Directed by Mel Brooks
As part of a plot to clear out a town to put a railroad through, a corrupt politician appoints a black man as sheriff of the all-white western town of Rock Ridge.
Sheriff Bart was a signature role for Cleavon Little. And deservedly so. His work here was absolutely brilliant. Little knew just how silly to be with the material at the moment and when to get slightly more serious. He was a very good actor. To see the full breadth of his range, pick up the film Vanishing Point. It is not a comedy, but he has an important role in it and it’s worth a watch just to see how far his range extended. From drama to comedy he could do it all.
Gene Wilder was just inspired as The Waco Kid. Originally this role was to go to John Wayne and while I do you love John Wayne and he was the king of the western it just would not have been the same film with him. You could not have done the same jokes with him as you could with Wilder. And if you had tried, they just would not have been as funny if they had been funny at all.
Harvey Korman just nailed the role of Hedley Lamarr. He was a frequent Mel Brooks collaborator and a genuinely funny comedic actor. The man could always deliver.
We even get a femme fatale in the form of Lili von Shtüpp. I admit to a bit of a celebrity crush here on Madeline Kahn. This woman was beautiful as well as a gifted comedic actress. Here she does a great ridiculous seductress.
Mel Brooks as is usual in his movies has a couple of random background roles. He is a comedic Alfred Hitchcock. Here he is a Yiddish speaking Native American. He is also the clueless Gov. William J. Le Petomane that Lamarr tricks into assigning Sheriff Bart to the town of Rock Ridge.
This is a classic comedy. This is a parody of the western genre. This is also a movie that couldn’t be made today. It made fun of everyone and everything. There was nothing you could not touch in this movie. There were no sacred cows. They made fun of racists and stereotypes and anything else that they could think of. No joke was too silly or out of bounds. And there are just so many jokes in it that it will take you years to catch them all.
This was a film with filled with some genuinely funny gags. One of the most inspired scenes in this movie is Bart when encountering the towns racism decides to kidnap himself. This is a very idiotic scene that could only have worked at the hands of Mel Brooks. And it works amazingly well here.
There was just classic scene after classic scene in this movie. The Candy Gram delivery. Mongo (Alex Karras) being philosophical. The farts at the campfire. There are just too many to name.
The ending is a classic comedy film ending. The fight in the film breaks the fourth wall and spills over into the real world and things just get blurred and ever increasingly insane. It is legendary. It goes from the studio back lot to outside of Grauman‘s Chinese theater. And then the two main characters check out the ending of Blazing Saddles in the theater! I think stuff like that is called “meta” these days.
This was a movie that made fun of everybody. We were all asked here to laugh together at ourselves and the flaws of humanity. We could use more films like that. We need to laugh at the stereotypes and just get together and make fun of each other in a friendly way like this movie did.
The movie is 46 years old and still as funny today as the day it was released. Mel Brooks is a comedic treasure and he shows it here. This film is a great western and a comedy classic.