December 17, 1974 [Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein]

Mel Brooks, once more unembarrassed by riches, in one year gives us Gene Wilder, Harvey Korman, Madeleine Kahn, Cleavon Little--and, as though they could not carry the pictures (Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein), he throws in Marty Feldman, Slim Pickens, Teri Garr, even ex-Detroit Lion Alex Karras--and Kenneth Mars, fergodssake, and Cloris Leachman--not to mention himself as the Gov, crosseyed and addled, burying his face in mammarial splendor. It’s as though Brooks had decided as a matter of law that vaudeville isn’t dead--let alone Your Show of Shows--then proved it--with pictures that are more than parodies, but movies about movies--Westerns and Universal Studios Gothic, to be specific--and also about the movies themselves, the greedy urge to spill into the audience and be as real as our desire to be in the movies.

Is this too much? Am I spinning out once more? I can’t help it: Brooks figured out that the “R” rating in a movie can mean more than blood and breasts--that the nightclub’s late show goes blue, and in the hands of a master works like pitch-perfect flatulent song, giving the posterior razzberry to everything both racy and racist. As Lili Von Shtupp informs us, “It’s t-woo, it’s t-woo.”

But most of all the metaphysics of moviegoing, the head-bending anachronisms--Wilder’s retired gunfighter musing, “I must have killed more men than Cecil B. DeMille,” or using some of Colin Clive’s lines from the original Frankenstein--let alone the sets themselves, straight from the Universal warehouse, still ready to spin and spark, while Marty Feldman plays Groucho to Wilder’s Harpo--and Peter Boyle wails his way through Cole Porter. And the final breakout: the finale of Blazing Saddles, the Western characters leaving their soundstage, wandering into a musical--and greedy Brooks, one more treat, Dom DeLuise in jodhpurs and a beret, screaming into a megaphone--and then into the theater itself to see how their own movie turns out--Hedley Lamarr (ahem) dying in front of Grauman’s Chinese, wondering how Douglas Fairbanks could do all those stunts with such tiny feet.

I was trying to think of the last time I laughed so hard at a movie--and it was The Producers a few years back. Mongo know now what funny.


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