A childhood favourite. What do you mean this isn’t made for childhoods? I’d stick the VHS on once a week and me and my friends would know all the words. ‘My name is Jim, but most people call me… Jim.’ Then I decided it would be the perfect for the Summer class video at school. But most couldn’t get past the grand Western front opening. Such a shame, I knew from that moment I’d never fit in anywhere. Blazing Saddles taught me a lot outside of the racial acceptance plot. And the fact that beans make you fart. A lot.
It has been a long time since I would stick this film on regularly, it didn’t help the VHS was phased out of the house. The tale of an evil state attorney, Hedley Lamarr, trying to run the people from a town so they can put their rail tracks through is one used a million and twenty-six times in Westerns, and the simple clichéd plot works well with the racial story they have going on. When the people of Rock Ridge call out for a new sheriff after the last one was disposed of by the thugs under Hedley’s command, he appoints the first black sheriff of the west to scare them all off. Unfortunately Bart has plans to win them all over and working with the fastest gunslinger Jim, he does just that. It’s a simple tired story even back then, but the absurdities and gags are what make Blazing Saddles a fondly remembered classic.
And not every joke makes it through to 2012 intact. The film relies on insulting Bart due to his skin tone which still works today, due to how stupid it makes the other characters look. The Looney Tune style slap stick also works, but fart jokes don’t really do it for me anymore. Nor do idiot thugs getting emotional over loud noises, these are jokes which feel a bit outdated though the racial jokes are still fresh in today’s world due to how little they’ve been centre stage in cinema. The whole scene involving Hedley recruiting the most evil doers in the west is brilliant, as are the bizarre time line breaking references to famous people. While some jokes stopped being funny, with age I’ve found new gags to laugh at. ‘I must have killed more people than Cecil B. DeMille.’
In the 30th anniversary DVD I also stumbled upon the pilot episode called Black Bart. It has less funny versions of all the film characters getting all silly in the wild west, and the best jokes are the recycled ones the film pushed forward with great gusto. Though there was an added Indian Sidekick this time. How.