“Blazing Saddles” screened at Tryon Fine Arts Center, Oct. 7

Published 5:00 pm Wednesday, October 1, 2014

In the second of its all comedy film series, the Tryon Fine Arts Center will be screening Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles” on Tuesday, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m.

A groundbreaking spoof of Hollywood Westerns of an earlier era, “Blazing Saddles” also struck out against racial prejudice in a time of great social change. It starred Mel Brooks, who was also the director, Gene Wilder, Cleavon Little, Madeline Kahn, Slim Pickins, Harvey Korman and Count Basie and his Orchestra. The film, co-written by Mel Brooks and Richard Pryor, won three Academy Award nominations: Best Supporting Actress (Madeline Kahn) Best Film Editing and Best Original Song. Other awards it won were the Writers’ Guild of America Award for Best Comedy and, in 2006, the National Film Registry Award from the National Film Preservation Board.

Mark Bourne, in his review of the R-rated film in 2006, said “Chalk up Blazing Saddles as only a lampoon of Hollywood westerns and you miss the point by a Texas mile…. Its humor is the palliative that lets Brooks mock prejudices and … prejudiced people.”

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Reviewing the film in February, 1974, Roger Ebert said: “There are some people who can literally get away with anything – say anything, do anything – and people will let them. Other people attempt a mildly dirty joke and bring total silence down on a party. Mel Brooks is not only a member of the first group, he is its lifetime president. ‘Blazing Saddles’ is like that. It’s a crazed grabbag of a movie that does everything to keep us laughing except hit us over the head with a rubber chicken.”

While shooting “Blazing Saddles” during the day, Brooks and Gene Wilder spent their evenings working on the script for “Young Frankenstein.” Remarkably, the two films were released the same year. They had a very similar cast and enormous success and TFAC has decided to show them back-to-back to give audiences the opportunity to compare these two extraordinarily fine examples of Hollywood humor. “Young Frankenstein” will be screened on Oct. 21 (with a pre-Halloween party).

The remaining films to be shown in the TFAC comedy series are Oct. 21, “Young Frankenstein,” Nov. 4, “Some Like it Hot,” Nov. 18, “The Pink Panther” and Dec. 2, “The Odd Couple.”

Doors will open at TFAC at 6:30 p.m. for refreshments and socializing. Concessions will be available for purchase. There will also be an opportunity to chat about the film after the screening. Audience members are encouraged to wear cowboy outfits but asked to keep spurs off the seats. For more information, visit www.tryonarts.org or call 828-859-8322.

– article written by Frances Flynn