Mel Brooks’ classic 1974 comedy Blazing Saddles, which is currently streaming on HBO Max, now comes with an introduction of the film that automatically plays before the movie starts. That intro is said to have been added to “ensure that the film was put into the proper social context.”
This is similar to what they previously did with Gone with the Wind after it was called out over its outdated and racist story and themes.
The new intro for Blazing Saddles features TCM host and University of Chicago cinema and media studies professor Jacqueline Stewart. She explains that the “movie is an overt and audacious spoof on classic Westerns. It’s as provocative today as it was when it premiered back in 1974.”
She goes on to provide context to some of Brooks’ characters and also informs audiences about the director’s comedy style by highlighting some of the director’s other genre satires, including Young Frankenstein, High Anxiety and Spaceballs.
She points out that race-centered comedy features “racist language and attitudes” throughout and explains, “Those attitudes are espoused by characters who are explicitly portrayed here as narrow-minded, ignorant bigots. The film’s real and much more enlightened perspective is represented by the two main characters played by Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder.”
The intro also adds more background on the film saying that Richard Pryor was initially supposed to play Little’s role but didn’t get it because of his controversial stand-up material. However, Pryor did stay on board helping write the script. It’s said that “Pryor’s knack for calling out racism, combined with Brooks’ new comedic style, made for the film’s honest yet entertaining criticism.”
I’m a big fan of Blazing Saddles, it easily one of my favorite Mel Brooks films. If you’ve never seen it, you should check it out! The film is comedic satire gold.