Blazing Saddles

"Fifteen is my limit on schnitzengruben": Madeline Kahn and Cleavon Little in Blazing Saddles (dir. Mel Brooks, 1974).

I laughed my ass off when this first came out (I was twelve or thirteen). Now it feels almost melancholy, like a sardonic funeral elegy to the old Hollywood. It's hard to tell whether the racial and sexual jokes are daring compared to today's humor, or just naive. The gags that fall flat now are often the ones that seemed funniest to me as a kid--maybe because they've been imitated so often that they've become cliches. In 1974 it was a real novelty to see preachers and little old ladies swearing like sailors. This time around, the thing that amused me the most was that Madeline Kahn recites the opening lyrics to Cabaret ("Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome") when someone knocks on her dressing room door--not once but twice.

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