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No. 34: “Blazing Saddles” (1974)

“Gentlemen, please, rest your sphincters.” ~~Hedley Lamarr

I do believe, in all the wide, wide world of sports, that I have No. 6’d my way into a corner here.

Lookit: “Blazing Saddles,” as mentioned in the 10 movie facts post, played an incremental role — however demented — in my development from sullen teen to maturity-resistant adult. I have seen it upwards of 100 times. My parents and I have all but created our own language based around quotes from the film. It isn’t close to my heart; it’s in my heart. And it is much easier to review films when there is no emotional attachment involved. How do you turn fresh eyes on a film like that? I’m not sure. I can be a provincial putz that way.

So for “Blazing Saddles” we’re going to change the way we do business here at M. Carter @ the Movies. I’m going to do something a little bit different, something that suits the episodic nature of the film and something that speaks to the deep appreciation I have for comedy that not only stands the test of time but bests it. (Those unfamiliar with the film, scroll to the end for a brief plot summary.) Seeing as “Blazing Saddles” is a collection of golden comedy nuggets, allow me to lead an exploration of the 34 scenes/quotes/gags that qualify Mel Brooks’ film as one of the funniest ever made, and a staggering work of mad genius.

Excuse me while I whip this out:

34. “Mongo only pawn in game of life.”

33. The saddles are designed by Gucci. 

32. Hedley Lamarr’s (Harvey Korman) loss of Froggy in the tub, and Taggart’s (Slim Pickens) accidental game of find-Mr.-Winkie.

31. Hedley’s list of the baddies he needs to take over Rock Ridge (it includes Methodists).

30. Idiot Gov. William J. Le Petomane (Brooks) can’t get a simple harumph outta that guy.

29. “Well, it all depends on how much Vitamin E I can get my hands on.”

28. Lili Von Schtupp’s (Madeline Kahn) idea of what constitutes slipping into “something a little more comfortable.”

27. Guy dressed as Hitler: “They lose me right after the bunker scene.”

26. The French Mistake.

25. Dom DeLuise demonstrating the French Mistake.

24. Gov. Le Petomane can’t fit his pen in the inkwell (“think of your secretary”).

23. The revelation that stampeding cattle through the Vatican is villainous … and kinky.

22. “I will read from Matthew, Mark, Luke and DUCK.”

21. Mongo (Alex Karras) is not gay.

20. Lili’s entire performance at the saloon, but particularly the line “they start with Byron and Shelley / then jump on your belly / and bust your balloon.”

19. “Teutonic Titwillow” would be a killer name for a band.

18. But “Teutonic twat” would be even better.

17. Rev. Johnson’s heartfelt prayer to God using the phrase “dicking around.”

16. “Land: see Snatch.”

15. Murdered sheriffs and burned crops are acceptable, but did the cattle deserve that kind of treatment?

14. Harriet Johnson’s (Carol Arthur) voice can put the fear of the Lord Almighty in ya.

13. “We’ve gotta protect our phony-baloney jobs, gentlemen!”

12. That a quote from Nietzsche is followed by “blow it out your ass.”

11. Wed woses are so womantic.

10. Chewing gum on line is a capital offense.

9. “Goddarnit, Mr. Lamarr, you use your tongue prettier than a 20-dollar whore.”

8. Sheriff Bart’s (Cleavon Little) bait to lure two KKK thugs behind a rock.

7. The story of how The Waco Kid (Gene Wilder) became a drunk (“little bastard shot me in the ass”).

6. The campfire bean chowdown/fart-a-thon.

5. Everything Gabby Johnson (Jack Starrett) mumbles.

4. None of Hedley’s henchmen see the idiocy of having a tollbooth in the middle of the desert (“somebody’s gotta go back and get a shitload of dimes”).

3. The way the whole film reveals the racism inherent in Westerns (Brooks would hate that kind of lit-theory babble, though).

2. Sheriff Bart’s “introduction” to the Town of Rock Ridge: the hold-up.

1. Taggart detailing the intricacies of what it means to “work up a no. 6” on anyone. (If anyone invites you to a No. 6 dance, turn him down.)

*Synopsis: Corrupt politician Hedley Lamarr, in an effort to wrest land from the Town of Rock Ridge, convinces the governor to appoint a black sheriff, Bart, to the all-white town, and infuriate the residents. Bart finds an ally in the washed-up, drunk Waco Kid, and they fend off Hedley and his sidekick, Taggart’s, increasing efforts to snatch their town from under them.

17 Responses

  1. Someone beat you to #19

    One of the people in my dorm used that for their Rock Band band name.

  2. After commenting about this the other day I saw the Blu Ray of this dirt cheap at the weekend. Hoping to get the review up in the next week or so.

    It’s pretty much impossible to recommend this film enough, even though I’ve never really liked the ending.

    Are we awake?
    We’re not sure, are we black?
    Yes, we are…

  3. Food makes me sick

    • @ Fitz — I always wanted to marry someone who used that as a band name. But I seem to keep ending up with guys only to find out they think the movie is “offensive.” Cactus heads.

      @ PFR — No one seems to like the ending, and I’ve heard plenty of people remark that it’s “not appropriate.” I’d argue that it’s totally appropriate. How can you cap off the madness that is “Blazing Saddles” with a “fitting ending”? The one Brooks gives us is wildly nonsensical, but so is the rest of the movie.

      @ McG — Good thing he wasn’t a drunk in his earlier days, or he wouldn’t recall killing more men than Cecil B. DeMille.

  4. “Land: see Snatch.” Oh, that one cracked me up when I read it here on your list. I’m still suffering from giggling trembles.
    I also like:
    Waco Kid, “Play Chess, screw.”
    Sheriff Bart, “Let’s play chess.”
    A classic movie without a doubt, and the ending IS perfect. It is perfectly ridiculous, but what else would you expect from a movie that hangs a man and his horse?

  5. I’ve been trying to see this one for awhile now. I happened to be at the library and it was there so I picked it up and it didn’t work.

    Two weeks later I was in HMV and there it was for 6 bucks. I still haven’t watched it yet but it is literally sitting on my coffee table waiting for me.

  6. It cannot be stressed enough how much I love this movie. Honestly, how does this not win Best Picture? I really mean that.

    • @ Unruly — You and I have a similar sense of humor, I see. I always cracked up at “Land: see ‘Snatch’” when it whizzed right by other people. I also love the “play chess, screw” bit. And you reminded me about the Hangman! I love that dude!

      @ Film Reel — Stop whatever you are doing right now and go watch it. Trust me. You have to see it. You must, you must.

      @ CC — “Holy Grail” didn’t win the Best Picture Oscar, either. No respect. Comedies get no respect.

  7. Ah yes, M. Carter, I think if we had grown up in the vicinity of each other we would have been best friends, but alas we are relegated to just being internet friends, which is cool, but not nearly as cool as being real life friends :-).
    PS–“You said rape twice.”…”I like rape.”

  8. Easily my favorite part is Dom DeLuise and “The French Mistake.”
    – “CUT!!!! Wrong!!! It’s so simple … playback! Ready, watch … me … f*****s!”
    I mean, you can’t get away with that stuff now!

    Equally hilarious though is the KKK trap.
    -“Yoohoo, boys!”
    -“Where the white women at?!”

    • @ Unrulytravller — The next time I’m in the Czech Republic, expect a surprise visit … and I just realized how dumb that statement was. How can you “expect” a “surprise”? Guff.

      @ Marshall — I’m amazed he got away with it THEN! Somewhere after no. 34 comes the part where the performers all say “yesssssss” and Dom says, “It sounds like steam escaping.” Then he tells them to “watch me, you sissy maries.” Good times.

  9. “You will be risking your lives while I, Hedley Lamarr, will be risking an almost certain Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.”

  10. There is so many times that this film is quoted and totally duplicated in many comedies today.

  11. “Student.”
    “Give me a break.”
    “Pain in the ass…”

    “Look hunny, I’m standing in Heady Lamar’s footprints!”
    “That’s HEADLY!”

    This movie makes me laugh so hard I cry.

  12. […] “Blazing Saddles (1974) — There’s a certain joy that comes with watching movies your parents don’t know you’re watching that makes a kid feel invincible. And so it was with “Blazing Saddles,” which I caught on cable a few times before my parents introduced me (officially) to the wacko freaky genius that is Mel Brooks. The “too much beans” scene alone could send a malleable young soul into hysterics; throw in the sight gags and the pratfalls, the endlessly quotable dialogue and the outrageous characters (like the hypersexed Teutonic Titwillow, or the mumblingly moronic Gov. William J. Lepetomane) and you’ve got yourself a classic even an preteen can appreciate. […]

  13. […] B is for “Blazing Saddles” […]

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