Top positive review
153 people found this helpful
"My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets..."
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).