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Episode #89: BLAZING SADDLES

  

126 members have voted

  1. 1. Is BLAZING SADDLES Canon?

    • Yes!
      120
    • What in the wide wide world of sports is going on here?
      6


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Blazing Saddles is very very funny. The acting is particularly amazing. I love Blazing Saddles. I love Mel Brooks.

 

But Blazing Saddles has no cinematic innovation or lasting societal or humane value. It's a meta anachronism -- a satire about cinema itself in its time, particularly cinema's extremely troubling racist tendencies. It's outstanding at doing that, but I have a list of thousands of films I will share with my kids before we get to this one. One we've already put a check mark next to is Young Frankenstein.

 

Blazing Saddles? No.

 

Django Unchained is a much better example of an innovative and lasting film that plays genre against its own trappings to make a larger point.

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neilcronin, Django is all of four years old. Describing it as a "lasting" film seems silly, unless you own a time machine. Blazing Saddles is still considered a classic after more than forty years, is still relevant and still hilarious. Easy yes for me.

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I'm not as enamoured with madeline Khan's performance/character as everyone else- but yes, this is a terrific film.

 

I grew up with Brooks's films, and Blazing Saddles is probably his best. It's an easy yes.

 

Also, Amy, I found the screenwriter's girlfriend you were describing, and let me send a "fuck her" of solidarity your way--though, I'm mostly disappointed in said screenwriter.

This mystery screenwriter! Any hints you can drop?

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I voted yes - though I haven't seen the film in a while I know it is Canon™ worthy.

 

Young Frankenstein was always my favorite Brooks, but my girlfriend prefers Blazing Saddles. My theory for these preferences (not that there must be deeper a deeper cause) is that she grew up watching TV westerns, and I grew up watching classic horror films.

But maybe I am just trying to justify my soft spot for Dracula Dead & Loving It...

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The "Could You Make Blazing Saddles Today" conversation is perhaps the only omnipresent movie conversation more inane than "superhero fatigue," especially with Tarantino making a spiritual successor in Django Unchained so recently, with The Cleveland Show having just run four seasons. It's the worst conversation you can have about movies. Even the TRAILER for Chris Rock's Top Five is more transgressive than this movie; but, of course, people say you "can't make this movie" when you mean "white people don't make these movies," as though Chi-Raq and Dear White People aren't just in our rearview.

 

HOWEVER.

 

Nobody makes movies like Mel Brooks did anymore. There's a flippancy to the comedy that makes it feel broader than it is, and he does include jokes that ultimately lead to some nine year olds watching a movie where someone mouths "motherfucker." Woody Allen used to kind of make movies like this, too, when he was more Love and Death and Bananas and less Manhattan. Blazing Saddles is Brooks at his most dramatically satisfying, meaning those who don't find it that funny (myself included) will still enjoy it just fine. I am happy to elect Blazing Saddles as the representative of this kind of comedy, as I think it goes beyond the later Airplane! model of constant punchlines and expands the role of this sort of comedy more than any other I can think to mention.

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Blazing Saddles is very very funny. The acting is particularly amazing. I love Blazing Saddles. I love Mel Brooks.

 

But Blazing Saddles has no cinematic innovation or lasting societal or humane value. It's a meta anachronism -- a satire about cinema itself in its time, particularly cinema's extremely troubling racist tendencies. It's outstanding at doing that, but I have a list of thousands of films I will share with my kids before we get to this one. One we've already put a check mark next to is Young Frankenstein.

 

 

I think it has extreme lasting societal value. I don't think the movie is satirizing racism in film. It's using film to satirize an aspect of racist culture. The underlying message of blazing saddles is that these prejudices exist outside the construct of old Hollywood and westerns, its addressing the audience directly in the real world.

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The "Could You Make Blazing Saddles Today" conversation is perhaps the only omnipresent movie conversation more inane than "superhero fatigue," especially with Tarantino making a spiritual successor in Django Unchained so recently, with The Cleveland Show having just run four seasons. It's the worst conversation you can have about movies. Even the TRAILER for Chris Rock's Top Five is more transgressive than this movie

 

I think the focus of this modern argument about what's appropriate for movies now is less about being transgressive and more about being triggering (which is a word I hate using because it sounds patronizing and like I'm judging people's legitimate and valid experiences but the cultural word nonetheless). I have friends who are proud of the fact that they've been the driving force of having insensitive objects removed from galleries, museums and, restaurants. Its hard water to tread because obviously calling out racist, sexist or any other "-ist" bull shit is a good thing but, I do think there needs to be a space for art to experiment with the line of offense even if it means occasionally crossing it. Dear White People and Chi-Raq are phenomenal movies and Chi-Raq in particular I think surpasses Blazing Saddles with the raw emotion of its message but, I think the majority of filmmakers are unwilling to pursue topics they perceive as risky or controversial and yes that's mostly means straight white people, dudes in particular but, I don't think that white people shying away from the topic of race can be brushed off so lightly as it as an issue that affects all of us. Inequality is a conversation for every demographic. We shouldn't remove controversy from our discourse we should embrace it and acknowledge it, in all its ugliness because whether we like it or not it's there under the surface anyway.

 

Sorry that's so rambly it's just been kicking around in my head a lot lately and this movie really is my baseline for how I react to a lot of modern comedy and satire.

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neilcronin, Django is all of four years old. Describing it as a "lasting" film seems silly, unless you own a time machine. Blazing Saddles is still considered a classic after more than forty years, is still relevant and still hilarious. Easy yes for me.

 

I was referring to the themes of Django, not the end-result. You are correct that we cannot know if Django is a film for posterity, but I think it's safe to say that Django deals with much more humane and higher-level themes than Blazing Saddles attempts. That's not a dig on Blazing Saddles.

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Like I said in the homework thread: About twice a year, I go to youtube and watch Madeline Kahn singing I'm Tired. It enhances my life.

 

My dad was the biggest Mel Brooks fan. When I was in college, I took him to a revival house to see this with me. He had seen i it many times before, but it was my first time.

 

I think Amy has a point about Charlize Theron. I haven't seen the movie Amy was talking about, and I'm not a fan of Charlize's serious movies, But she played her part perfectly in Season 3 of Arrested Development. And I thought Young Adult was memorable and ballsy.

 

(I voted yes, because Madeline Kahn and Gene Wilder, etc. But I don't agree the end of the movie is great -- Maybe the first time, but I think the movie loses steam at the end and when I watch it, I tend to turn it off before the end.)

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I'm older than many/all of you. Plus I love truly old movies from before my time. I think about this fairly often, about how some things are dated and whether it matters to me. Most of the time, I recognize the issue and ignore it. This is often true when it comes to issues involving women and their roles. For example, the Philadelphia Story is one of my favorite movies and I worship Jimmy Stewart in that movie. But it's a bit painful how Katherine Hepburn's father talks to her in that movie --blaming her for his affair. In All About Eve, I have to ignore that Betty Davis's character basically disappears when she decides to get married. When I was first getting into classic movies, people raved about The Women. That's the movie I can't even tolerate, no matter how many excellent actresses are in the movie.

 

Then there's alcoholism. The version of Arthur starring Dudley Moore was very, very funny when it was released. Believe me. I watched it within the last year and still enjoyed it but I cringed a little inside. When I was a kid, I thought drunks were funny but we're not supposed to laugh at them anymore.

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I think Amy has a point about Charlize Theron. I haven't seen the movie Amy was talking about, and I'm not a fan of Charlize's serious movies, But she played her part perfectly in Season 3 of Arrested Development. And I thought Young Adult was memorable and ballsy.

 

Rita coooorny, Michael.

 

r284mh.jpg

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I feel like part of growing up meant that while my heart will always belong to Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles is Brooks' best and most important work. I only like this more and more as I age.

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YES. And despite Amy's incessant political discussion, this was a good discussion to listen to. The saddest thing about putting BLAZING SADDLES in The Canon is that a movie like that couldn't be released today. (Although one could argue that TV's animated satires like THE SIMPSONS, BOJACK HORSEMAN and some of the Adult Swim shows have picked up the slack.)

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I don't think Amy was talking incessantly, I think this movie has a lot of relevance to modern politics and she was commenting on that.

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Along with my easy "YES" I will also add myself to the "watched this with my dad" group (although I wonder if I'm the first girl in that group? I'll have to go back and look.) This is one of two movies my dad insisted my brother and I sit down and watch when we were old enough (so like, 10, I think). The other was Monty Python and the Holy Grail, so I was happy to hear Devon mention both movies in the podcast.

 

 

I think growing up, all of our dads made us watch Blazing Saddles, Holy Grail and Airplane!, which is why we now comment on Earwolf message boards...

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As someone who grew up on Mel Brooks' films, the titles that claim the top spot on my list of favorites have shifted frequently. For years it was THE PRODUCERS. I think YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN is his most technically proficient film, which could be mistaken as a legitimate Universal Monsters film if you took out the jokes, but for the last several years, BLAZING SADDLES has secured the top spot. I love the range of humor it has, from immature, Looney Tunes style gags to truly subversive and shocking moments. I could go on for hours, and likely would wind up repeating much of what you already covered in the episode, but I think my absolute favorite joke in the film is when Bart and The Waco Kid go into Mann's Chinese Theater to watch the end of the movie. Gene Wilder is holding a bucket of popcorn, and when we see his character back onscreen within the film, he's still holding the popcorn. It's just a bizarrely silly moment that gets absolutely no acknowledgement from the film and floors me every time. I almost feel like the film wouldn't be as strong if it didn't literally break the fourth wall at the end and spill into modern day. I love your thoughts about it being commentary of how racism doesn't change at all over a hundred years later. Anyways, this is absolutely Canon-Worthy, and on a side note to Amy, I actually really like A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST too. No apologies needed for that one.

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Definitely a "yes" for me. I watched it again last night for the first time in years and was laughing out loud at many parts. Some of the humor is a little dated, but that's what makes it of its time and still enjoyable. If a 40 year old comedy...hell, if a 3 year old comedy can still make a person laugh after time has passed, that's a beautiful thing. Add to that how daring the film still feels today, that just tops it off as a sure "in" for me.

 

It was a brief point, but I thought it was interesting as far as Mel Brooks' gay jokes at the end of the film. Devin implies that they're not mean or from a place of belittling, and I agree. Growing up watching these films, my best friend (who is gay) laughed the hardest at that final scene from "Blazing Saddles" and loved Bearnaise from "History of the World: Part 1". The over-reactive branch of the left always seem to forget that the people they are "offended for" actually do have a sense of humor. I suppose it's a fine line between having fun or gently poking fun and mean humor that comes from "gay-fear", but a genius like Mel Brooks has the ability to navigate those waters beautifully. [yeah, I'll mix metaphors...always]

 

As far as younger viewers, I wish they could see this in a crowded theater. Comedy seems to work best that way, but I imagine that this film now, more than ever, would be a delight to see with an audience. I think older comedies where some of the humor may be dated benefit from viewings with large audiences with mixed age ranges***. (***except for Monty Python, where you have to resist strangling people sitting around who are reciting the movie line-for-line, usually 0.5 seconds before the actors on screen.)

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Easy yes. I don't know if you ever "could" make a race comedy like this. Doing it today would take the right vision from a VERY rare talent. That's what Mel Brooks is to this day, but he's decided to spend his time watching movies and eating off of tv trays with Carl Reiner.

 

brooksreiner.jpg

 

Much wiser use of his time I think.

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At this point of the love-in I might as well post my favourite clip:

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Yes, definitely. Like Devin, it's easily in my top 5 comedies all time.

 

One note for Amy on that story about Willy Wonka and snozzberries: It's not quite an urban myth - Dahl did use the word to mean penis - but it's not quite what it's often made out to be either. Dahl wrote that in the book My Uncle Oswald in 1979, well after Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and probably more importantly well after the Willy Wonka movie. Maybe he had that meaning in his head when he wrote Charlie, but I think it was more likely a reaction to the success of the movie, which he didn't like much, and how often he was probably asked what a snozzberry was. I always took it as his way of thumbing his nose at the film. Of course that's just my guess

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So I voted no in the poll. I found This movie clever at points. I thought the argument about how crude it is rings legitimate but for me I need to find a comedy funny to get behind it. I didn't, and just for context about me Young Frankenstein is my favorite comedy of all time so my no vote isn't a result of me being 22.

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lol amy has the most boring politics imaginable. "tim kaine is a cool dad" jesus. anyway great movie obviously blah blah blah

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How does this film play outside of America? I'm curious since the American construct of race is very specific, and while we're (I'm asking as an American so I don't know) such a big cultural exporter I'm not sure how people don't don't grow up as a part of it react to some of the shock jokes. Does it translate to other forms of oppression? I mean, I'm not saying it's not canon worthy if it doesn't work outside American but it would be an interesting measure of how well it communicates it's point. It's certainly builds it's world and rules enough I could see someone getting it as a mostly self contained piece.

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It's being reported that Gene Wilder died today, at 83 years old. In pace requiescat. Hope he's having a laugh with Gilda somewhere.

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