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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.