Day 23 – The Funniest Film Ever
Blazing Saddles (1974 D: Mel Brooks, W: Mel Brooks, Norman Steinberg, Andrew Bergman, Richard Pryor, Alan Uger)
It’s tough competition with the Marx Brothers out there, but Blazing Saddles has the most consistent joke per second rate of any film I can remember. Brooks wanted Richard Pryor to play the lead — a role that went to the great, unsung Cleavon Little — but the film’s underwriter wouldn’t insure him. So Brooks asked Pryor to co-write the film. Pryor, the story goes, wrote a lot of the straight jokes in the film — he created Mongo — but would tell the rest of the writing team which racially-pointed jokes worked and which went too far. Harvey Korman is unbeatable as Hedley Lamar (“That’s HEDLEY”), Slim Pickens gets some of the best lines, and a cast of brilliant character actors work through perfectly tuned jokes and dialogue. It’s amazing that a film can toe the line on potentially offensive material yet stay on the right side of the fence the whole way through. That said, Brooks had already created the idea of “Springtime For Hitler,” so he was probably the man for the job.