He rode a blazing saddle, He wore a shining star, His job, to offer battle To bad men near and far! He conquered fear, and he conquered hate, He turned dark night into day... He made his blazing saddle, A torch to light the way!
Blazing Saddles is another comedy masterpiece from Mel Brooks (with writing help from none other than Richard Pryor) which mercilessly spoofs The Western.Railroad construction runs into quicksand, and the path needs re-routing — but the tiny town of Rock Ridge stands in the way of progress. State Attorney General H̶e̶d̶y̶ Hedley Lamarr schemes to get his hands on the now-priceless real estate by hiring thugs to kill the sheriff and terrify the locals into leaving. When they don't leave, Lamarr appoints a black man named Bart — awaiting a death sentence for striking a white man — as the new sheriff, a move calculated to result in Bart being killed by the racist townspeople and said townspeople leaving in disgust (which would give Lamarr free rein over the land). Once Bart arrives in Rock Ridge, Hilarity Ensues.Blazing Saddles is completely, offensively, and unapologetically politically incorrect — and it also skewers damn near every western trope listed on this site (and likely a few we haven't thought of yet). Instead of making a movie saying "racism is bad", Brooks decided to make a movie where all the racists are idiots - a similar philosophy he used when dealing with the Nazis in his movies.
As You Know: "I don't have to tell you people what has been happening to our beloved town..."
Attack Pattern Alpha: With regards at to what to do to Rock Ridge, Taggart gets a Eureka Moment and decides they'll whip up a Number 6 on them, which is that the men go riding into town, a-whomping and woomping every living thing to within an inch of its life, except the women folk (whom they will later rape the shit out of at the subsequent Number 6 dance).
Bait and Switch: "Excuse me while I whip this out." (Bart proceeds to reach for a speech letter in his pocket, while the townsfolk gasp and cower in fear, thinking he's going to whip something else out instead). Then they all go "awwww..."
Bar Slide: During the battle in the Warner Bros. commissary, Taggart is knocked out and slides down the buffet counter, where the cashier rings him up for the food splattered all over him.
Batman Gambit: Hedley tries to exploit the fear and racism of the townsfolk of Rock Ridge by sending them a black sheriff, and it almost works. (The only reason why it doesn't work is that "They are so dumb!")
Beam Me Up, Scotty!: "We don't need no stinking badges!" was actually in this movie. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre had the longer "Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges!" invoked
Biggus Dickus: Bart, as discovered by Lili von Shtupp. In the original version of the scene, it was supposed to be mistaken with his elbow.
Bilingual Bonus: The Indian chief played by Mel Brooks has "Kosher for Passover" written in Hebrew on his headdress (but with the letters arranged in such a way as to translate as "Posher for Kassover").
At least 8 examples (9 if you count the end fight scene, where they break through the wall of the studio and continue the fight across several sets, culminating in Hedley Lamarr fleeing to Grauman's Chinese Theatre, and dying next to Douglas Fairbanks's footprints).
The final scene in the movie escalates directly to No Fourth Wall, in which The two main characters watch the end of their own movie together at the Chinese Theatre.
Brick Joke: At the Chinese Theater, a couple is looking at the actor and actresses' signatures in front of it.
Female touriset: Look, Irv. I'm in Hedy Lamarr's shoes!
Taggart saying "I'm working for Mel Brooks!" (writer/director), who also appears in the movie.
Hedley Lamarr, Sheriff Bart and the Waco Kid attending a premiere of the movie Blazing Saddles.
The famous Running Gag regarding Hedley Lamarr's name is lampshaded by the governor when he points out that it's 1874, meaning that "You'll be able to sue her!" Made even funnier by the fact that she did in fact sue Brooks.
Subverted. The governor thinks he's talking to Hedley, and gets out "Can't you see that man is a ni-" before realizing that he's talking to Bart. When he takes Hedley aside, he repeats the same statement - and it turns out he really was just saying "Can't you see that man is a ni."
When Bart rides into Rock Ridge and their lookout is trying to tell the townsfolk that the sheriff is a n-*DONG!*, only to be drowned out by the church bells.
The Waco Kid: What did you expect? "Welcome, sonny"? "Make yourself at home"? "Marry my daughter"? You've got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know... morons.
Deliberate Values Dissonance: The constant and blatant racism from everyone but the two leads. Perhaps most dissonant is the sudden racism the townsfolk display toward the Irish, who are not seen as an abused minority in modern times (nor were they in the 1970s when the movie was first released).
Diner Brawl: A brawl between the Western characters and Hollywood actors spills into a back lot cafeteria.
Disproportionate Retribution: Hedley Lamarr shoots Taggart in the foot for using a stupid cliche, along with shooting one of his prospective henchmen for chewing gum and "not bringing enough for everybody".
Even Evil Has Standards: Hedley may be an evil, corrupt, heartless man who hires scum of the earth. But he has no tolerance when a robber comes to sign up, whilst chewing gum, and did not bring enough for everybody.
Lampshaded, as the ice cream parlor advertises that it has exactly one flavor. This is a reference to the (now nearly extinct) restaurant chain "Howard Johnson's", which proudly advertised "28 Flavors!". Had to start somewhere. See its folder in here.
Flash Back: Sheriff Bart's story about how his parents came out West in a covered wagon and dealt with hostile Indians.
Follow the Leader: According to film critic Dave Kehr, this was the first major motion picture to include a fart joke. That fact, assuming it's true, makes it the most influential comic film of all time.
Despite the foul language, no one says "fuck," which apparently would not have stood past the censors. However, when Lamarr exits the men's room during the Diner Brawl, he clearly mouths, "What the fuck?"
Lili von Shtupp's name. "Shtupp" is Yiddish for "fuck." Some TV broadcasts have blanked it out, amazingly.
Although it's never openly identified as one, Bart and Waco Kid are clearing sharing a reefer in the midst of amiable chatter.
Have a Gay Old Time: the film's use of racist language (particular the N-word) has made it a hot potato for many modern broadcasters, and with some modern viewers misunderstanding that the use of the word (in a film where Richard Pryor was one of the writers) was intended as an attack on racism, rather than an attempt to generate cheap laughs. As one of those behind the film's production states in the DVD featuette, Brooks intended the film to walk up to racism and punch it in the face. That said, the film is rarely broadcast unedited anymore.
Heel-Face Turn: Lili von Shtupp (Hedy ("That's Hedley!") Lamarr's henchwoman) and Mongo (Taggart's henchman).
Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: The villagers of Rock Ridge hold off Hedley's men... by installing a tollbooth. "Somebody's gotta go back and get a shitload of dimes!" Yes, absurd, as the booth is set up in the middle of a stretch of desert, but since Taggart thinks that his boss installed the thing, it actually makes sense that he doesn't go around.
Made all the more hilarious in that if you pay attention to the dialogue, the heroes (and at least one person from Rock Ridge) actually do say his name correctly, but always scenes in which Hedley Lamarr himself is not present.
No way anyone but Mel Brooks could have gotten away with half of the jokes in this movie.
It helped having Richard Pryor on board as co-writer. But Mel Brooks has confirmed that most of the n-word jokes came from himself and Richard Pryor was largely responsible for the character of Mongo.
It helps that those in the know are well aware that, much like Norman Lear's All in the Family, the use of the word (and other racial and sexual-preference epithets uttered by characters) was intended as a direct attack on racism by illustrating how stupid it is.
Pass Fail: The "one-drop rule" is inverted for laughs near the beginning of the film:
Bart (to Lyle): Sir, ah, he specifically requested two 'nig-gers'... well, to tell a family secret, my grandmother was Dutch!
Pie in the Face: The "Great Pie Fight" near the end. No-one is spared. Hedley Lamarr tries to avoid it by ducking back into a restroom. Someone pies him in there.
The Pigpen: Gabby Johnson; his breath is bad enough he can use it as a weapon.
Planet of Steves: All of the inhabitants of Rock Ridge have the last name Johnson.
Plot-Based Voice Cancellation: When Hedley Lamarr comes out of the bathroom during the giant brawl, you can see his lips form the words "what the fuck?" before he quietly retreats back into the washroom.
Plunger Detonator: Sheriff Bart tries to use one to detonate the explosives in the fake Rock Ridge and blow up the villains, but it doesn't work. The Waco Kid has to set them off with a shot from his revolver.
Proscenium Reveal: Zig-Zagged in the climax, where the action is somehow "real" even though it's shown to be happening on a Hollywood soundstage — and eventually most of the backlot — during the climactic Final Battle.
The farting scene was this at the time. That's the first time farting was depicted on the big screen and it was a big hit. Mel Brooks stated in the DVD commentary that cowboys drinking coffee and eating beans all the time would make the place quickly unlivable.
Road Sign Reversal: The re-edited-for-TV version includes a originally-cut scene like this, when Bart and the Waco Kid are being chased by the villains; the duo come to an arrow-sign mounted on a post, smack it so that it starts spinning in circles, and run on. The villains ride up, wait for the sign to finish spinning, and charge off in the indicated direction.
"NO, GODRUM DAGNABBIT! I SAID THE SHERIFF IS A N-*DONG!*
Done more often in televised versions. For example, censoring out the word 'shit' from the final line of the Ballad of Rock Ridge by having the organist mangle a chord. Since it's pretty obvious what they were going to say, this actually makes the movie funnier. In particular, in the televised versions of the farting scene, the farting was replaced with the horses neighing. Let me repeat that: they used a sound effects bleep on another sound effect.
Spit Take: The Waco Kid, after Sheriff Bart reads the note from Lili von Shtupp.
Spoonerism: "Sheriff murdered, crops burned, stores looted, people stampeded, and cattleraped." Although, considering the bandits in question...
Lamarr convinces the governor to appoint a random black man as Rock Ridge's new sheriff, in the hopes that the racist townspeople will be so demoralized that they give up and run off. He certainly wasn't counting on the sheriff actually helping them and winning them over.
The Trope Namer song is actually referenced slyly in the film, as a few bars of the song are played when we first see Lili von Shtupp's name.
Olson Johnson: What are we made of? Our fathers came across the prairies, fought Indians, fought drought, fought locusts, fought Dix. Remember when Richard Dix came in here and tried to take over this town?
Take That: Howard Johnson and his orange-roofed outhouse.
Tap on the Head: Bart to Taggart with a shovel after being left to die in quicksand.
Taggart: I want you to send a wire to the main office, and tell them I said-[Is hit hard on the head by a shovel]Owwww! "Send wire, head office, tell them I said 'OW!' Gotcha!"
Those Wacky Nazis: They first raise the wrong hands for the swear. Then they get drunk and start singing with Lili.
Title Theme Tune: Frankie Laine, who sings the film's opening song, was told the film was "a Western dealing with racism"; nobody told him the film was a comedy. After he gave an amazing performance, Mel Brooks couldn't bring himself to tell the truth. Brooks had set out to get the theme performed by "a Frankie Laine type," thinking he couldn't afford the real thing. Thank goodness he was mistaken!