“Blazing Saddles” uses the familiar plot of an unscrupulous businessman, Hedly Lamarr (Korman), trying to acquire land that will soon become valuable due to the coming railroad. On that land stands the town of Rockridge, so Lamarr arranges the appointment of an African American sheriff, hoping this action will outrage the citizens enough to encourage them to either move away, or lynch the sheriff prompting government intervention. When Sheriff Bart is able to win the town’s loyalty, Lamarr raises an outlaw army, figuring to take the town by force. Film buffs will easily recognize some of the classic movies that are parodied throughout “Blazing Saddles,” such as “High Noon” and “Once Upon A Time In The West,” while Madeline Kahn’s “Lili Von Shtupp” is obviously inspired by Marlene Dietrich’s character in “Destry Rides Again.”
Mel Brooks was by no means the first to spoof the Hollywood western. Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers, Bob Hope and Jack Benny all took their turns putting on cowboy hats for comic effect. But “Blazing Saddles” went much further, using surrealism, some adult language and content, plus a constant breaking down of the “fourth wall”. The film also is somewhat ground breaking as the first western that deals with the issue of what usually happens after several men are through eating beans. Although Brooks had to battle with studio bosses and censors to keep his vision of “Blazing Saddles” intact, the film ended up with three Academy Award nominations, and became only the tenth movie as of that time to gross over $100 million dollars.
Note: Richard Prior was among the several writers who contributed to the screenplay.