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Film Review: Blazing Saddles

Mark Tregoweth
Mark Tregoweth

Prepare to laugh like you’ve never laughed before with the 30th anniversary release of Mel Brooks Blazing Saddles.

Long before the humor of Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler and Mike Myers ruled supreme, writer/director/ producer and actor Mel Brooks delivered a special blend of comedy that kept audiences in hysterics.

Politically incorrect and raw at times it is quite possibly one of the funniest films ever made. In 2004 Blazing Saddles is as fresh today as it was when it debuted in 1974.

The films plot centres on Bart (Cleavon Little) a black railroad worker condemned to death for assaulting his white foreman. His life is reprieved by the governor moments before his hanging, with the crafty idea of making him sheriff of Rock Ridge, a town he wants demolished to make way for the railway. The governor mistakenly assumes a black sheriff will be enough to finish the town.

When Bart arrives in Rock Ridge, locals try to lynch him before he outwits them.  He strikes up a friendship with the town drunk, The Waco Kid  (Gene Wilder), together they set about the task of winning over the folk of Rock Ridge and saving the town from destruction.

Along the way the two characters encounter extreme stereotypes of characters from the Wild West in supporting roles that help to steal the show.  Madeline Khan as the hilarious saloon floozy Lili Von Shtupp and Harvey Korman as the corrupt Attorney General Hedley Lamarr add to the films flavour with one-liners and antics that have to be seen to be believed.

An hour long interview with director Mel Brooks provides an insight into his vision for the film 30 years on while ‘Back in the Saddle’ a documentary looks into the making of the film with Blazing Saddles writer Andrew Bergman and stars of the film. Further goodies for fans include deleted scenes and the pilot episode of a proposed TV spin-off.

Larger than life Blazing Saddles was probably seen as an assault on good taste on its initial release 30 years ago but in today’s politically correct climate its gags and non-stop laughs make for a refreshing change.

30th anniversary special edition
Warner Bros
RRP $29.95

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