Blazing Saddles, the movie most critics and film scholars agree is one of the funniest of all time, would not be allowed in the 21st Century.
This comment comes from the filmmaker behind it, Mel Brooks, on the latest episode of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher.
When asked if he could have gotten by with some of the antics seen in the 1974 classic, he flat-out rejected the idea.
“Not at all. First of all, we had a screening of ‘Blazing Saddles’ and the man who was in charge of Warner Brothers at that time, who shall be nameless — Ted Ashley — dragged me into the manager’s office of the Avco Embassy and said, ‘I’m gonna give you some notes about the movie. The N-word, out. Farting, of course, out. Punching the horse, punching an old lady, she said, ‘Have you ever seen such cruelty?’ So I would have had about 14 minutes of movie left.”
Mel’s take was that if he had such trouble in a non-PC environment, how would he ever hope to get the film through in 2015?
Some on Deadline agreed.
“Not only could ‘Blazing Saddles’ likely not get made today, but even if it somehow could, audiences would never respond to it the way they did decades ago. Brooks would be run out of the country and would never work again as audiences wouldn’t be able to process the mixing of concepts like ‘satire’ and over the top crass humor.”
Of course, what many passing observers and PC critics of the film fail to realize is that one of the driving forces on the film’s writing team was black comedian Richard Pryor.
Brooks even wanted Pryor to take the part, but it didn’t work out, he told EW in a 2014 interview commemorating the film’s 40th anniversary.
“I was so lucky to get him, because he’s just funny in every way. He made a profound contribution to that script. He gave me some really beautiful 126th Street, St. Nicholas Ave. [Harlem] lines. I quit for three days because Warner Bros. wouldn’t [let me cast] Richard as Black Bart. Richard came over and said, ‘If I was the black sheriff, I could pass for Cuban because I’m coffee-colored. Now, this guy Cleavon Little: He’s classy, he has poise, and he’s really charming. But he’s black as coal. He will scare the s*** out of them.’ I said, ‘Okay, I’m coming back.’”
What do you think about Mel Brooks’ statement, readers? Could Blazing Saddles be made in the 21st Century, or are we all way too PC and humorless to embrace it?