a/perture Cinema, AFI, Alex Karras, Amazon Prime, Blazing Saddles, Clevon Little, DVD.com, Gene Wilder, Harvey Korman, IMDb, Madeline Kahn, Mel Brooks, Netflix, Rotten Tomatoes, Slim Pickens, The Less Desirables, WSNC
Per IMDb: “To ruin a western town, a corrupt political boss appoints a black sheriff, who promptly becomes his most formidable adversary.”
I rearranged my viewing schedule to get this one in since it is one of my three favorite Gene Wilder films and I had just been saying I wanted to watch it again. Rest well, Waco Kid, rest well.
Quicksand threatens the construction path of the new railroad in the wild west. Oppressive rail bosses toward the black workers gets worse as time goes on. One, Bart (Little), goes so far as to whack the foreman, Taggart (Slim Pickens), in the head with a shovel. He talks the corrupt State Attorney
General, Hedley Lamarr (Korman) into hanging Bart, but a scheduling conflict keeps that from happening until a few days later. Because the railroad will have to reroute to avoid the quicksand, they have to convince the citizens of the small town of Rock Ridge to leave, as to gain that land for the rerouting.
Lamarr sends Taggart and other thugs into town to shoot the Sheriff and scare the townspeople away. That doesn’t work, as the townsfolk petition Governor William J. Le Petomane (Mel Brooks) send a new sheriff. Lamarr talks the governor into appointing Bart, thinking that a black sheriff will send the town into a tizzy and open the door for him to take over. He was right about one thing, the townspeople didn’t like that Bart was black.
With the assistance of washed-up and recovering alcoholic gunslinger Jim, the Waco Kid (Wilder), Bart works his arse off to overcome the townspeople’s hostile reception, most of which are named Johnson. Taggart and compay send Mongo (Alex Karras), a brutish, dim, but philosophical henchman, to kill Bart but he outsmarts the big oaf. Bart then out seduces German seductress-for-hire Lili von Shtupp (Madeline Kahn). At wits end, Lamarr schemes a larger plan involving a recruited army of ruffians, including run-of-the-mill criminals, the Klan, and Nazi soldiers, which I’m mostly sure the latter two didn’t really exist at the time. Did Lamarr get the town to move? Did Bart and Jim outsmart the gangs? You’ll have to watch to find out.
In what could, at first glance, be one of the most blatantly racist films ever made, Mel Brooks, who is Jewish, holds back nothing to make fun of everyone: black folks, Jewish folks and especially white folks. You realize that’s what’s actually happening later in the film. In the beginning, the first time I saw it, anyway, I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Once you understand they’re making fun, it’s a lot easier to enjoy.
I’m starting to wonder if we’re not seeing some of this seemingly outlandish behavior from people today reappear with the advent of social media and the erasing of boundaries and couth? It’s one thing to feel a certain way and it’s also another certain way to have the First Amendment to express that certain way, but there seems to be an unleashing of bigotry and hate where every day idiots who used to be hidden in their own circle of friends are coming out of the woodwork with no repercussions in sight. Spout your hate, you’ve that right, but know that you’ll be made fun of. At least that part is fun. Okay, soapbox back under the proverbial bed. but, the film, I think gives great social commentary.
It’s one visual, fart and corny joke after another and it shows Brooks’ genius and how good actors Little, Wilder and Korman, as well as the all-star supporting cast, really was. You may ask why I picked this one over Young Frankenstein or Willy Wonka, especially since Gene Wilder was more a supporting actor and not the lead role? Well, there’s only one answer: I wanted to watch this one. That’s not to say that the other two I mentioned won’t make it in the next few weeks. Doesn’t mean they will, just where the notion hits me. It’s not available for streaming on Netflix but is available via DVD.com. Also, it is available for rent on Amazon Prime.
Rotten Tomatoes has it at 90% Fresh with an Audience Score of 91%. IMDb rates it 7.8 stars out of 10. It was nominated for both the 1998 and 2007 versions of the AFI‘s 100 Years… 100 Movies lists. It was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Madeline Kahn, Best Film Editing, and Best Music, Original Song; winning none. The film has a special place in my heart because it was the very first DVD I ever owned. I bought the DVD player and that film at the same time. I was amazed by the fact you could watch the film and hear the commentary. That was revolutionary stuff. I highly recommend this film and rate it 5 stars out of 5. Have you seen it? Do you agree? What would you like to see or hear me rate in the future?
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“Excuse me while I whip this out. “ – Bart