Sunday, April 16, 2006

Blazing Saddles


Dir: Mel Brooks (Young Frankenstein, Spaceballs)

It was Josh's choice, and who am I to deny a young man's wish. He was curious as to what all the fuss was about, you know, that movie Marcus and Ron always quote. And what a quotable film it is; witty dialogue and superb comedic timing makes this Mel Brooks' send up of the Western one of the most enjoyable and timeless parodies in American cinema (yet another film to suggest the 1970s as the pinnacle of Hollywood). The Oscars don't always get it right, but a comedy, especially a farcical comedy, that gets three Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Supporting Actress-Madeline Kahn, in a year of excellent films, can not be all that bad. The film is full of quality comedic performances, notably Wilder and Kahn (it's ta-woo, it's ta-woo) shine as virtuosos of their humorous craft.

Marcus argues, and rightfully so, that Blazing Saddles is one of the most scathing indictments of racism. The absurdity of racist thought is in full display as the dazzling young urbanite, Sheriff Bart (Cleavon Little), finds himself in the rustic setting of Rock Ridge, attempting to stave off Hedy, sorry, Hedley Lemarr's fiendish plot to run a railroad through the town of morons, who don't want the Irish. Brooks masterfully balances physical comedy and silly generic parody with insight cultural references and scatological humor...may high-browed humor be damned.

For all that I love about Blazing Saddles, I have never been too keen on the ending. Although Brooks has a penchant for breaking the Fourth Wall for comedic effect (and to some degree offer a Brechtian criticism), I find the ending a tadbit lazy. I understand that exposing the facade of Hollywood (and the Western) and the artificiality of stereotypes has critical merit, the absurdity of the ending becomes such a self-parody that some of that criticism becomes lost.

Wait, did I just say something negative about Blazing Saddles. Sorry, I take it all back. We all need to give the film a harrumph.


Blogger paroske noted on 4/17/2006 03:42:00 PM that...

All right, I'll spot you the ending. So many comedies fizzle out at the end (South Park the Movie and Duck Soup, for instance). Assuming the script is written roughly in order, then putting all your funny into the first hour sets the bar too high. That, BTW, is why I think Catch-22 may be the best book ever written. It actually gets funnier as it goes on.

So, what did Josh think? Or am I going to lose all respect for the young man?


Blogger ronvon2 noted on 4/17/2006 05:39:00 PM that...

Respect can be maintained. Great humor gracefully crosses all generations.