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Blazing Saddles

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Blazing Saddles

Starring: Gene Wilder, Cleavon Little
Director: Mel Brooks
Rated: R
RunTime: 93 Minutes
Release Date: February 1974
Genres: Western, Comedy

*Also starring: Harvey Korman, Mel Brooks, Madeline Kahn, Alex Karras, Slim Pickens, David Huddleston, Burton Gilliam, John Hillerman, Dom DeLuise

Review by Brian Koller
2 stars out of 4

"Blazing Saddles" is a parody of the Western movie. While it is not a particularly good film, it became the second grossing film of 1974 and has enjoyed a strong reputation since that time.

The plot has greedy schemer Harvey Korman trying to become wealthy by grabbing land associated with a new railroad. He must drive off the present owners, who live in the western outpost Rockridge. Part of his schemes involves giving them a black sheriff (Cleavon Little), who soon gets a sidekick (Gene Wilder).

It is hard for a slapstick comedy to be a good film. The plot isn't much, and the setting exists mostly to set up gags and jokes. The film's quality becomes dependent on how good these gags and jokes are. How funny they are may be subjective: cowboys farting after eating a plate full of beans may be hilarious for a sixth grader, but not so funny for others. On the other hand, youngsters may miss the humor in Yiddish-speaking Indians.

Some moments in "Blazing Saddles" are funny. The theme song (by Mel Brooks) is a riot. Madeline Kahn's Marlene Dietrich impersonation scores some points. Dom DeLuise has a great cameo as the director of a gay chorus line. Howard Johnson owns an ice cream parlor with a sign saying 'one flavor'. But most of the humor is more silly than effective, not enough to overcome the thin plot and characters.

Kahn got an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her performance. Comparing her Dietrich-like character with the real thing, Dietrich was a lot more fun in another western comedy, "Destry Rides Again" from 1939. Another difference between the two films, besides the quality of script, cast, plot and characters, is that "Destry Rides Again" seemed to have a focus, a direction, while "Blazing Saddles" wanders amiably but aimlessly.

Copyright 1999 Brian Koller

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