Blazing Saddles: An old western about life in America today (2023)


Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles is as relevant today as it was in 1974 because it deals with America's past, present, and future.

In September 2017, a Hollywood filmmaker and statesman of the past named Mel Brooks made a grim prediction for our culture: We would never make it.burning saddlestoday. Think about some of his masterpieces from the timeyoung frankensteincould still exist in a modern context,burning saddlesI'd just ruffle a bunch of feathers.

"Oh noburning saddlesBrooks le dice a BBC Radio 4, "Because we have become politically correct assholes, which is the death of comedy." Of course, this is an oversimplification of the changing attitudes in our society, but it rings with unshakable truth. "They," being Hollywood studios and the wealth of talent that frequents these distributors, would not playburning saddlesin 2019. Which has been a shame ever sinceburning saddlesit is as much about our current time and place as it is about the era in which Brooks emerged.

In fact, the irreverent and unabashedly crude parody of Western clichés is a unique comedy in the annals of American laughter because it's not simply a product of his contemporary sense of humor; It remains a universal commentary on American culture, dismantling and deconstructing a country's cinematic and cultural past.mel brooks“, in 1974, and envisions our future in the 21st century.

Supposedly a vulgar dash of insane hysteria that has the dubious honor of being the first Hollywood movie to have farting characters onscreen, the true timeless quality ofburning saddlesit's his ability to capture America's ongoing narrative of original sin while letting loose for the occasional flatulence. As such, 45 years later, he presciently mocks our current mistakes, even if his jargon is old-fashioned.


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Blazing Saddles: An old western about life in America today (1)

America's past

(Video) Indian chief scene from Blazing Saddles

burning saddlesIt wasn't exactly Mel Brooks' idea, at least as far as doing a parody of the west with a person of color becoming the new sheriff. The concept was created at Warner Bros. as a fish-out-of-water farce, starring James Earl Jones and Alan Arkin. But when that initial concept fell through, several filmmakers tried to direct the project. According to Brooks's confession, I was the loudest.

Brooks saw the title change many times during production; a personal favorite would have beenTexX(about Malcolm X). While the studio steered the film into less political waters in its marketing, the film dove headlong into them in its script and challenged audiences to get involved. In the context of farce and comedy, Brooks drew on the tropes and clichés of classic westerns and American myth-making to deconstruct the uneasy foundations on which such ideas were built.

The original cast for the Waco Kid, the shaky-handed alcoholic gunslinger played by Gene Wilder, was western icon John Wayne, who perhaps wisely turned it down, saying it was "too sad" for his personality, even though he wrote the apparently loved. script. . 🇧🇷 Be that as it may, the film is full of tributes to the heyday of the genre. The opening title track, "Blazing Saddles," is actually sung by one of the genre's greatest, Frankie Laine. The singer only found out about the project because the filmmakers placed an ad for a Frankie Laine "guy" in a newspaper, which is fitting considering other tracks in Laine's repertoire, including "Gunfight at the O.K." Corral" (1957), "3:10 to Yuma" (1957) and "Rawhide" (1959). When he was recording "Blazing Saddles", nobody dared to tell him that it was a comedy, since the old cowboy had tears of his eyes as he hit the high notes of "he rode a flaming saddle"!

The film itself is filled with reverence for Hollywood's past: Cleavon Little's heroic Sheriff Bart invokes the name of Western actor "Randolph Scott" to earn the respect of the racist mob that makes up the town of Rock Ridge; Waco Kid reflects that he has killed more men than Cecil B. DeMille; and Gabby Johnson (Jack Starrett) delivers "genuine frontier babble" that sounds suspiciously like actress Gabby Hayes. But beyond all the winks, nods, and pats on the back, and actress Hedy Lamarr's penchant for judgmentthen backfire belligerently in Brooks' face– there was something not so cute and nostalgicburning saddles' Look in the past. And it starts right away with Gabby Johnson's Frontier lingo.

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in one ofburning saddlesIn the most infamous scenes, Gabby watches over the newly arrived sheriff from Rock Ridge. What none of the townspeople are prepared to expect, however, is that the governor of Arizona has appointed a black man to the job. As the brawny and affable Sheriff Bart approaches town, Gabby Johnson appears to cry at the sound of a bell that reads "the sheriff is near." In her place, she says another N word altogether.

burning saddleshe makes no secret of the use of racist slurs, frequent and relentless in the Mark Twain tradition, pouring into the viewer's ears to exhaustion. But this language is not only used to surprise or laugh; The film depicts the ugliness of American culture that was as true in the 1874 film setting as it was in its 1974 release, and insidiously haunts us to this day. Simply making innocuous westerns like Gabby Hayes and speaking like true narrow-minded white men on a provincial frontier is unsettling and damning for the unspoken bigotry and pretensions of what is often perceived as innocuous American.

Often in classic westerns, particularly those by John Ford and John Wayne, frontiersmen are portrayed as open, honest, and hard-working warriors of virtue, ruling over a lawless land (Native American property). Brooks and Wilder's Waco Kid seems to agree with this point of view, but adds a small caveat. Debating why another racist in town called Bart the N-word, the boy muses, “You have to remember they're just country folk; these are the people of the land; the common tone of the New know, idiots🇧🇷 Did you mean pitiful?

This cruel undermining of the image of (white) American greatness runs through the entire film. Much is written about itburning saddleswith the first "fart jokes" in theaters, but it is also one of the first films to offer an authentic representation of "How the West was Won." Because it was not only the Anglo-Saxon courage that united the coasts to the continental railway. The main ridges on which the railways were built.they were irish and chinese immigrants🇧🇷 First-generation Irish dreamers did most of the heavy lifting on the Union Pacific Railroad, and Chinese immigrants were the main labor force behind the apparent fate of the Central Pacific Railroad.

(Video) Blazing Saddles: "There was a peaceful town called Rock Ridge"

In the opening sceneburning saddlesturns the film's well-known villain into wealthy railroad interests, but the workers who work on it are newly freed black men who are taunted by their white foremen for not being as "happy" as they were when they were slaves (a common piece of southern revisionismin the 20th and 21st centuries) and Chinese immigrants. When one of the Chinese workers collapses from heat exhaustion, his white manager cuts his pay for "a nap on the job."

The film exudes Western nostalgia, and yet it is under no illusions about who built the West. It then forces the audience to acknowledge this in the most confrontational way.


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Blazing Saddles: An old western about life in America today (2)

Your presence

Whenburning saddlesIn 1974, cultural tensions along racial lines were as acute as they had been less than two years ago, since the Nazis marched on Charlottesville and were later defended as "very good people" by the President of the United States. The Civil Rights Act was not even a decade old when the film was released in February 1974, let alone the Voting Rights Act; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated six years earlier; and President Richard Nixon had not yet resigned after Watergate...or after the implementation of his and the Republican Party's racist "Southern strategy."

However, one need not look at that macro-shift of history to recognize the endemic biases of culture. Simply craftingburning saddlescan do. Consider that the first choice for the role of Sheriff Bart was a comedian and actor.ricardo prior🇧🇷 Although he was a co-writer on the film and a fantastic aspiring comedian, it was partly because of his vulgar stand-ups that Warner Bros. used him as an excuse not to hire Pryor.sea ​​of ​​streams, "[I went] on my knees to all the studio heads" to cast Pryor in the lead role. And yet, in the face of rumors of his drug addiction and, perhaps more importantly, several previous arrests for drug possession as Black, the WB felt that Pryor could not be secured as a leading man, a moral and financial standard. that few have felt compelled to apply to many cocaine cases. dealers propelled the best acts of that decade.

Still, it was Pryor, still listed as a co-writer, who helped persuade Brooks to go further.burning saddleshe did with the emphasis on the liberal use of the N-word and the constant threat of resentment and hatred of blackness in America. According to the managerPryor insisted that the film depict its villains.and the townspeople as racists who would revel in the use of slurs. "Bad guys might say, theywould doSay that," Pryor said of the script. Pryor's goal was to find humor that could shock and impress audiences with something "real." The frequency of the n-word was unusual for a 1974 film, but its impact exposed something unspoken but pervasive in American life.

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But as good as Cleavon Little is in the film - and he's great, as is the confident but never embattled Bart - the fact that the studio doesn't want to use Pryor to finance the film is a nod to the tension that simmered in 1974.burning saddleshe was ridiculed in his entourage of 1874. Not that it is exclusively about that hundred-year period.


(Video) The Campfire - Blazing Saddles (5/10) Movie CLIP (1974) HD

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Blazing Saddles: An old western about life in America today (3)

Our future

And yesburning saddlesit's a bridge across time, so it hasn't found the end of its chasm yet. Brooks is right that the film's cavalier attitude of hurling racial slurs like the Waco Kid handing out candy could never have been made in 2019. But like the Waco Kid, there's a precision to its goal that was eerily achieved decades later.

Going back to the scene in The Sheriff Is Near Gabby Johnson, it doesn't take much imagination to realize that the sequence is a microcosm of the Obama years in America. As Bart approaches on horseback, smiling quietly and eloquently confident of assuming his new position, every white man, woman, and presumably child in Rock Ridge locks up and loads a six-gun or worse to shoot him. Before Bart finished his speech, he had dozens of guns pointed at his face.

The sequel's humor is still brutally funny because it's still true. As with almost all professions dominated by a white population in the United States, the introduction of the first person of color is met with open hostility. you can look aheadburning saddles' publication about receptions given to the Little Rock Nine in Arkansas, Jackie Robinson in Major League Baseball, or simply the treatment of the first black soldiers in the Union Army regiment during the Civil War. From Fort Wagner to Fort Pillow, black soldiers were treated as subhuman by their enemies, but they were also underpaid and neglected by biased superiors when the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment was first raised.

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And this truism of American life sadly continued in 2008, when the first African-American president was elected. During the election process, the Republican vice presidential nominee accused Senator Barack Obama of "playing with terrorists" and a large swath of white voters hinted that he was secretly Kenyan, Muslim or some other form of "other." That wasn't enough to cost Obama his first or second presidential election, but just as white voters in Rock Ridge had an instant instinct to take up arms,Gun sales in the United States have doubled and tripled.2008 fearing an Obama presidency.

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The Tea Party, a supposedly popular movement, experienced its first national protests less than two months after Obama's inauguration. While those early rallies were based on immediate opposition to the Obama administration's stimulus package, the predominantly white masses and organizations have become a national echo chamber for factual disinformation that Obama is not an American.

The current president of the United States is also a bon vivant of this movement. In fact, President Donald Trump made his first major foray into domestic politics, claiming that he had investigators in Hawaii to prove that Obama was born in Kenya, making him an illegitimate president. And since taking office, Trump has been as uninterested in who constitutes his "good people" in Charlottesville as he is.burning saddlesHedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman) is one of the kind of crooks who sides with Sheriff Bart in the third act of the movie, because they too like German helmets and Nazi salutes, which is fine with Hedley every time. that it is not so . Don't overdo it by flattering him.

Consider that halfway through the film, Slim Pickens' Taggert has a lament that could easily have been delivered at a rally about supposed American greatness: “Well, isn't that for the best? Here we are spending a great deal of time and effort killing every last Indian in the West, and for what? So they can appoint a sheriff blacker than any Indian. I'm depressed."

The language that Brooks, Pryor, and their fellow writers useburning saddleshas been culturally pushed out of the national lexicon, in small part due to art asabout the layout, which would shame and aggressively marginalize anyone who did. But the settings and "reality" that Pryor saw in the script remain. Whether it's Bart's first trip to the city or the way white communities resist integration when Bart makes his fellow freedmen live on the outskirts of Rock Ridge, he's still with us. It's even in our most progressive "woke" satire, as Brooks' on-screen governor, Lepetomane, is an intellectual jerk who only names Sheriff Bart on the promise of political credibility and the chance of a cabinet post. If it had been done today, he could have said, "If he could, he would have voted for Obama a third time."

burning saddlesit's still devilishly funny because while its language hasn't kept up with modern American life, its joke never will. Our culture is the joke.

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