Who else but Mel Brooks, the guy who wrote “Springtime for Hitler” into his 1968 film, “The Producers,” would have the chutzpah to write, direct and produce “Blazing Saddles.”
Filled with multiple uses of the n-word and several other examples of low-brow humor, “Blazing Saddles” broke new ground for comedy films when it came out in 1974. Friday night at Proctors, there will be a special screening of Brooks’ masterpiece, and when the film is over Brooks himself will give audience members an inside look at the making of the movie as well as some recollections from his long and legendary career.
In numerous interviews commemorating the movie’s 40th anniversary last year, Brooks said the film was too politically incorrect to be made today. The story is about a black sheriff named Bart, played by Cleavon Little, who hopes to bring law and order to the small western town of Rock Ridge. It also starred Gene Wilder, Harvey Korman, Madeline Kahn, Slim Pickens and Brooks himself, along with a cast of hundreds.
It was nominated for three Oscars (Best Actress for Kahn, Best Film Editing and Best Original Song for Brooks and John Morris) and won a Writers Guild of America Award for Brooks and his three co-writers, including Richard Pryor.
WHAT: A screening of the movie and a conversation with writer and director Mel Brooks
WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday
HOW MUCH: $50-$150
MORE INFO: 346-6204, www.proctors.org
Film critic Roger Ebert used one of Brooks’ own lines in his 1974 review: “At its best, [Brooks’] comedy operates in areas so far removed from taste that (to coin his own expression) it rises below vulgarity.”
Ebert liked it and so did just about everybody else, although Vincent Camby of the New York Times had a few reservations, comparing “Blazing Saddles” to Chinese food. “A couple of hours later you wonder where it went. You wonder why you laughed as consistently as you did.”
There are probably more jokes, gags and laughs in the 93-minute film than any other cinema piece in history. Here are 10, in no particular order.
* Welcome sheriff: The town of Rock Ridge has prepared a glorious welcome for its new sheriff, only to recoil in horror when they realize he is black.
* The campfire: As a bunch of cowboys finish their supper of beans, the sound of flatulence is heard.
* “I’m tired.” A musical number with Kahn doing a parody of Marlene Dietrich performing “The Laziest Gal in Town” from the 1950 Hitchcock film, “Stage Fright.”
* Mongo’s entrance: Detroit Lions football player Alex Karras makes one of his most memorable film appearances, punching a horse to the ground after riding into town on a steer.
* Jim and Bart are introduced: The characters played by Wilder and Little get to know each other with a game of chess.
* “It’s Hedley, not Hedy:” Korman’s character, Hedley Lamar, doesn’t like being called Hedy Lamar.
* The quicksand scene: Taggert, played by Pickens, cares very little that Bart and another man fall into quicksand.
* Looking for work: As Korman’s character looks for ruffians to attack Rock Ridge, he shoots one candidate for chewing gum and not having enough for everyone.
* Wet sauerkraut: Kahn as Lili and Little as Sheriff Bart have a romantic moment.
* The pie fight: As Korman and others run for cover, they break through the doors of Warner Brothers Studios into the street. Korman tells a cab driver, “Get me off of this film.”
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