Movie Review By Monica Sullivan
Once upon a time, Mel Brooks movies were so funny that audiences started laughing during the credits. These were during the heady years when Brooks made movies with Gene Wilder ("The Producers", "Young Frankenstein" & this gem) From the moment we hear Frankie Laine sing the evocative, Oscar-nominated "Blazing Saddles Theme" & listen to the cranked-up cracking of a whip, we know that "Blazing Saddles" will be rare & vintage Brooks & Wilder. Cleavon Little (1939-92), an enormously likable actor, is Sheriff Black Bart, Gene Wilder is The Waco Kid, Madeleine Kahn (1942-99) is Lily Von Shtupp & Harvey Korman is Hedley Lamarr. All the roles are stereotypical, with a friendly nod to "Destry Rides Again", but the homages are paid with such deep affection & comedic genius that "Blazing Saddles" succeeds in casting its own unique spell. Mel Brooks plays the dual roles of William J. Petomane & a Sioux Indian chief. Eventually, Brooks would dominate his films on & off camera, claiming that he was cheap & Gene Wilder was expensive, & he wound up throwing everything off-balance. Obsessed with flatulence & other body functions, Brooks' movies evolved into 90-minute bathroom jokes, with occasional plot relief thrown into the mix. 1974, though, was Mel Brooks' best year. Any movie with that great gospel spiritual, "I Get A Kick Out Of You", or the Von Shtupp classic, "I'm Tired", deserves to be on your shelf of worth-their-weight-in-gold videos for those gloomy days when you need them to make life worth living.
© 2001 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 3/7/01
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