Blazing Saddles, the 40th Anniversary edition, marks more than the return of Mel Brooks’s incredibly successful Western farce—it reflects the changes the U.S. has seen since the movie’s 1974 bow.
The release is well timed, as Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West has inspired some to seek out Brooks’s Comedy Western.
In a new interview, Brooks talks openly about how his wild lampoon of racism could never be made in today’s “politically correct” atmosphere, saying studio heads would have been terrified of the film and its message. Brooks couldn’t be more right, and watching the film in this incredibly beautiful transfer only highlights his points.
Blazing Saddles is the tale of how Black Bart (Cleavon Little) becomes the sheriff of Rock Ridge, befriends timid outlaw Waco Kid (Gene Wilder) and takes on the town’s wildly racist attitudes and its sneering villain (Harvey Korman).
But so much more is going on here than Brooks’s belly laughs, if we want to see it. The language, the situation and the points that Brooks makes with his film still rattle our cages, as they should.
Maybe you have to have a certain number of candles on your birthday cake to get every Western movie reference, like the townsfolk’s stunning reaction to “Randolph Scott,” but the movie’s greatest laughs are universal.
Silly and outrageous, with a true human core, Blazing Saddles is what Brooks calls his greatest achievement. The Western is prime Brooks, and it has never been better presented than in this 40th anniversary release.