I’m still surprised how early I was allowed to see “Blazing Saddles.”
So, one weekend every summer, my mom went off to a woman’s retreat, leaving us home alone with dad. We lived on eggs, cereal, hot dogs, and Ramen Noodles.
Now, dad was a little more lenient than mom when it came to TV and movie viewership. We (me and my big sister and little brother) knew that. Did we take advantage?
A few weeks prior to my mom leaving for her retreat, I remembered walking through the living room and observing my parents laughing at what they were watching, until they noticed me.
Mom: “This isn’t for you to see.”
Me: “What is it?”
Dad: “A Funny movie.”
Mom: “It’s for adults.”
Me: “What’s the name of it?”
Dad: “Blazing Saddles.”
Game over. I had a title. I knew mom was leaving. It was a matter of time before I talked my dad into letting me watch it. It wasn’t hard.
Me: “Dad, can we watch ‘Blazing Saddles‘ with you?”
Dad: “Sure….don’t tell your mother.”
Did I get all of the jokes? Hell no. But I had a dad that was more than happy to explain them to me.
I always thought my dad was an impatient man, and he was about certain things. He was very impatient with my ability to complete chores. That was my major interaction with my dad, so I, of course, always felt that he was an impatient, short tempered man. Looking back, there are plenty of moments where he displayed patience regularly. Watching movies with the kids is one of them.
Me: “Dad? What’s a shitkicker?”
Dad: (giggles) “It’s a mean name for a cowboy.”
That was most of the movie. Luckily dad had seen it enough to humor us throughout the viewing. Listening to my dad laugh along with us was like hearing The Beatles for the first time. It was something new and wonderful and you didn’t want the song to end on the radio. I have mentioned before that my dad was not one for laughter often. A trait that I have inherited from him. Watching “Blazing Saddles” with him was like listening to 5 of The Beatles greatest hits in a row on the radio.
My dad loved the ability to “pause” tapes. He grew up without a VCR and never had a chance to “stop” the things he was viewing. It seemed like we were giving him a chance to control the world when we had a question and he could grab the remote, click “pause,” and explain a scene to us. He enjoyed it, and he was good at it. This happened every time we watched some dialogue we didn’t understand and dad had a huge laugh.
I remember laughing at the funny faces, sounds, and slapstick of “Blazing Saddles” when I was younger. Viewing it as I grew, I started laughing at the scenes my dad laughed at.
What an amazing movie. The courage to take on a film like this deserves accolades itself. No way could this movie be made in this day and age of political correctness. Is that a good thing? Probably. Am I thankful this movie got made? Yeppers.
Mel Brooks to me, is the godfather of Farcical Comedy, without a lot of competition. He makes films that can make a child laugh for the reasons I mentioned above and have the wit to keep an adult’s attention with clever writing, and satire that strikes true. That is not an easy thing to do and he will never get the artistic credit that he deserves. It’s a shame that comedies–aren’t taken more seriously????
What the hell do I know?
I know three things in retrospect watching “Blazing Saddles” over 5 times over the years: 1) Richard Pryor is one of the greatest comedic writers of all time 2) Adults enjoy the layers of wit that occurs in the dialogue of EVERY Mel Brooks movie 3) Campfire farting scenes will always make any person laugh-out-loud.
Basically, the film is about a greedy railroad entrepreneur that cannot get a town to yield their land. They try to strong arm them, but that does not work. They send in a black sheriff to help them, with the idea that it will cause internal strife so that they will destroy themselves from the inside out. Shenanigans ensue on many, many, many, different levels–including breaking the “5th wall,” in which they fight into another Hollywood set of a musical production.
The cast is amazing:
the underrated and amazing Harvey Korman,
and a short/hilarious performance by Dom Deluise.
Reading through the quotes to pick one for this post was a mild joy. I laughed reading them, visualizing the scenes again in my head. Rarely can a movie do that and it is pure exuberance when that can happen.
What people need to understand before they watch this movie is that it is a total satire-farce on every level and is never supposed to be taken seriously. This is not a film for the easily offended, but for the person that can think about what the writers are trying to say between the lines…and snicker with them.