War I aviator. Equally important are the many very talented comedic actors who brought the film to life.
The plot of "Blazing Saddles", as I eluded to in my review opening, takes place primarily in the fictional old-west town of Rock Ridge, whose residents seemingly all have the same last name and who have been mercilessly besieged by a group of thugs who are lead by a man named Taggart (Slim Pickens, 1919-1983). After the thugs kill the sheriff of Rock Ridge, the residents send an urgent plea to Gov. LePetomaine to immediately appoint a new sheriff. Gov. LePetomaine delegates the appointment to his assistant Hedley Lamarr, whose nefarious secret agenda is the destruction of Rock Ridge to make way for a new railroad line. Lamarr devises what he believes will be the final, unconscionable inducement to the residents of Rock Ridge for them to vacate: the appointment of a black sheriff, Black Bart (Cleavon Little, 1939-1992). Most of the residents of Rock Ridge are aghast when Sheriff Bart rides into town. However, he quickly acquires a sidekick in Jim 'The Waco Kid' (Gene Wilder) and some unsolicited attentions from the heavily accented visiting stage performer Lili Von Shtupp (Madeline Kahn, 1942-1999), whose passions include the consumption of schnitzengruben. The story continues to entertain as it builds to a climax that only the twisted comedic genius of Mel Brooks could devise. Also, in classic Mel Brooks fashion, the film includes several musical interludes that include the film's title song (sung by Frankie Laine), "The Ballad of Rock Ridge", "I'm Tired" (sung by Madeline Kahn), "The French Mistake" and "April in Paris". Other memorable characters include Olson Johnson (David Huddleston), Rev. Johnson (Liam Dunn, 1916-1976), Mongo (Alex Karras in his first big-screen role), Howard Johnson (John Hillerman), Van Johnson (George Furth), Gabby Johnson (Jack Starrett, 1936-1989), Harriett Johnson (Carol DeLuise, a.k.a. Carol Arthur), Dr. Sam Johnson (Richard Collier, 1919-2000), Buddy Bizarre (Dom DeLuise) and a cameo by Count Basie (1904-1984). There were also several brief uncredited appearances by Anne Bancroft, Gilda Radner (1946-1989) and Rodney Allen Rippy who played Bart at age 5.
Overall, I rate "Blazing Saddles" with a resounding 5 out of 5 stars. It is a hysterically funny film that I can highly recommend to everyone. Though none of Mel Brooks' other films were as financially successful as "Blazing Saddles", many are noteworthy of mention, including "The Producers" (1968), "Young Frankenstein" (1974), "High Anxiety" (1978), "The History of the World, Part 1" (1981) and "Spaceballs" (1987).
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VINE VOICEon March 13, 2001
Blazing Saddles is one of the great comedies of all time. Unfortunately, it's likely that no major studio today would release it. South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, Something About Mary and American Pie (all hilarious movies which I would highly recommend, by the way) contain toilet humor that makes Mel Brooks at his most graphic seem like a Disney movie in comparison. However, today's politically correct Hollywood would be horrified with a comedy that uses racial epithets left and right, worrying about the backlash that subject matter would cause.
This is too bad because Blazing Saddles shows that such language, given the right context, can actually combat bigotry by showing how stupid it really is. Cleavon Little, as Sheriff Bart, and Gene Wilder, as The Waco Kid, are presented as islands of sanity in a sea of ignorant, racist townspeople. The 'n' word is thrown out repeatedly, but is intended as an insult to the people who say it rather than a slur against blacks. Mel Brooks, a very liberal Democrat, recognized that racism is offensive and nasty in nature and showed it in its true light in Blazing Saddles. As a result, the film does more to ridicule racism and bigotry than most serious "message films" on the same subject ever could.
Unfortunately, the corporate suits who now run the big studios are more worried about image and profits than producing quality movies. As long as a film offends as few people as possible and appeals to as many members of the general public as possible (preferably between the ages of 18 and 35), the executives like it -- even if the film has no originality or artistic merit at all. As a result, films like Blazing Saddles and TV shows like All in the Family are taboo these days. Hollywood has lost a lot of daring and courage since 1974. See Blazing Saddles and you will realize just how much.
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on June 15, 2000
This was definitely Mel Brook's crowning achievement. Unfortunately you could never release a movie like this today in our "politically correct" environment. Although Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder were terrific (these are common-clave people. You know, MORONS!), it is the supporting cast that truly made this the all-time classic it is today. Slim Pickens first line in the movie is unforgettable, Harvey Korman's hilarious bad guy (that's HEDLEY!), Madeline Kahn's deadpan impersonation of Marlene Dietrich, and Alex Karras as dimwitted Mongo all contribute to the nonstop hijinks. All are hilarious and each of them steals the show at some point in the film. That part where Mongo punches out the horse is a classic clip. One terrific character in the film not mentioned in other reviews here is frontier gibberish-uttering Gabby Johnson, a dead-on spoof of Gabby Hayes, who appeared in pretty much every Western film from the turn of the last century up through the Roy Rogers era. But the true gift of this film is that every kind of humor is used, from subtle situational humor to in-your-face slapstick comedy. Truly a funny movie that is appreciated by several generations today and will continue to be so in the future.
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on November 1, 2006
Yes, I am an early adopter and this was the second HD-DVD I purchased. I show this to my friends, including those with HDTV from either cable or a dish, and they are VERY impressed. This movie looks fantastic. The colors are spot on and the level of sharpness is top notch. This release showcases an excellent video transfer of this movie. Regardless of whether or not Mel's humor is to your liking, this is one of the finest HD DVDs currently on the market
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The night I graduated from high school a bunch of us piled into a small car to go see "Blazing Saddles" at the drive in, which still seems a totally appropriate decision on just so many levels. Ultimately, I think Mel Brooks' 1974 film is one of the most important comedies ever made because it opened up the door for the entire range of comedies that have followed that eventually gets us to the Farrelly Brothers. However, while this is a very important comedy in cinematic history it is not the funniest movie ever made (that would be "Airplane!"), nor is it even the funniest Mel Brooks movie ever made (which is still "The Producers," although "Young Frankenstein is a close second).
The anarchy of the comedy in "Blazing Saddles" goes back to at least the Marx Brothers and is embodied in the original tagline, "Never give a saga an even break." But while Brooks goes after every cliché associated with the Western genre that becomes hard to remember once the onslaught of crude, sexist, racist comedy with toilet humor and foul language. Hard to believe that a scene of cowpokes eating beans around a campfire could threaten the foundations of the American empire, but then Brooks got Frankie Laine to sing the Oscar nominated title song:
He rode a blazing saddle
He wore a shining star
His job to offer battle
To bad men near and far
He conquered fear and he conquered hate
He turned our night into day
He made his blazing saddle
A torch to light the way
I maintain that gave the film the requisite pseudo-legitimacy that allowed fans to maintain that there was something important going on here in terms of satire, which could at least be argued as outweighing the offensive humor.
The film opens with a black rail gang lay laying track down in the Old West when the boss orders them to sing a work song. They pick Cole Porter's "I Get a Kick Out of You," and act totally confused with the boss shows them how they should be doing "Camptown Races." Meanwhile, the town of Rock Ridge, where everybody is named Johnson, lies directly in the path of the railroad and corrupt Attorney General Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman) has a land grand scheme to steal the land and resell it to the railroad. When the sheriff of Rock Ridge is murdered, Black Bart (Cleavon Little), a hip convict becomes the town's new black sheriff. The one kindred spirit Bart finds in town is the Waco Kid (Gene Wilder), who is sobering up in the jail.
Enough of the plot, because it is just an excuse for the characters, who include Brooks as Gov. William J. LePetomaine (and the Indian chief and the World War I aviator in the bad guy lineup), Alex Karras as Mongo the less than intelligent horse decking heavy, veteran Western character actor Slim Pickens as Taggart, John Hillerman as ice cream shope proprieter Howard Johnson (1 flavor sold), and supporting actress Oscar nominee Madeline Kahn as Lili Von Shtupp. Every one of those names should bring forth a favorite memory from the film.
The screenplay was written by director Brooks, Norman Steinberg, Andrew Bergman (who did the original story), Richard Pryor (who was to play Black Bart until it was decided he was too controversial), and Alan Uger, so Brooks had some help being a triple threat in this film. Brooks wrote the songs "The Ballad of Rock Ridge", "I'm Tired" and "The French Mistake." "Blazing Saddles" was the biggest money making Western of all time until "Dances With Wolves" came out, which is one of those bits of trivia that you find hard to believe.
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on February 16, 2004
If Mel Brooks was born with 100,000 jokes and gags, 95,000 wound up in this movie. By far the strongest movie in the Brooks stable of send-ups (they're not snooty enough to be satires), this movie lampoons Westerns with his trademark low-brow and some high(er)-brow humor. The plot, in a nut shell - The evil Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman, in a performance I think bests his Carol Burnett ones) wants to run the railroad through peaceful Rock Ridge. Rock Ridge won't get out of his way, so he hires a black man as sheriff of the town, thinking this will accomplish his goal. But the sheriff (Cleavon Little) is just a little too smart (and stylish) for this to work. A fairly laid-back Gene Wilder plays The Waco Kid ("my name is Jim, but people call me...Jim."), Cleavon Little's quick-drawing sidekick. Together they clean up the town, foil Heddy's ("Hed-ley's") plans, and tear up a small portion of Hollywood along the way.
This movie is completely un-apologetic and un-PC in it's approach to racism - there's no way it would have been made in the last 20 years and <nobody> but Mel Brooks would have the courage - but it's not a racist or preachy movie. It's just funny.
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on June 17, 2006
It is one of those comedies that you either like or hate. I liked it, I think that too many people take themselves so seriously. Blazing saddles gives a relief to that narrow type of outlook. I think that if you just accept it as a comedy, and don't try to make it more than it is. It's a comedy, and plain and simple a very good one. It a parody on everything that people look for to take an issue on. Lighten up ,and just enjoy.
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on October 1, 2006
Mel Brooks does it perfectly in this send up of western films! Not sure I need to add too much to that, if you have never seen this film, you need to! It is a comedy classic. As to the transfer to Blu-Ray, it is a decent one. Okay, this is an older film, so it isn't one of the best Blu-Ray titles to be sure, but it looks as good as I have ever seen it look here in Blu-Ray High Def!

No older film is going to look perfect in high def, and flaws are to be expected, but this is still a nice transfer overall. Looks so much better than the standard DVD, and holds up well to the HD version.
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on July 14, 2004
"Blazing Saddles" has no plot - just pretext. It's that a railroad must come through the town of Rock Ridge and that the residence there must be driven from their land. To this end, the despicable Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman) sends in a gang of desperadoes to assassinate the newly appointed sheriff (Cleavon Little). Gene Wilder cuts a hilarious swath as Deputy Jim, the Waco Kid, a dimwitted politico who can't help but muddle himself into one raging fiasco after another. Madeline Kahn as Lili Von Shtupp (a wicked spoof of Marlene Dietrich) is the town madam, whose song "I'm Tired" quite simply has to go down as one of the funniest bits of double entendre ever put on film. Once director, Mel Brooks gets started, logic is lost in a cavalcade of outrageous, wacky/tacky lunacy, so utterly juvenile and crude that one cannot help but willingly surrender to its audacity. There are just too many gags to mention and such a waste to spoil the full breadth of hilarious depravity in this film for the first time viewer. I'll not be the reviewer to ruin the experience of witnessing this masterwork of farce and slapstick. See it now and remember it forever more.
Blazing Saddles has been remastered for this 30th Anniversary Edition. While the prior release was marred by age related artifacts and a considerable amount of edge enhancement, this new release seems to have been minted from a pristine camera negative. Colors are rich, vibrant and startlingly three dimensional. Most of the scenes exhibit richness in fidelity that many films of the same vintage wholly lack. Truly, there is nothing to complain about here. Contrast and black levels are bang on. The picture is remarkably solid with limited film grain and NO digital anomalies for a very smooth visual presentation. The audio has been cleaned up and remixed to 5.1 with a very nice - if dated - spread. Extras include two documentaries on the making of the film - one actually an excerpt from a larger documentary on Madeline Kahn, scene specific audio commentaries, the original television pilot for the television series that was supposed to be based on the film but never materialized, stills and a theatrical trailer. Warner Home Video has done a very, VERY nice job on this disc. It's a pleasure to have Mel Brook's insulting satire back where it belongs!
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on August 16, 2001
I have to start this by saying that this is one of the funniest movies of all time. The problem is with the packaging of the DVD. First, the box is cheap. Not a hard plastic case, but one made out of cardboard. Secondly, where are the Mongo scenes? Those who seen this on network TV remember scenes where Mongo has an anvil dropped on his head, is dropped down a well, and all other sorts of Warner Brother foolery a la Bugs Bunny. The only bit you get is the "Candygram for Mongo." (Track 12). The other missing scene (at least the only other I can remember) is where Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder are being chased by Harvey Korman's gang after the "Sign In" scene (Track 18). They elude their persuers by blending in with a group of baptists.
I'm not saying that the movie is lacking because of these scenes, but I was dissapointed that they weren't included. To me, DVD is about having some of those extras. I looked between the boxed set and the single-sale disk and I can't see a difference in the features. The disk you get is double sided with widescreen on one side and regular viewing on the other. The quality of the print could be better; it seems a bit grainy. I have the feeling that this was something that somebody at Warner Brothers slapped together just to increase the DVD library.
If you can find it cheap, go ahead and get it. I have it and I'll buy it again IF it comes out with the extra scenes and a couple more features like out-takes and the such. This movie is nearly 30 years old (EEK! I was 7 when it came out.), there should be a Special Edition issued.
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