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Blazing Saddles

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The movie poster for Blazing Saddles[note 1]
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As Mel Brooks once said to his writers on Blazing Saddles, which is a great film, "Write anything you want, because we'll never be heard from again. We will all be arrested for this movie."
—President Barack Obama[2]

Blazing Saddles is a 1974 movie directed by Mel Brooks.Wikipedia Brooks was aided by four other writers, including comedian Richard Pryor,Wikipedia in an unusually chaotic screenwriting process. The film has often been misunderstood by critics, for example as a simple burlesque,[3][4] but it has also been an audience favorite.[5] Despite its broad and vulgar humor, frequent sight gags, and use of racist slurs, Blazing Saddles does have a serious message, and it expresses the message by subverting tropes and breaking things: the western film genre, stereotypes, expectations, time and the fourth wall.Wikipedia

One could make a dull film that says 'racism is bad', or one could make an "unapologetically politically incorrect [film that] also skewers nearly every western trope listed on" TV Tropes[6] that became a blockbuster and was eventually inducted into the US National Film Registry.[7][8]

The basic premise for Blazing Saddles is that it is set in the year 1874, but also in the year 1974 at the same time, with cultural references from 1974 drifting into the dialogue of the 1874 setting. This works as a plot device because 1874 was towards the end of the Reconstruction era (1865-1877) as well as firmly within the so-called Robber Baron eraWikipedia (e.g. predating the first US antitrust law by 16 yearsWikipedia) and 1974 was shortly after the Civil Rights era (1954-1968).

You couldn't make Blazing Saddles in the year 2024! Because white racists would be even more upset at being repeatedly pwned as hard as Blazing Saddles pwned them in 1974.


There was a lot of white people that didn't like the word 'nigger'. Strangely enough only… not from blacks… never objected to the word 'nigger'. They knew that it was used correctly in the movie. That the sheriff was subject to this weird uh you know… These people who he was helping were against him simply because he was black, and called him 'nigger'. So it was fine. I don't think it should be used. I don't think the word should be used… unless it's used absolutely correctly… to show… race prejudice. And I didn't show it from bad people. I showed it from good people who didn't know any better. And it was really understood by the black community. They got it. They were smart. They understood everything.
—Mel Brooks[9]

Blazing Saddles was not just the first Hollywood film to extensively use the slur 'nigger', but the film needed to do so to succeed.[10] It did so in a seemingly gratuitous but actually not-at-all gratuitous way, so as to make the comedy work by showing the "ridiculous backwards thinking that is born out of racism".[8] The CEO of Warner Brothers, Ted Ashley, after seeing a screening of the film told Brooks to cut all instances of the word from the film as well as to make other cuts, but they stayed in because Ashley did not know that Brooks' contract gave him final-cut rights.[11]

With notable exceptions, racist slurs are confined to villainous characters or at least to characters who are acting villainously. Exceptions are:

  1. Bart's sly retort that requires him to repeat the slur in order to try to get a rise out of the foreman
  2. Bart pretending to be a villain in order to avoid being shot by the men of Rock Ridge
  3. Charlie speaking ironically to Bart

Racism is portrayed in a class-based way: the foremen, overseers, and the townspeople are portrayed as vulgar racists, freely using slurs and otherwise openly expressing their racism, whereas the attorney general and governor are "genteel racists"[12] (also known as "aversive racists"[13]) who literally cannot bring themselves to say the word "nigger" but who otherwise express racism and whose racism depends upon the manipulation and exploitation of the vulgar racism of others.

It is useful to compare Blazing Saddles to Mark Twain's 1884 novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Huckleberry Finn was banned frequently for varying reasons, including initially for what was called "backwards talking", i.e., using dialog that was representative of how people actually spoke.[14] The book also used the word 'nigger' 213 times, something that was responsible along with its alleged racism for more modern attempts at bannings.[14][15] Huckleberry Finn, however, at its core, deals with racism and the meaning of freedom.[14]

Bart as trickster[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Trickster

There are several points in the film that make it clear that Bart's character is a trickster, an archetype that is common in folklore from around the world, but that is most noteworthy for the film with the Br'er RabbitWikipedia character from African-American folktales.

Epic theatre[edit]

Brecht in 1954

Though the West is portrayed in a broad or cartoonish way, it is in some ways more realistic than other Hollywood westerns due to people's frank and crude speech and overt racism. Not unlike the Ig Nobel Prize, Blazing Saddles works by first making people laugh, then making people think.[17] The use of multiple breakings of the fourth wall in Blazing Saddles is not just an attempt at humor but also an attempt at audience engagement[18] — making people think after they laugh. Similarly, the breaking of the time barrier — the frequent references from the 1874 setting to 1974 and other time periods — serves both as a comedic element and as a way of signalling to the audience an unstated 'Hey, look here. Things haven't changed so much.' In this regard, Blazing Saddles borrows directly from the two primary techniques of anti-fascist playwright Bertolt Brecht'sWikipedia concept of "epic theatre":[19]

  1. Verfremdungseffekt (estrangement effect), which includes breaking the fourth wall as well as for actors to portray multiple characters. In Blazing Saddles, Brooks portrays the Governor, the Sioux chief, and one of the men lined up to join Lamarr's gang. Brooks also voices over two parts, the lead singer in the German army chorus and the cowboy trying to kiss Lili von Shtupp.
  2. Historicization — commenting on the current time from plays based in historical time

Brooks was certainly familiar with Brecht's plays before writing Blazing Saddles because he first met Gene Wilder when Wilder and Brooks' wife, Anne Bancroft, were acting in Brecht's anti-war play Mother Courage.[20]

The shadow plot[edit]

Unusually, there is a shadow plot line in Blazing Saddles that is only sometimes obvious. There are several references to German militarism in the film that advance somewhat chronologically:

So, the Nazi shadow plot in Blazing Saddles progresses with regard to German militarism: from relative innocence, to humor and cooptation, to crime, to guilt and judgment, and finally to historic portrayal and mockery ("They lose me right after the bunker scene."). The shadow plot breaks the time barrier in a more sustained way, pushing the audience to think about racism and crimes in Nazi Germany simultaneously with racism and crimes in the western United States of the 1800s.


See the main article on this topic: Postmodernism

Blazing Saddles has been called a postmodernist film.[21]:215[22][23][24] Tim Woods in his book Beginning Postmodernism defines postmodernist film as meeting four criteria:[21]:214-215

  1. A pastiche of styles and genres
  2. A flattening of history
  3. Self-referentiality
  4. "A celebration of the collapse of the distinction between high and low cultural styles and techniques"

In Blazing Saddles, one can see:

  1. The film has the dominant Western style, but also the German film of the 1930s (BlaueThe Blue Angel), and the Busby Berkeley-style choreographed musical. It also references World War II films and motorcycle gang films.
  2. Conflation of the years 1874 and 1974, and other time periods
  3. Actors speaking directly to the camera (breaking the fourth wall), physically breaking through the Western set into the Warner Bros.' movie lot, and actors sitting in the movie theater viewing the same movie that they are acting in
  4. Reference to high style (The Blue Angel, Judgment at Nuremberg) and low style (Bugs Bunny)

Going too far?[edit]


See the main article on this topic: Antifeminism

Bethany Hegener, writing for Medium, has noted the offensiveness of rape jokes in the film.[25] Blazing Saddles has two or three rape 'jokes' (1, 2, and 3), and arguably rape jokes are never funny.[25] The jokes do establish character, however, showing just how awful the villainous characters are who make these statements. So, if one is going to criticize a work of fiction,[25] one should first understand how fiction works, which Hegener does not seem to understand. As author Azar Nafisi puts it:[26]

Good authors give their fictional characters, even villains, their own voices. (Conversely, a bad author, like a dictator, imposes his own voice upon those of his characters, stifling them.) In this way, fiction becomes a space where readers can encounter people they might otherwise never meet, create a dialogue with them, and become curious and find empathy with those who are different.

In other words, writers/directors/actors do not usually subscribe to every word that a character states. Actors have to read their lines whether they agree with them or not. To make good fiction, writers have to make villains, heroes and ambiguous characters. In Blazing Saddles, Burton Gilliam actually had difficulty saying the word 'nigger', particularly to Cleavon Little whom he liked. Cleavon told Burton:[27]

If I thought you would say those words to me in any other situation we'd go to fist city but this all fun. Don't worry about it.

Also, one should not quote mine, as Hegener did.

Hegener has claimed that the Lili von Shtupp is exemplary of the objectification and sexualization of women in the film,[25] but it is noteworthy that Lili has agency: she is sexually liberated and chooses her sexual partners. Furthermore, during her stage show, she shows that she can take care of herself by mockery and by physical force: kicking a cowboy's feet off the stage and kneeing an aggressive cowboy in the crotch. Plus, she dismissively sidesteps Lamarr's sexual advances without repercussions.

Gay stereotyping?[edit]

Greg Hernandez, writing for Gay Star News, has stated that the portrayal of gay men is stereotypical[28] and — unless one looks carefully — not redemptive unlike how racism is portrayed. However, at five brief points there are indications otherwise:

  1. Shortly after Bart and Jim meet, a possible sexual pass by Jim towards Bart is politely dismissed and has no negative effect on their relationship.
  2. The idea that Mongo could be gay — though he isn't — is handled nonchalantly.
  3. Much later in the great fight scene, a cowboy and a presumably-gay effeminate man are fighting, then reappear from under a staircase, affectionately holding each other.
  4. Immediately after that encounter, a second cowboy and a second effeminate man stop fighting and show affection towards each other.
  5. Two dancers are shown affectionately swimming in synchrony.

The second and third instances could be described as foreshadowings of the groundbreaking gay cowboy film Brokeback Mountain.Wikipedia[note 2]

The overall theme of "The French Mistake" scene can be read as coming out of the closet. The music, belonging to the dancers, shortly precedes their appearance and continues through the melee, indicating that the dancers have actually invaded the cowboys' space, rather than the other way around.[29]:220 In the second instance, both the dancer and the cowboy exit what could be described as a metaphorical closet, as they leave the passageway.

Notably, Brooks' intention was not to laugh at gays: he has claimed to have vetted his humor with his gay friends,[note 3][30][29]:218-219 which is not to say that it is inoffensive or that all gays will find it funny, but rather that Brooks does at least have some cultural sensitivity.[29]:219 "Within the context of Blazing Saddles, gay humor can be read as either pure outrageousness, or as an analogous conterpart to a steady stream of racist language designed to attack racism as stupidity."[29]:219

One of the greatest conservative movies of all time![edit]

—Buddy Bizarre

The basic problem with conservatives claiming that Blazing Saddles is a conservative film, rather than an anti-racist film, is that it relies on conflating political correctness with liberalism and political incorrectness with conservativism. Political correctness is an ideology-based concept that varies by ideology; for example, Conservapedia has nearly completely banned the use of certain terminology (e.g., the near-total ban of the acronym 'BCE' and the word 'fuck', the latter excepted in rare cases when quoting people they hate[31]) and the banning of certain concepts such as support of evolution (despite it being supported by the Catholic Church since 1950[note 4]). As the film itself demonstrates, one can use 'politically incorrect' terminology in the service of a larger lesson.


Conservapedia thinks that Blazing Saddles is one of the "Greatest Conservative Movies",[32] and Andrew Schlafly agrees.[33] The reason given is, "A politically incorrect western, something liberals are sure to despise."[32] Apparently, either no one at Conservapedia has seen the film, or more likely, no one there has understood it. Considering that the list also includes 1984, Fight Club, and Parasite (no, really), it's entirely possible that it is the latter. Putting the word 'nigger' in a film does not automatically make it conservative (or liberal or anything else), otherwise this very webpage that you are reading now would also be conservative.


John Nolte of Breitbart has claimed in a 2014 review that all copies of Blazing Saddles will eventually be burned by the left wing.[34] Credibly, Nolte did enjoy the film and did understand that racism was the major theme of the film.[34] In a separate piece, Nolte also listed ten "reasons" (all non sequiturs, of course) why he thinks that the film will eventually be banned by liberals:[35]

  1. Roger Ebert not wanting a general re-release of Disney's film Song of the SouthWikipedia
  2. "Leftists are removing the word 'n***er' from Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"
  3. Comedian Leslie Jones, an African American, was criticized for joking about slavery.
  4. Comedian Sam Kinison was criticized for joking about hunger, gays and AIDS.
  5. Comedian Andrew Dice Clay was boycotted for misogynist humor.
  6. Comedian Tracy Morgan was criticized by GLAAD for saying he would stab his son if he were gay.
  7. Comedy Central censored an episode of South Park (the Muhammad censorship controversy)
  8. Climate change denialists are not given the media coverage that they are demanding.
  9. Chuck Schumer's failed attempt to pass a law that would overturn the US Supreme Court decision on Citizens United
  10. A disputed[36] claim by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education that free speech is widely curtailed at public universities

Ironically, Nolte's writing 'n***er' rather than the word itself, is self-defeating in his argument because he either self-censored or was censored by the far-right Breitbart, bringing him down to the level of Governor Le Petomane's genteel racism, and is a form of political correctness itself. Furthermore, the idea that using a euphemism for a racist term somehow makes one not racist falls into the "mistaking the map for the territory" fallacy.

Taken as a whole, Nolte's prediction seems to assume that liberals are some sort of monolithic organization because the first eight reasons given are concerning individuals or organizations expressing their free speech rights to criticize other people's particular expressions of free speech rights. Reason number nine, Citizens United, concerns whether a corporation is a person and whether money is a form of speech. Reason number ten deals primarily with whether inflammatory speakers should be allowed to speak on college campuses. The ACLU has in fact often defended free speech on campuses,[37] despite many conservatives' belief that the ACLU is a liberal bugaboo.

Nolte also makes the claim that the film is not "peering down from a place of superior sanctimony like the makers of BoratWikipedia and Talladega Nights."Wikipedia[34] This is patently false, since Blazing Saddles gleefully mocks:

Western Free Press[edit]

Eric Blake, writing for Western Free Press, has written that "This is one of those films that's Conservative By Default. That is, it's effectively become Conservative over the years, as the Left, to be blunt, has gotten more and more insane."[38][note 5] Blake wasted his time getting a "Bachelor's in Political Science and a Master's in Film Studies" from the University of South Florida,[note 6] otherwise he might have known better about writing this drivel.[38] Western Free Press is a self-described "news and opinion site for conservatives and libertarians".[40]

Citing Nolte and 'professional asshole' Steven Crowder as his primary sources of information,[41] Blake quotes Crowder's video:

Everything about this film is 'offensive'. Everything about it! Is it ‘racist’? — yes. 'Homophobia'? — it's got that. 'Sexist'? — absolutely. 'Xenophobia'? — that wasn’t even a thing back then; but sure — let's go with that!

Never mind that xenophobia as a concept has existed since ancient times,[42] and the word itself has existed since 1903.[43] The professional asshole can't even be bothered to Google it.

Blake states that Lamarr is a "big-government guy through-and-through — assumes like a Lefty that the racism of the townspeople will be such that they just won't find it in themselves to actually accept a black sheriff."[38] Though Lamarr is Attorney General for an unnamed podunk state, where is the big government? He has no visible government employees of his own; Taggart, his henchman, is a railroad foreman, not a government employee. Lamarr even has to ask for favors (1, 2) from the hangman, who conveniently operates just outside his office. The townspeople do in fact reject Bart as the sheriff from knee-jerk racism and nearly murder him outright, but are only convinced to accept Bart after he rescues them from Mongo, who had foolishly been sent by Taggart.

Based on Crowder, Blake's argument is basically that since the film is politically incorrect, it is therefore conservative: a conflation of the two concepts. Although Blake also understands the main theme of the film — racism — and that racists can perhaps change their views,[38] what he doesn't understand in the film is:

  • That not all of the racists in the film have changed their views by the end of the film (vulgar racists Taggart and Lyle, and genteel racist Lamarr)
  • The strong and overt alignment of racism with conservativism since the rise of the alt-right or its many antecedents, including the more subtle Nixonian Southern Strategy

Like Breitbart, either Blake or Western Free Press self-censored and used 'n——r' rather than the actual word. If one cannot even name the thing that is wrong to say in a gratuitous context, one's argument is failing.

The film itself[edit]

If you've never seen Blazing Saddles before, you should find a copy and watch it first. The videos do not show the whole movie, and the text (obviously) leaves out the excellent camerawork and editing as well as actors' nuance. Also, it goes without saying, if you have to explain a joke, it isn't funny. The purpose of the annotations below is to explain some of the humor and some of the historical context.

The opening scene[edit]

The opening scene shows most of the basic themes that follow in the rest of the film: the building of the railroad (and implicit robber baronism), racial slurs, racist class structure, the sly subversion of the African American laborers, and the duping of dimwitted white overseers and foremen.

Lyle [assistant foreman, played by Burton GilliamWikipedia]: Come on, boys! The way you're lollygagging around here with them picks and them shovels… you'd think it was 120 degrees: Can't be more than 114.
[Lyle and the overseers laugh, then a Chinese laborer falls over from heat exhaustion.]

Lyle: Dock that Chink a day's pay for nappin' on the job.

Laborer #1: Yes sir.
Chinese railroad workers in the snow, 1860s
Chinese laborers made a substantial contribution to the building of United States' western railroad system; the work was poorly paid and often difficult and dangerous.[44] In 1867, Chinese railroad workers staged the largest labor strike of that time, demanding equal pay and better working conditions.[45]

Lyle: Come on, boys, where's your spirit? I don't hear no singin'. When you was slaves, you sang like birds. Come on. How about a good old nigger work song?
[Bart (played by Cleavon LittleWikipedia) and the other African-American laborers assemble. Bart begins singing the lead while the other men sing background vocals.]
Lyle emphasizes that though the African American workers had been freed from slavery, they are still consigned to the lowest level of the American caste system, with occupational restriction to hard labor and 'happily' providing entertainment.[46]:135-140
Forced good cheer became a weapon of submission to assuage the guilt of the dominant caste and further humiliate the enslaved. If they were in chains and happy, how could anyone say that they were being mistreated?
—Isabel Wilkerson[46]:137


Bart: "♫I get no kick from champagne. Mere alcohol doesn't thrill me at all. So tell me why should it be true… that I get a belt out of you? Some get a kick from cocaine.♫"
Lyle: Hold it! Hold it! What the hell is that shit? I meant a song. A real song. Something like "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot".

[The laborers look puzzled]
  • The irony of this song, "I Get a Kick Out of You",Wikipedia is that the laborers were working — by visual implication — under threat of violence from the white overseers (who rode on horseback and carried guns). This is the first instance of breaking the time barrier of 1874, as the lyrics are a variation on the song written in 1934 by Cole Porter.
  • "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot"Wikipedia was written by Wallis WillisWikipedia in 1866. Willis was an African-American Choctaw freedman.Wikipedia

Lyle: Don't know that one, huh? How about "De Camp Town Ladies"?

Bart (with affectation and puzzlement): "De Camp Town Ladies"?
African-American laborers: "De Camp Town Ladies"?
Lyle: Ah, you know. ♫"De Camp Town Ladies sing this song, doo-dah, doo-dah. The Camp Town race track five miles long. All the doo-dah day!♫"

[Other overseers join in and dance wildly with Lyle]

Overseers: Gwine to run all night! Gwine to run all day! Bet my money on the bobtail nag, somebody bet on de bay.

[The African-American laborers are clearly amused from watching the overseers dance around foolishly while singing a minstrel song, though not in blackface.]
[Taggart, the foreman, gallops his horse into the group of dancing overseers, and shoots his pistol in the air twice.]
The song "Camptown Races"Wikipedia was a minstrel song written by Stephen Foster, so Lyle is actually trying to get black people to perform a song that was ordinarily performed by white people in blackface for a white audience. By feigning ignorance, the African American laborers have tricked the overseers into effectively performing a minstrel show for the laborers' entertainment.


Taggart [played by Slim PickensWikipedia]: What in the wide, wide world of sports is going on here? I hired you people to try to get a little track laid, not to jump around like a bunch of Kansas City faggots!

Lyle: Sorry, Mr. Taggart. I, I guess we kind of got caught up.
  • "Wide, wide world of sports" is a reference to the TV show Wide World of SportsWikipedia that ran from 1961-1998.
  • "Kansas City faggots" is a reference to the dance during the "Kansas City" song in the 1955 film Oklahoma!Wikipedia

Taggart: Dummy, the surveyors say they may have run into some quicksand up ahead. Better check it out.

Lyle: Okay, I'll send down a team of horses to check out the ground.
Taggart: Horses! [Taggart beats Lyle over the head with a swagger stick.] We can't afford to lose any horses, you dummy! Send over a couple of niggers.

Lyle: You and you. [pointing to Bart and Charlie, another African-American laborer]
Even though the Thirteenth Amendment added to the United States Constitution in 1865, abolishing slavery, Taggart is still treating African Americans as property.

Bart: Sir, he specifically requested two niggers… but to tell a family secret, my grandmother was Dutch.
Lyle: Get on that hand car and take it down to the end of that line!
Bart: Just trying to help you out.

Lyle: Git!
Bart slyly attempts to avoid the task by asserting the "one-drop rule" but in reverse (the racist one-drop rule did not exist as a legal concept until 1910).
The specific reference to having a Dutch ancestor is likely a reference to the enslavement of Africans by Dutch colonists in New Netherlands, which later became part of New York State. This aspect of American slavery has not been widely known among non-historians.[47][48]


Charlie [played by Charles McGregorWikipedia]: I didn't know your grandmother was Dutch!
[Bart and Charlie mockingly sing Camptown Races, the song they had pretended not to know, as they travel down the rail track. They stop singing when Bart and Charlie start to slowly sink from view.]

Charlie: Bart? Am I wrong… or is the world rising?
Bart: I don't know, but whatever it is, I hate it. Let me ask you something. What is it that's not exactly water, and it ain't exactly earth?
Bart and Charlie: Quicksand!

[Taggart and Lyle ride into the scene]

Taggart: Shit, quicksand! Goddang, now we are in trouble!

Bart: They're in trouble!
Taggart: Get your rope there. Get over there quick.
Taggart: Right, Mr. Taggart.
Taggart: Dang, that was lucky. Doggone near lost a $400 hand cart.

[Lyle lassos the handcart and pulls it out, leaving Bart and Charlie in the quicksand. Taggart and Lyle ignore them as Taggart looks at a map and points into the distance.]

Taggart: Yeah, we can take it right off to the,… just a little bit to the left of that hill.
Charlie: But we're going to die, Bart. They're going to leave us here to die!
Bart: Take it easy, Charlie. My foot is on the rail.
Taggart: Then maybe down that canyon. I think it's pretty level off there. We can't swing back to the right 'cause of that hill there. That looks like the way we'll have to go from here. Yes, we'll put her right down through there over that ridge.

[Bart and Charlie emerge from the quicksand.]

Taggart: Boys, the break is over. Don't just lay there getting a suntan. Ain't going to do you no good, no how! [Taggart and Lyle laugh.] Here, take that shovel and put her to some good use! [Taggart tosses a shovel at them while they're still lying on the track covered with sand. Taggart and Lyle turn towards the horses.]
Charlie: What? Don't do that now!
Bart: I have to.
Taggart: Send a wire to the main office and tell them I said… OW!

[Taggart is hit on the back of the head with the shovel by Bart.]
Lyle: "Send wire, main office, tell them I said…" Gotcha.
Taggart reiterates the low monetary value that he places upon African American laborers.

Land: see snatch[edit]

[The scene changes to the office of "Hedley Lamarr, Attorney General, Assistant to Governor, State Procurer" We see Taggart with a head bandage and Lamarr]
Taggart: And right here, Mr. Lamarr, is where we run into quicksand.
Hedley Lamarr [played by Harvey KormanWikipedia]: Quicksand. Splendid.
Taggart: And so the railroad has got to go through Rock Ridge.
Lamarr: Rock Ridge. Splendid.
Taggart: Yes sir, Rock Ridge.
Lamarr: Be still, Taggart.
Taggart: Yes sir.
Lamarr: My mind is aglow with whirling, transient nodes of thought… careening through a cosmic vapor of invention.

Taggart: Ditto!
  Lamarr has the title of official state pimp ('State Procurer').

Lamarr: Ditto? Ditto, you provincial putz!
Taggart: I'm sorry, sir.
Lamarr: A plan. We need a plan.

[A loud noise occurs off screen.]

Taggart: What in the hell was that?

[Lamarr opens the window and sticks his head out. We see Boris the hangman at the gallows with a line of men waiting to be hanged. First in line is an old man in a wheelchair (presumably Dr. Gillespie).]

Lamarr: Boris, we can't hear ourselves think!
Perhaps this is prescient of "Dittohead".

Boris [played by Robert RidgelyWikipedia]: Sorry, your Worship, but I've got two men home sick with the flu… and it's utter chaos down here. I'll try to keep it as quiet as possible. But as you can see… this one is a doozey.
Ridgely is dressed in medieval chain mail while impersonating Quasimodo from the 1939 version of Hunchback of Notre Dame.Wikipedia

Lamarr: Yes, the Doctor Gillespie killings. Well, do your best.

[Lamarr closes the window and returns to Taggart.]

Lamarr: Now, let's see. Where were we?
Taggart: Rock Ridge.
Lamarr: Yes, when that railroad goes through Rock Ridge… that land will be worth millions, and I want it! I want that land so badly, I can taste it. [Lamarr starts humping a statue of Lady JusticeWikipedia as Taggart looks on in disgust.] There must be a way. [Taggart is so distracted from the humping that he knocks over a book from the desk.] Clumsy fool!

Taggart: I'm sorry.
This is an apparent oblique reference to the Dr. Gillespie film series,Wikipedia which terminated in 1942.


Lamarr: Wait a minute! There might be a legal precedent. [Lamarr picks up the law book and pages through it.] Let's see, land, la… land, "Land. See Snatch." [He pages through to "snatch".] "Haley v. United States. Haley, seven. United States, nothing." You see, it can be done. It can be done. Unfortunately, there is one thing that stands between me and that property. … The rightful owners. There must be some way of scaring them off, driving them out. Getting rid of every human being alive in that…

[Taggart is excitedly waving his hand in the air like a schoolboy.]

Lamarr: It's down the hall and to the left.
Taggart: No. Sir, I've got it!

Lamarr: What?
  • Notably, confiscation or theft of property or land is often part of ethnic cleansing or genocide,[49][50] and the Amerindian genocides are referenced directly elsewhere in the film. The genocides included enormous land confiscations under the guise of treaties ("Elsewhere, the United States employed three legal instruments to dispossess residents. Treaties predominated until 1871, when Congress voted to end the practice. Negotiated under duress or facilitated with bribes, they were often violated soon after ratification, despite the language of perpetuity.").[51]
  • "Haley v. United States" is a reference to a legal dispute between a wheat farmer named Haley and the United States over land ownership: Haley prevailed at the Supreme Court in 1962.[52]
  • Lamarr paraphrases anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon'sWikipedia slogan/protestation, "Property is theft!"Wikipedia with his own "Land. See Snatch." Lamarr furthermore asserts that it is justified by a legal precedent that will enable his dastardly plans.
  • Lamarr's monologue establishes his robber-baron persona.
  • After the 2005 Supreme Court decision on Kelo v. City of New London,Wikipedia there is now a more genteel way of stealing coopting public land for private use: eminent domain.
  • Given some of the racy jokes that are in this movie, "Land: see snatch" may also be a sexual reference.

Taggart: I know how we can run everybody out of Rock Ridge. We'll kill the first-born male child in every household!
This is a reference to Exodus 12:29 ("…the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.")

Lamarr: Too Jewish.

Lamarr: Let's see.
Taggart: I got it!
Lamarr: What?
Taggart: We'll work up a Number Six on them!
Lamarr: I'm afraid I'm not familiar with that one.
Taggart: That's where we go riding into town… and a-whoppin' and a-whomping' every living thing that moves within an inch of its life! Except the womenfolks, of course.
Lamarr: You spare the women?
Taggart: No, we rape the shit out of them at the Number Six dance later on!
Lamarr: That's marvelous! That's so creative! [Lamarr grabs Taggart's head in ecstasy and Taggart yelps from pain.] Why, Taggart, you've been hurt [finally noticing the bandage]!
Taggart: That uppity nigger hit me on the head with a shovel. I'd sure appreciate it, sir, if you could find it in your heart… to hang him up by his neck until he was dead. Got him locked up downstairs.
Lamarr: Consider it done, stout fellow.

[Lamarr opens the window again and sticks his head out again. Boris is about to hang both a man and the horse that he is riding.]

Lamarr: Boris? I've got a special. When can you work him in?
Boris: I couldn't possibly fit him in until Monday, sir. I'm booked solid.
Lamarr: Monday. Splendid.

[Lamarr returns to Taggart.]
Notably, Harvey Korman, the actor playing Lamarr, is Jewish.

Taggart: Thank you, sir. And don't you worry. Why, we'll make Rock Ridge think it's a chicken that got caught in a tractor's nuts!

Lamarr: Splendid.

[Another loud sound from outside happens.]
Lamarr: It's all right, Taggart. Just a man and a horse being hung out there.
The tractor was not invented until 1901. "…tractor's nuts" is surrealist humor.

The hanging of horse and rider might be a simple sight gag, or it may be a sly reference to the expression "Fuck you and the horse you rode in on."[53][54]

It may also be possible that this is a reference to a man being "hung like a horse".

The Ballad of Rock Ridge[edit]

[The song tempo increases with the action as the camera moves through the town.]

♫There was a peaceful town called Rock Ridge…
where people lived in harmony.
They never had no kind of trouble.
There was no hint of misery.
The town saloon was always lively… [A small herd of cattle are shown calmly walking in between bar customers at their tables.]

but never nasty or obscene.

Behind the bar stood Anal Johnson.

He always kept things nice and clean! [He spits in the glass as he cleans it and then belches.]
And all at once the trouble started.
A pack of murderers and thieves…
like swarms of locusts they descended…
their aim to make the townsfolk flee.♫

Man [being dragged by horse through mud]: Well, that's the end of this suit!
Elderly Woman [being restrained by one man and punched by another]: Have you ever seen such cruelty? [speaking to the camera, i.e., breaking the fourth wall]

[The camera turns to the town church.]
♫Now is a time of great decision.
Are we to stay or up and quit?♫
This is a rather nasty and obscene reference to Oral Roberts, particularly since 'Johnson' can mean penis.

[The camera is now within the church and focused on the congregants, who as it turns out were singing "The Ballad of Rock Ridge".]
♫There's no avoiding this conclusion.
Our town is turning into shit!♫

Rev. Johnson [played by Liam DunnWikipedia]: Be seated.… I don't have to tell you good folks… what has been happening here in our beloved town. Sheriff murdered, crops burned… stores looted, people stampeded… and cattle raped! Now the time has come to act. And act fast! I'm leaving.

This scene is a parody of the church scene in the 1952 film High Noon.Wikipedia[55]

Gabby Johnson [played by Jack StarrettWikipedia]: You get back here, you old pious, candy-ass sidewinder! There ain't no way that nobody is going to leave this town! Hell, I was born here and I was raised here… and daggonit, I'm going to die here! And no sidewinder, bushwhacking, hornswoggling… cracker croaker, is going to ruin my biscuit-cutter!
Jack Starrett is impersonating George "Gabby" Hayes,Wikipedia (1885–1969) who acted in many Westerns.


Olson Johnson [played by David HuddlestonWikipedia]: Now who can argue with that? I think we're all indebted to Gabby Johnson… for clearly stating what needed to be said. I'm particularly glad that these lovely children… were here today to hear that speech. Not only was it authentic frontier gibberish… it expressed a courage little seen in this day and age! Right. What are we made of? Our fathers came across the prairie… fought Indians, fought drought, fought locusts, fought Dix! Remember when Richard Dix came in here and tried to take over this town? We didn't give up then… and by gum, we're not going to give up now!

Dr. Samuel Johnson [played by Richard CollierWikipedia]: Olson Johnson is right! What kind of people are we, anyhow? I say we stay and fight it out!
Olsen and Johnson, c. 1951
Cimarron film poster
  • Olson Johnson is a pun on the comedy duo Olsen and JohnsonWikipedia who began performing together in 1914. The use of the name is also likely referencing Olsen and Johnson's fourth-wall breaking 1941 film, Hellzapoppin.Wikipedia[55]
  • "Fought Dix" is a pun on a plausible American regional pronunciation of Fort Dix,Wikipedia New Jersey, which was built in 1917. Richard DixWikipedia was an actor who starred in the Western Cimarron, whose plot included land-grabbing in Oklahoma Territory, and an outlaw gang led by "The Kid" who menaced the town.[56]

Howard Johnson [played by John HillermanWikipedia]: Dr. Samuel Johnson is right about Olson Johnson's being right. And I'm not giving up my ice cream parlor… that I built with these two hands for nothing or nobody!
Howard Johnson is a reference to Howard Deering JohnsonWikipedia (1897–1972), who founded the Howard Johnson's company but started his business by making ice cream. An earlier part of this scene showed the outside of the parlor as offering "1 Flavor", a likely joke on another ice cream company, Baskin-RobbinsWikipedia (founded in 1945), whose slogan is "31 Flavors".


Van Johnson [played by George FurthWikipedia]: Howard Johnson is right!
Howard Johnson: Thank you, Van.
Rev. Johnson: Well, if we're going to stay, and I think it's a big mistake… we're going to need a new sheriff. Now, who is it going to be?
Howard Johnson: Why don't we wire the governor to send us a sheriff? Why should we get our own men killed?
Van Johnson: Howard Johnson is right. We'll wire the governor.

Rev. Johnson: Then let us pray for the deliverance of our new sheriff. Will the congregation please rise? I shall now read from the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke… and duck! [A lit bundle of dynamite crashes through the church window and explodes.]
  • Van Johnson is a reference to an actual actor, Van JohnsonWikipedia (1916–2008) who acted in one of the Dr. Gillespie films.
  • By now, it has become obvious that seemingly every person in Rock Ridge is named Johnson, a comment on the tininess of the town and its apparently incestuous character.

The sheriff is a…[edit]

[Camera focuses on a door that says, "William J. Le Petomane, Governor", then cuts to the governor's office. We hear mumbling then a disembodied voice says, "We've got to do something!"]

Lamarr: Governor, may I disturb you for a moment, sir? [Le Petomane's back is towards the camera, and he is talking to his secretary, Miss Stein.]
Governor Le Petomane [played by Mel Brooks]: Yes, what is it?
Lamarr: If you will just sign this, governor. Right here.

Le Petomane: Yes, what the hell is it?
"William J. Le Petomane" is a sly fart joke, that references the famous performer and professional farter Joseph Pujol who first performed in 1887 and worked under the stage name Le Pétomane.Wikipedia


Lamarr: Well, under the provisions of this bill… we would snatch 200,000 acres of Indian territory… which we have deemed unsafe for their use at this time. They're such children.
Le Petomane: 200,000 acres! 200,000 acres! What will it cost, man? What will it cost?
A box of these. Are you crazy? They'll never go for it, and then again they might. The little red devils, they love toys. May I try one?
Lamarr: Please do, sir.
Le Petomane: Thank you. [He pulls out a paddle ballWikipedia game.] These things are defective. [He misses the ball with the paddle.]
Lamarr: [Lamarr pulls another one out and gracefully hits the ball.] Right as usual, sir.
Le Petomane: Showoff!

Lamarr: Just sign this, sir. Right here.

Le Petomane: Okay, give us a hand here. Work, work, work. Hello, boys, have a good night's rest? I missed you.

Lamarr: Just one more bill for you to sign, sir.
Le Petomane: What the hell is this?
Lamarr: This is the bill that will convert the State Hospital for the Insane… into the William J. Le Petomane Memorial Gambling Casino for the Insane.
Le Petomane: Gentlemen, this… this bill will be a giant step forward… in the treatment of the insane gambler. Yes, bravo! Beautiful. … Thank you, Hedy, thank you.

Lamarr: It's not Hedy. It's Hedley. Hedley Lamarr.
"Hello, boys…" refers to Miss Stein's breasts.

Le Petomane: What the hell are you worried about? This is 1874. You'll be able to sue her.

Lamarr: Just sign here, sir.
Le Petomane: Thank you.
Lamarr: That's it.
Le Petomane: All right, help me in with this. [trying to get the fountain pen into its holder]
Lamarr: Just think of your secretary.
Le Petomane: That was a very good suggestion. Okay, is that it? Anything else?
Miss Stein [played by Robyn HiltonWikipedia]: Just this urgent telegram from Rock Ridge. It arrived last Friday.

Le Petomane: Last Friday. Read it, you wild bitch.
It's Hedy Lamarr
Hedy Lamarr,Wikipedia a famous actress of the 20th century, actually did sue Warner Bros. studio for the use of her name in the film without her permission.

Stein: "Sheriff murdered. Church meeting bombed. Reign of terror must cease. Send new sheriff immediately."

Le Petomane: Holy underwear! Sheriff murdered. Innocent women and children blown to bits! We've got to protect our phony-baloney jobs, gentlemen. We must do something about this immediately, immediately, immediately! Hrumph, hrumph, hrumph… I didn't get a "hrumph" out of that guy!
Lamarr: Give the governor a "hrumph". You watch your ass.
Unnamed lackey: [timidly] Hrumph.
Le Petomane: You watch your ass. Gentlemen, please, rest your sphincters.
Lamarr: Well put.
Le Petomane: Thank you very much, sir.
Lamarr: As Attorney General, I can assure you… that a suitable sheriff will be found to restore the peace in Rock Ridge. Meeting is adjourned. Oh, I am sorry, sir. I didn't mean to overstep my bounds. You say that.
Le Petomane: What?
Lamarr: Meeting is adjourned.
Le Petomane: It is?
Lamarr: No. You say that, Governor.
Le Petomane: What?
Lamarr: Meeting is adjourned.
Le Petomane: It is?
Lamarr: Here, play around with this for a while. [handing the Governor a paddle ball]
Le Petomane: Thank you, Hedy.

Lamarr: No, it's Hedley!
Stein's portrayal is clearly one-dimensional and sexist, but it builds on the portrayal of Le Petomane as a corrupt boob.

Le Petomane: It is? Give these out to some of the boys… in lieu of pay: Frankie, Johnny, Patsy, Kelly. [handing out paddle balls] Here you go. And one for Miss Stein, my beloved secretary. Play with these, boys, in lieu of the other thing. This friggin' thing is warped. Why do I always get a warped one?
[The scene fades to Lamarr, alone at his desk in the Attorney General's office.]

Lamarr: A sheriff! But law and order is the last thing I want. Wait a minute. Maybe I could turn this thing into my advantage. If I could find a sheriff who so offends the citizens of Rock Ridge… that his very appearance would drive them out of town… But where would I find such a man? Why am I asking you? [speaking to the camera and breaking the fourth wall]

[Lamarr hears the gallows trap open, walks over to the window and sticks his head out.]

Boris [speaking to Bart]: Welcome to Hanging House. Not to worry… everyone is equal in my eye.

[Lamarr turns back inside, laughs and chokes on a candy. The scene fades back to an empty desk at the Governor's office where there is movement behind the curtains.]

Le Petomane: Oh, not my ear! Not in my ear!
Lamarr [walking into the room with Bart]: Governor! Official business, sir.
Le Petomane [his head emerges from the curtains]: Is it important?
Lamarr: It's very crucial.
Le Petomane: Be with you in a minute. Throw something on and stay in that position. Sorry, gentlemen. [walks into the room while adjusting his pants] I was just, ah, walking the parapet, taking a look around. What can I do for you?

Lamarr: Governor, as per your instructions… I'd like you to meet the new sheriff of Rock Ridge.
"Frankie, Johnny" is a pun on the song "Frankie and Johnny".Wikipedia "Patsy, Kelly" is a pun on the actress Patsy KellyWikipedia (1910–1981). "Patsy" can also mean "a person who is easily manipulated or victimized."[59]


Le Petomane: I'd be delighted… Wow! [He finally notices Bart standing behind Lamarr, then speaks to Lamarr.] I've got to talk to you. Come here. [He puts his arm around Bart without looking to see who it is.] Have you gone berserk? Can't you see that man is a ni… [He sees that he's holding Bart instead of Lamarr.] Wrong person. Forgive me. No offense intended. Have you gone berserk? [He then turns back, puts his arm around Lamarr and walks away from Bart.] Can't you see that man is a ni?
Lamarr: Don't worry, sir.
Le Petomane: I've always trusted your judgment before… but haven't you taken a giant leap from your good senses?

Lamarr: Please, don't fly off the handle, sir. I'm about to make you an historic figure. Maybe even get you a cabinet post.
  • "Ni" actually appears in the written script as "nig" (which could have been interpreted as a slang equivalent of 'nigger'[60]), but in the film itself sounds more like "nih" (/nɪʔ/), which more clearly indicates an inability of the governor to say the intended word.
  • This shows that Le Petomane, despite being a corrupt boob, is still a genteel racist, who cannot even bear to utter racial slurs but who will happily give insincere apologies for perceived offenses.

Le Petomane: A cabinet post! [Lamarr and Le Petomane are now standing between golden busts of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.]

Lamarr: Yes.
Le Petomane: Did you say that? Wonderful!
Lamarr: Yes, the first man ever to appoint a black sheriff! Just think, sir… Washington, Jefferson
Bart [smoking a cigar and sitting at the Governor's desk with his feet up on the desk]: Lincoln!
Lamarr: Le Petomane! Sir, you have the seeds of greatness in you. Nurse them, caress them, pour water on them. Don't short-change yourself, sir.
Le Petomane: It'll never work. They'll kill him dead in one day!
Lamarr: One day is all we'll need to secure your name in the annals of Western history. And to get for you a nomination for, dare I say…?
Bart: Dare, dare!
Lamarr: The Presidency!
Le Petomane: Wow!

Lamarr: Hail to the Chief! [hums the tuneWikipedia]
Bass Reeves, c. 1910
Bass Reeves,Wikipedia who was speculated as the inspiration for Bart,[61] was the first black deputy marshal and was appointed in 1875. The first black sheriff was actually Walter Moses Burton,Wikipedia who was elected in 1869 in Fort Bend County, Texas. Both men had been born into slavery. Reeves was in many ways more remarkable than the fictional Sheriff Bart: fleeing his post as his master's servant during battle, probably subsequently fighting for the Union, learning several American Indian languages in Indian Territory after the Civil War, becoming a sharpshooter and the fiercest marshal in the Indian Territory and Arkansas, and arresting white men for lynchings and hate crimes.[62][63]


Le Petomane [hugs the bust of Lincoln]: "Four score and seven years ago… our forefathers brought forth on this…"
Miss Stein: Are you coming back?
Le Petomane: In a moment, dear. Gentlemen, affairs of state must take precedent over… the affairs of state.
Lamarr: Yes, of course, sir, we understand.
Le Petomane: Will you make all the arrangements?
Lamarr: I'll make all the arrangements. Especially the funeral.

Lamarr: Wonderful working with you. Good luck!
  • Le Petomane quotes the beginning of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.Wikipedia
  • Here, Lamarr has seemingly succeeded in his plot at land-grabbing by simultaneously pandering to the ego of the puppet/boob Governor while playing to the expected vulgar racism of the people of Rock Ridge. This type of strategy is similar to Nixon's Southern Strategy of 1968 and 1972.

Sheriff Bart[edit]

[The scene opens with Bart in a spiffy sheriff's uniform riding a beautiful palomino horse across the arid landscape. The horse's color matches Bart's uniform, and the horse has Gucci saddlebags. Orchestral jazz music is in the background. Sheriff Bart then rides up to the Count Basie OrchestraWikipedia playing "April in Paris" in the middle of the plains and gives Count Basie a low five.Wikipedia Bart then rides off into the distance. Cut to Rock Ridge where the townspeople are preparing a welcome for the new sheriff.]

Howard Johnson: Hurry up, get those flags up.He'll be here soon.

Olson Johnson: I just got a telegram from the governor's office. The sheriff will be here at noon!
Album cover for "April in Paris", Count Basie and his orchestra. "Ah, bonjour, Mme. Et n'est-ce pas une belle matinée?"

Gucci was founded in 1921. The Count Basie Orchestra was founded in 1935. The 'low five' dates to the 1920s.

The "April in Paris" song is ironic for its situation in the arid plains, but the scene is also an example of the estrangement effect: an entire modern orchestra in the middle of nowhere and the first black sheriff from the 1870s acknowledging each other.

Basie's original arrangement of the song leaves out the somewhat saccharine lyrics, lyrics that are superficially a love song but more accurately an ode to Paris. In the movie, only the rousing finale is played, leaving out the partly-melancholy beginning. For African Americans, Paris was a city of refuge at various points in history, where they could escape American racism and Jim Crow laws.[64] The album cover emphasizes these aspects of the song, showing simple public affection between an African American (Count Basie) and a white Parisian woman, something that was dangerous if not unthinkable in many parts of the US at the time of the album's release (1957).[65]

Howard Johnson: Noon! I'd better rehearse my speech! "As Honorary Chairman of the Welcoming Committee… it is my privilege to extend to you a laurel and hearty handshake!"

Harriett van Johnson: Wonderful!
Olson Johnson: Excellent!
Rev. Johnson: Lovely!
Dr. Samuel Johnson: Gabby, Can you see him yet?
Gabby Johnson [peering through a telescope from a roof]: The sheriff's coming!
Howard Johnson: Ring out the church bells! Strike up the band.

[Cheering and excitement among the townspeople]

Gabby Johnson [peers again through the telescope, then shouts]: Hey, the sheriff is a n… [sound of the church bell drowns out the word]
Dr. Samuel Johnson: What did he say?
Olson Johnson: The sheriff is near!
Gabby Johnson: No, no, dagblame it, goldarnit, the sheriff is a n… [church bell again]

[Bart rides into town into ensuing dead silence and stunned looks as people see him.]

Howard Johnson [looking at his prepared welcome statement and not noticing Bart]: "As Chairman of the Welcoming Committee… it is my privilege to extend a laurel and hearty handshake to our new… [looks up at Bart] nigger.

[The "Welcome Sheriff" sign on the welcoming platform seems to roll up on its own accord. Bart steps toward the platform and rolls the sign back down. Bart nonchalantly walks to the top of the platform with the other dignitaries.]

Sheriff Bart: Excuse me while I whip this out.

[He pulls something from behind his belt. The crowd screams. Are people screaming because they think he's pulling a gun out or because they think he's pulling his penis out?… It's left to the imagination. People calm down when they see it's a piece of paper.]

Sheriff Bart (reading from proclamation): "By the power vested in me…" [We hear the sound of guns being cocked throughout] by the Honorable William J. Le Petomane… [Five men step up to the platform with guns drawn.] I hereby assume the duties of the Office of Sheriff… [Then Howard, Olson and Samuel also draw guns.] in and for the Township of Rock Ridge." [Close up of Howard and Olson with guns drawn at Bart.]

"Laurel and hearty" is a pun on Laurel and Hardy,Wikipedia who began their career together in the 1920s.

Rev. Johnson: Gentlemen, let us not allow anger to rule the day. As your spiritual leader, I implore you… [raises the Bible high above his head] to pay heed to this good book and what it has to say! [Someone blasts a hole in the Bible.] Son, you're on your own. [The Rev. leaves.]
[Close up of two more guns being loaded. Cut to Howard, Olson and Samuel also drawing guns at Bart again. Bart himself holds a gun to his head.]

Sheriff Bart (affecting a villainous voice): Hold it! The next man makes a move, the nigger gets it!
Olson Johnson: Hold it, men. He's not bluffing.
Dr. Samuel Johnson: Listen to him, men. He's just crazy enough to do it.

Sheriff Bart (villainous voice): Drop it! Or I swear I'll blow this nigger's head all over this town!
Rev. Johnson engages in something approaching bibliolatry by holding the Bible in the air and vaguely, rather than specifically, referring to its contents. We will never know whether he was referring to the Book of Joshua or to James 2:8. The man who shot the gun apparently voted for the Book of Joshua.

Sheriff Bart (affecting a whiny, Uncle Tom type of voice): Lordy, Lord, he's desperate! Do what he say! Do what he say!
[Men are shown lowering and dropping their guns. Bart pretends to be pushing himself off the platform with the gun as if he was taking himself hostage.]

Harriet van Johnson: Isn't anybody going to help that poor man?
Dr. Samuel Johnson: Hush, Harriet. That's a sure way to get him killed.
Sheriff Bart (whiny voice): Help me, help me… somebody help me! [Bart enters the jailhouse as the townspeople continue to look concerned.]
Sheriff Bart (villainous voice): Shut up! [Bart puts his other hand on his own mouth.]
Sheriff Bart (normal voice): [inside the front door of the jailhouse] Oh, baby, you are so talented… And they are so dumb!

[Cut to the Rock Ridge Town Council meeting being held at the church. A list of all the members of the council (all named Johnson) is listed behind the pulpit.]
Rev. Johnson: Order. Goddamn it! I said, "Order"!
Bart is basically playing one stereotype of African Americans (Black Brute), against another (Uncle Tom) in order to trick the townspeople. Previously, we also saw Bart playing the part of the trickster by trying to use the "one-drop rule" against Lyle.

Howard Johnson: You know, Nietzsche says, "Out of chaos comes order."
Olson Johnson: Blow it out your ass, Howard! [takes a swig from Gabby's booze bottle]
Rev. Johnson: Now everyone be quiet… whilst we listen to Harriet van Johnson, our esteemed schoolmarm… as she reads a telegram that she herself has composed to the governor, expressing our feelings about the new sheriff.
Harriett van Johnson (reading softly): "To the Honorable William J. Le Petomane, Governor.
Crowd: Louder! Speak up! We can't hear you!
Harriett van Johnson: Forgive me, I'm not used to public speaking. [shouting angrily] "We, the white, God-fearing citizens of Rock Ridge… wish to express our extreme displeasure… with your choice of sheriff. Please remove him immediately. [applause] The fact that you have sent him here… just goes to prove that you are the leading asshole in the state. [applause]

[Cattle walk calmly behind the church. Change scenes back to the jailhouse.]

Sheriff Bart (singing): "De Camptown ladies sing dis song, Doo-da doo-da." [Bart hangs two wanted posters up on the bulletin board.] "De Camptown racetrack five mile long. Oh, de doo-dah day."

[Disembodied groaning sound, then cut to an upside-down man in a jail cell. Cut back to Bart.]

Sheriff Bart: The drunk in number two must be awake. [cut to Bart walking towards the cell]
Sheriff Bart: Are we awake? [to man in jail cell]
Jim [played by Gene WilderWikipedia]: [looking up at Bart, who appears upside down to him] We're not sure. Are we black?
Sheriff Bart: Yes, we are.
Jim: Then we're awake. But we're very puzzled. I think I better straighten myself out. [struggles to right himself]
Sheriff Bart: Need any help?
Jim: All I can get. [Bart enters the cell and helps Jim to a standing position.] Thanks.
Sheriff Bart: That's okay. Sit down over here. [They sit and Jim takes a bottle from under the mattress.]
Sheriff Bart: Maybe you should eat something first.
Jim: No, thanks. Food makes me sick. [He takes a big swig from the bottle.]
Sheriff Bart: A man drink like that he don't eat, he is going to die.
Jim: When?
Sheriff Bart: What's your name?
Jim: My name is Jim, but most people call me… Jim.
Sheriff Bart: Okay, Jim, since you are my guest and I am your host… what is your pleasures? What do you like to do?

Jim: Oh, I don't know. Play chess… screw.
Nietzsche in 1882
  • Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) has often been paraphrased as saying something like "From chaos, comes order." but the actual quote comes from his book Thus Spoke ZarathustraWikipedia (Also sprach Zarathustra), published in the 1890s.[66] Nietzsche actually wrote, "I tell you: one must still have chaos in one, to give birth to a dancing star. I tell you: ye have still chaos in you."[67] ("Ich sage euch: Man muss noch Chaos in sich haben, um einen tanzenden Stern gebären zu können. Ich sage euch: ihr habt noch Chaos in euch."[68] The more concise quote that Howard Johnson uses actually derives from Freemasonry, Ordo ab Chao (Order from Chaos).[66][69]
  • Notably, Nietzsche's idea of the eternal recurrence occurs in Thus Spoke Zarathustra,[70] and is thus referenced by Blazing Saddles' frequent jumping between 1874 and 1974. Furthermore, Nietzsche's philosophy has been cited as one of the antecedents of postmodernism.[71]
  • Blazing Saddles as a postmodernist film makes it noteworthy that following Nietzsche's death, his sister reworked his work to fit her nationalist ideology.[72] The reworked writings were adopted by the Nazis, but after the fall of Nazi Germany, scholars reinterpreted Nietzsche's work, which then became recognized as fundamental to postmodernism.[72]

Sheriff Bart: Let's play chess.
[Cut to the chess game in the jail office]

Sheriff Bart: Checkmate.
Jim: What?
Sheriff Bart: Checkmate.
Jim: Why, you devious son-of-a-bitch! Happy days! [They drink a toast, Jim with a bottle and Bart with a glass. Jim takes a huge swig.]
Sheriff Bart: Man, why do you do that to yourself?
Jim: Oh, you don't really want to know that.
Sheriff Bart: I do, I do!
Jim: Well, if you must pry.
Sheriff Bart: I must, I must!
Jim: I don't know if you ever heard of me before, but… I used to be called the Waco Kid.
Sheriff Bart: The Waco Kid. He had the fastest hands in the West!
Jim: In the world!
Sheriff Bart: If you're the Kid, then show me something.
Jim: Maybe a couple of years ago I could have shown you something, but today… look at that. [raises right hand steadily]
Sheriff Bart: Steady as a rock.
Jim: Yes, but I shoot with this hand. [raises left hand shaking wildly]
Sheriff Bart: See, I knew you were no Waco Kid. You were just pullin' my lariat.
Jim: Dearie, dear. Well, OK. [stands up] See that king?
Sheriff Bart: Yeah.
Jim: Put your hands on both sides of it. [Bart puts his hands there.] Now when I say, "go," you try to grab it first.
Sheriff Bart: Man, that's no contest. You're a mile away.
Jim: Anyway, when you hear the word "go", you just try to grab it. Ready? Go! [Bart closes his hands around the king, then opens them confidently only to reveal nothing.] You looking for this? [shows the king]
Sheriff Bart: Well, raise my rent! You are the kid!
Jim: Was. Yeah, I was the Kid.

Sheriff Bart: What happened?
Two things are subtly established by this initial interaction. First, Jim recognizes that Bart is black, but it is otherwise inconsequential to his relationship towards him. Second, Jim likes screwing, but it is left ambiguous as to whether Jim likes screwing women or whether he is actually making a pass at Bart. Bart recognizes the ambiguity, but rather than forcing Jim to disambiguate or resorting to gay panic, Bart invites Jim to play chess. Thus, Jim's possible homosexuality is also left as inconsequential to their relationship.

Jim: Well, it got so that every pissant prairie punk… who thought he could shoot a gun… would ride into town to try out the Waco Kid. I must have killed more men than Cecil B. De Mille. It got pretty gritty. I started to hear the word "draw" in my sleep. Then one day… I was just walking down the street and I heard a voice behind me say, "Reach for it, mister!" I spun around. And there I was face to face… with a 6-year-old kid! I just threw my guns down and walked away. The little bastard shot me in the ass! So I limped to the nearest saloon, crawled inside a whiskey bottle… and I've been there ever since.

Sheriff Bart: Have a drink.
Jim: Anyway, that's all ancient history. Now you tell me your story. What's a dazzling urbanite like you doing in a rustic setting like this?
Sheriff Bart: If you really must pry.

Jim: I must, I must!
Cecil B. De Mille: presumed innocent IRL

Cecil B. De MilleWikipedia (1881–1959) directed 70 feature films. he filmed Westerns, and was best known for his epics. Notable with regard to Blazing Saddles, is his film Samson and Delilah,Wikipedia which had lots of killing and also starred Hedy Lamarr. He was not known to have killed anyone in real life.

This scene (and The Waco Kid himself) is both a parody of and homage to a 1959 The Twilight Zone episode, "Mr. Denton on Doomsday". The character, Al Denton, used to be known as the fastest shooter in the state, which resulted in being constantly challenged by others who wanted to prove they were the fastest shooter. After getting "called out" by a 16-year-old kid, and killing the kid, Mr. Denton became an alcoholic wreck.[73]

Sheriff Bart: Well, back in '56… my folks and I were part of this long wagon train moving West. [Flashback to the wagon train] Well, not exactly part of it. [Pan to a lone wagon in the distance] You might say we were bringing up the rear, when suddenly,… from out of the West, came the entire Sioux Nation! And let me tell you, baby, they were open for business! Naturally, the white folks didn't let us travel in they circle… [The Sioux are shown attacking the wagon circle.] so we made our own. [A lone wagon is shown circling, then a three Sioux on horseback approach the lone wagon that is now still.]
"Bring up the rear" is a reference to Jim Crow laws, which included African Americans being required to ride in the back of public buses.

The use of the word 'they' as a possessive ("the white folks didn't let us travel in they circle") is indicative of some forms of African American Vernacular English, and in this case shows that Bart used a more vernacular form of English as a child, but speaks a more standard form of English as an adult.


Sioux chief [played by Mel Brooks in redface] (in Yiddish): Shvartzes! No, no, zayt nisht meshuge. Loz im geyn! (then in English, to the African American family of Young Bart): Cop a walk. It's all right.
African American woman: Thank you.
African American man: Thank you.

Young Bart: Thank you.

Yiddish: שוואַרץס! טאָ, טאָ, זיַיט נישט משוגע. לאז אים גיין‎ ("Blacks! No, no, don't be crazy. Let it go!")

Brooks' portrayal of an American Indian might be considered the only legitimate use of redface (a non-Native American actor portraying a Native American) in a movie because by Brooks's use of Yiddish, it acknowledges that the actor is not a Native American but in fact is Jewish. In this way, Brooks is actually commenting on the historical racism of Hollywood, as many Native American characters were historically portrayed by Jews.[74]

The call to loz im geyn ("let it go!") here also carries a greater dual significance. It references the famous spiritual song Go Down Moses,[75] a powerful anthem of freedom for enslaved and emancipated African Americans, and by doing so in Yiddish, it also calls directly to the Torah verse upon which Go Down Moses is based: "And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness." (Exodus 5:1)

A Jewish person in redface speaking Yiddish may also obliquely reference the pseudohistory of Native Americans as one of the Ten Lost Tribes that has been propagated by Mormons.[76]

Sioux chief (to the African Americans): Abi gezunt ("be well"). Take off. (then to his fellow Sioux): Host du gezen in dayne lebn ("have you ever seen in your life?") They're darker than us!
Sheriff Bart: And the rest is history. Impressed? [Jim is snoring.] Always like to keep my audience riveted!
Abi gezunt (אַבי געזונט, usually transliterated as "Abi gesint") is Yiddish for "As long as you are healthy [you can be happy]."

Never mind that shit, here comes Mongo![edit]

[The scene opens with cowboys eating dinner around a campfire. A closeup shot reveals they are eating baked beans. A cowboy belches, then Lyle releases what may be the first fart in Hollywood history, followed by a chorus of cowboy farts. Taggart comes out from a tent and sniffs around, walks towards the cowboys, and waves his hat vigorously.]

A cowboy: How about some more beans, Mr. Taggart?
Taggart: I'd say you've had enough! I understand there's a new sheriff in town. Who wants to kill him?
Various cowboys (raising their hands vigorously): I do! [Taggart looks around deciding which one to pick.]
Lyle: I know. Why don't we give him to Mongo? [points towards Mongo, who is eating beans with a huge spoon directly out of a pot]
Taggart: Holy shit, that's too cruel! I'll be danged! That is a unique idea! [walks over to Mongo] Down, boy, down, boy, down, Mongo! [beating him with swagger stick] Hey, it's me. Taggart, your old boss. Here, smell. Smell. [offers his gloved hand] That's a good Mongo. Hey, how about it? How would you like to mutilate that new sheriff? [Mongo seems quite happy with this.] All right! Here, have a cigar. [Mongo lights the cigar directly in the campfire and rises up with both himself and the cigar smoking.]

[The scene changes to the inside of the jailhouse with Jim shaving and Bart rolling a cigarette. Then Bart's mannerisms convey that he actually rolled a marijuana joint, and he then lights it. Jim sniffs the air indicating that he notices something unusual.]

Jim: Oh, by the way, I got a note this morning.
Sheriff Bart: From who?

Jim: Well, I'm not sure. It was addressed to the Deputy Spade.[77]

Sheriff Bart: Well, once I establish myself in this town… Deputy Spade might turn out to be a groovy position. Here. [handing Jim the joint]

Jim: [inhales deeply on the joint, then initially speaks in falsetto] Listen, Bart, I want you to do me a favor. I don't want you going out there this morning. You can't win these people over, no matter what you do. They're just not gonna accept you.

[Bart looks over at Jim and pretends to draw his guns quickly, but Jim responds more quickly with finger guns.Wikipedia]

Sheriff Bart: I'm glad those fingers ain't loaded!
Jim: Just like old times.
Sheriff Bart: Like I told you, once you establish yourself, they've got to accept you. Catch you later.

Jim: Good luck. [Bart walks out onto the sidewalk.]
Whether the use of the term 'spade' by Bart here is derogatory[77] or not is ambiguous, because there was some attempt to rehabilitate the term among African Americans during the 1960s-1970s.[78]

Sheriff Bart: Ah, good morning, ma'am. And isn't it a lovely morning?

Elderly Woman [The same one as before]: Up yours, nigger!

[Cut to Jim consoling Bart in the jailhouse]

Jim: What did you expect? "Welcome, sonny. Make yourself at home. Marry my daughter." You've got to remember these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… Morons! [Bart breaks into a laugh.]

[A thundering sound is coming from offscreen.]
Sheriff Bart: What the hell is that?
"Morning, sheriff!" was a stereotypical line from Westerns, as noted by the first black sheriff of Wyoming.[note 7]

[Cut to the street where Mongo is riding a Brahman bull.]

Mexican man: Mongo! Santa María! [flees in terror]

[Mongo turns the corner, revealing a "Yes" written on one of the bull's buttocks and a "No" on the other.]

Street salesman [speaking to crowd]: I believe in it. And if any one of you… friends and neighbors, kind of gather around and… [noticing Mongo] Holy shit! [the crowd flees in panic]

[Cut to the saloon where Olson Johnson, Howard Johnson, and a third man are having a conversation.]

This is a pun on the Cuban-American musician's name, Mongo SantamaríaWikipedia (1917–2003).


Howard Johnson: And they say that now in Paris, France, even as we speak… Louis Pasteur has devised a new vaccine… that will obliterate anthrax once and for all.

[Cut back to the street where Mongo is tying up the bull to a hitching post.]

Dr. Samuel Johnson: [riding his horse up to Mongo] Hey, you can't park that animal over there! It's illegal. [Mongo walks up and punches the horse, knocking down both the horse and the doctor.

[Cut back to the saloon.]

Howard Johnson: Think of it, gentlemen. Hoof-and-mouth disease a thing of the past!
Olson Johnson: [looking up] Never mind that shit, here comes Mongo! [Mongo enters, breaking down the saloon doors.]

[Cut to the jailhouse.]

Sheriff Bart: I don't know what it is.
Van Johnson: [excitedly, speaking to an unoccupied desk] Sheriff, Mongo's back! [then realizes it's unoccupied and walks over to Bart] He's breaking up the whole town! You've got to help us, please!
Sheriff Bart: [to Jim] Did you hear that? Now it's "please". This morning I couldn't get the time of day. Who is this Mongo, anyway?
Jim: Well, Mongo ain't exactly a "who"."He's more of a "what".
Van Johnson: What he said.
Sheriff Bart: Well, I don't know…
Van Johnson: Oh, thank you very much! [opens the door and shouts toward the street] The fool's going to… I mean, the sheriff's going to do it. [leaves]

[Bart is about to put his gun holster on.]
Jim: No, no, don't do that! If you shoot him, you'll just make him mad.

The irony of Howard Johnson's propounding about Pasteur is that he is drinking beer at a saloon where Anal Johnson regularly cleaned the glasses with spit. Besides Pasteur having developed a vaccine for anthrax in 1881 (5 years after Howard Johnson claimed), he had developed the germ theory of disease in the 1850s, and in the 1880s that beer could be ruined by microbial contaminants and preserved with pasteurization.[80][81]

[Cut to the saloon where Mongo is holding several men against the wall by pushing an upright piano against them. Bart enters the saloon dressed in a uniform that is reminiscent of telegram deliverymen.]

Sheriff Bart (in an affected voice): Candygram for Mongo! [stares in disbelief at the scene, then struts up nonchalantly to Mongo] Candygram for Mongo! Candygram for Mongo!
Mongo [played by Alex KarrasWikipedia]: Me, Mongo.
Sheriff Bart: Sign, please. [Mongo signs and receives the box.] Thank you.

[Bart struts out and puts his fingers in his ears as the Merrie MelodiesWikipedia song plays in the background.]
Mongo: Mongo like candy. [The candy box explodes in Mongo's face.]

This scene with the candygram confirms Bart as portraying a trickster archetype. Cleavon Little's performance is reminiscent of Bugs Bunny,Wikipedia and the Merrie Melodies music is the same as was used in Bugs Bunny cartoons.[82][83] Furthermore, Bugs Bunny has been observed as also fitting the trickster archetype.[16]

Seduced and abandoned[edit]

[The scene opens with Lamarr taking a bubble bath with Taggart scrubbing his back with a brush.]

Lamarr: A little further down, to the right.
Taggart: I thought sure that Mongo would just mash him up… into little bitty sheriff meatballs. I just don't understand it.
Lamarr: Be still.
Taggart: Yes, sir.
Lamarr: My mind is a raging torrent… flooded with rivulets of thought… cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.
Taggart: Goldarn it, Mr. Lamarr… you use your tongue prettier than a $20 whore.
Lamarr: [looks up contemptuously at Taggart] Shitkicker. [looks away] Wait a minute, that's it! Of course. And it will work!
Taggart: You bet it will! What will work?
Lamarr: Elementary, cactus-head! The beast has failed. And when the beast fails, it's time to call in beauty.
Taggart: Beauty?
Lamarr: Yes, of course. She's never failed me before. She'll turn him into jelly! She'll bring him to his knees! [lifts leg up and panics] Where's my froggie? Where's my froggie?
Taggart: I don't know. I didn't see it when I came in.
Lamarr: Damn your eyes, look for it!
Taggart: [reaches into the tub, apparently grabbing Lamarr's crotch by mistake] Sorry, sir.
Lamarr: Hurry, get it. Will you look around?
Taggart: [seeing it on a table] Oh, there it is. [hands rubber froggie to Lamarr]
Lamarr: That was a close one! Daddy loves Froggie. Froggie love Daddy? Ribbit. Ribbit.

[Cut to the jailhouse. Mongo is asleep and chained to the outside of a jail cell.]
Jim: I don't know how you did it.

Sheriff Bart: He was nothing. The bitch was inventing the candygram. They probably won't give me credit for it. [knocking sound, Bart opens the window]

Elderly Woman: Good evening, sheriff. Sorry about the "Up yours, nigger." I hope this apple pie will in some small way say thank you for your… ingenuity and courage in defeating that horrible Mongo.
Sheriff Bart: Thank you. Much obliged. Good night. [He closes window, then knocks are heard again. He opens the window again.]
Elderly Woman: Of course, you'll have the good taste not to mention that I spoke to you.
Sheriff Bart: Of course.
Elderly Woman: Thank you.

Sheriff Bart: [closes window again] I'm rapidly becoming a big underground success in this town.
"They probably won't give me credit for it." This is an example of how a caste system requires that members of lower castes not be given credit for their achievements so as to keep them within their place.
They were not to be credited for their ideas or innovations, even at the risk of progress for everyone. Crediting them would undermine the pretext for their enslavement, meaning their presumed inferiority in anything other than servitude.
—Isabel Wilkerson[46]:231

Jim: See, in another 25 years you'll be able to shake their hands in broad daylight.

Sheriff Bart: Well, I'm not going to hold my breath for it, bruh.
Jim: Come on, I don't want to be late. That Lili von Shtupp is opening tonight.

Sheriff Bart: Lili von who?
"In another 25 years" is a reference to the gradualist approach that was argued by some white Southerners prior to emancipation from slavery and prior to school desegregation.

Jim: Shtupp.
Outside the Berlin premier of the the stage version of The Producers, where swastikas were replaced with pretzels on the banners
  • 'Shtup' (one 'p') is English slang derived from Yiddish (שטופּ, 'push') for fucking.[84]

  • Just after the last word in this scene, the first few bars of the song "Springtime for Hitler" can be heard in the background. The song is from the fictitious play of the same name that is pivotal to Brooks' 1967 film The Producers.Wikipedia Just as those notes begin the opening song of the musical Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp With Adolf and Eva at BerchtesgadenWikipedia within The Producers, the same notes introduce the scene of the cabaret-style Lili's performance.

[Cut to men looking at a sign outside the saloon, "Hedley Lamarr Presents Lili Von Shtupp, the Teutonic Titwillow, Now Appearing at the Rock Ridge Saloon"]
[Cut to stage dressing room]

The Mikado poster from 1885
"Titwillow" is a reference to the oddly sexually-suggestive song of heartbreak, "Tit-willow", from the 1885 comic opera, The Mikado.Wikipedia Like Blazing Saddles, The Mikado is set in one place (Japan, of no particular time period), but is actually a commentary on another (contemporary British society).[85] The Mikado, like Blazing Saddles, has been criticized for political incorrectness in the modern era.[85] Also like Blazing Saddles' redface, The Mikado engaged in yellowface, but unlike Blazing Saddles, was not transcendent and is part of the modern criticism against it.

Lili von Shtupp [played by Madeline Kahn,Wikipedia who affects a peculiar German accent (substituting 'w' for 'r') and performs an homage to Marlene DietrichWikipedia (1901–1992)]: [knocking sound] Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome. Come on in.

Lamarr: Lili.
Lili: Hedy.
Lamarr: It's Hedley. For you, my dear. [gives her a bouquet of flowers]
Lili: Oh, how ordinary. [tosses them on the floor]
Lamarr: [lusting over her stockinged-legs] Oh, Lili, Lili, Lili, legs, Lili, Lili! I can't find the words to truly express my joy… at the rekindling of our association.
Lili: Bullshit, what's the job?
Lamarr: I love it when you talk dirty.

[Cut to saloon with Bart and Jim entering and sitting down. Then cut back to the dressing room where Lamarr is groping Lili.]
Lili: Come on, Lamarr, let's get down to bwass tacks. What do you want me to do?
"Willkommen"Wikipedia is a bawdy song from the 1966 musical CabaretWikipedia that begins with the line, "Willkommen! and bienvenue! Welcome!" Cabaret is set in late-Weimar era Germany, and includes the rise of the Nazis as part of the plot line.

Lamarr: [stops groping and stands up] I want you to seduce and abandon the sheriff of Rock Ridge. You think you can do it?
Lamarr is effectively trying to pimp-out Lili, thus harking back to the sign on Lamarr's office door ("…State Procurer"); however, there is no evidence that Lamarr is acting in his official capacity.

Lili: [shows her leg] Is Bismarck a hewwing?
Lamarr: Oh, Lili, you're magnificent! Kiss me! [Lili turns around quickly as Lamarr approaches, and Lamarr bumps his teeth on the back of her head]

[Cut to the saloon stage]

Master of ceremonies: And now, folks, the gal you've all been waiting for… the Bavarian Bombshell herself! Let's hear it for Lili von Shtupp! [Lili enters the stage and begins singing.]

"Bismarck" both is (pickled herringWikipedia) and is not (Otto von BismarckWikipedia (1815–1898)) a 'hewwing'. In the photo, Bismarck is wearing a Pickelhaube (or spiked helmet) and uniform similar to the chorus dancers who follow shortly.

Marlene Dietrich in The Blue Angel

Lili: "♫Here I stand, the goddess of desire… set men on fire. I have this power. "Morning, noon and night, it's drink and dancing… some quick romancing, and then a shower. Stage-door Johnnies constantly surround me…  they always hound me with one request. Who can satisfy their lustful habit? I'm not a rabbit. I need some rest. I'm tired… sick and tired of love… I've had my fill of love…  from below and above. Tired, tired of being admired… tired of love uninspired. Let's face it, I'm tired. I've been with thousands of men again and again. They promise the moon. They're always coming and going and going and coming… and always too soon. Right, girls? I'm tired. Tired of playing the game. Ain't it a crying shame? "I'm so tired. Goddamn it, I'm exhausted!♫ [ends singing and sits down at the stage edge] Hello, cowboy, what's your name?
Cowboy: Tex, ma'am.
Lili: "Tex Ma'am"? Tell me, Tex Ma'am… are you in show business?
Cowboy 1: Nope.
Lili: Well, then, why don't you get your friggin' feet off the stage? [She kicks his feet off, then walks down the stage.] Hello, handsome. [to Cowboy 2] Is that a 10-gallon hat [on your crotch], or are you just enjoying the show? [She smirks.]

Cowboy 3: [swaggers onto the stage, and up to Lili] Oh, Miss Lili, oh, my lovely lady! [Lili pretends she's about to kiss him, then knees him in the crotch, and he falls off stage.]
  • Kahn is specifically impersonating Dietrich's performance in the 1930 Weimar-era film The Blue AngelWikipedia (Der blaue Engel) as both an homage and a parody. It is an homage as Kahn plays Lili to Dietrich's playing Lola Lola, also a parody as Kahn sings the anti-love song, "I'm Tired" vs. Dietrich's singing the love song, "Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuß auf Liebe eingestellt" (English version: "Falling in Love Again"). The lyrics to Lili's song also mirror the lyrics to Lola Lola's song :[86]:1,235
I was made for love

That is my universe
I can't help it
It is my nature
Love's always been my game Play it how I may
Men cluster to me
Like moths around a flame, And if their wings burn,
I know I'm not to blame

  • The film The Blue Angel is also noteworthy for its other costar, Emil Jannings,Wikipedia who was as a Nazi propagandist during World War II.[87] Dietrich, in contrast, had become a US citizen by 1937, helped fund the escape of Jews from Nazi Germany, and supported the Allies' war effort.[88]
  • A stage-door Johnny is a groupie.[89]

Lili: "♫Tired of playing the game. Ain't it a crying shame… I'm so tired.♫"

[A chorus of men dressed in German army uniforms (circa 1870s) marches on to stage]

Chorus: "♫She's tired. Sick and tired of love. Give her a break. She's had her fill of love. She's not a snake! From below and above. Can't you see she's sick? She's bushed. Tired of being admired. Let her alone. Tired of love uninspired. Don't you know she's pooped?♫"
Lili: "♫I've been with thousands of men again and again. They sing the same tune! They start with Byron and Shelley… then jump on your belly, and bust your balloon. Tired of playing the game. Ain't it a friggin' shame? I'm so…♫" Let's face it. Everything below the waist is kaput!

[Cut to Bart and Jim sitting in the back of the saloon, someone hands Bart a note]

Jim: What does it say?
Sheriff Bart: "I must see you alone in my dwessing woom right after the show.

[Cut to dressing room, knocking sound]
Lili: Welcome, come on in.
The lead singer in the dubbed-over chorus is Brooks, though he is uncredited for this. Notably, German Jews frequently served as German soldiers (including the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871[90]) until the rise of Nazism.

Sheriff Bart [enters, bearing a single red rose]: Wie gehts, meine Schatzie?

Lili: Faw out!
Sheriff Bart: For you. [handing her the rose]

Lili: A wed wose. How womantic! Have a seat, shewiff. Won't you excuse me for a moment… while I slip into something a little bit more comfortable? [suggestively]
German for: "How are you, my dear?"

Sheriff Bart: Bitte, baby.

Lili: Why don't you loosen your bullets? [stepping behind a curtain] Ahh, I feel wefweshed! [She reappears in a different stage outfit] Isn't it bwight in here? There! [blows out the lights] Isn't that bettew? [near total darkness, then a knocking sound] Pardon me, I'll be back in a moment. [She walks to the door an opens it crack.]
Lamarr: How's it going?
Lili: He's like wet sauerkraut in my hands. By mowning he will be my slave.
Lamarr: Splendid. Oh, just let me have a little feel.
Lili: Get out of here. [She closes the door, then returns to Bart.] Where were we? Where are you? Let me sit down next to you. Tell me, Schatzie… is it, ah, twu what they say about the way you people are gifted? Oh, it's twu, it's twu!

[Scene changes to morning breakfast in the dressing room]
Bitte is German for "please".

Lili: Vill you care for another schnitzengruben? [She offers a large sausage from a pot to Bart.]

Sheriff Bart: No, thank you. Fifteen is my limit on schnitzengruben.

Lili: Well, then, how about a little…? [walks over and whispers in Bart's ear]
"Schnitzengruben" is apparently a made-up word.

Sheriff Bart: Baby, please, I am not from Havana. Excuse me, honey… besides, I'm late for work. I've got some heavy chores to do.
Lili: Vill I see you later?
"Havana" is perhaps a reference to cigars as phallus symbols.

Sheriff Bart: That all depends on how much Vitamin E I can get my hands on.

Lili: No, no, you mustn't go! I need you! I never met nobody like you! I can't live without you! [restraining Bart]
Sheriff Bart: Please, you're making a German spectacle of yourself. Auf wiedersehen, baby. [Bart leaves]
Lili: Oh, what a nice guy.

[Cut to Bart opening the jailhouse door, exhausted]

Jim: Oh, deary, dear. Look what the cat dragged in.
Sheriff Bart: [lies down on a desk] What's happening in the clean world?
Jim: Bad news. I've got a writ here for Mongo's release signed by Hedley Lamarr himself.
Sheriff Bart: [taking the write] Why would a dude like Hedley Lamarr care about Mongo? It's legal. Oh, those schnitzengrubens can wipe you out! [walking over to Mongo, who is still asleep and chained to the jail cell] Wake up time! [Bart splashes a bucket of water on Mongo. Mongo yawns, stretches, and breaks the chains.] Okay, Mongo. You're free to go.
Mongo: Mongo no go.
Sheriff Bart: Oh, come on, Mongo. You're a free man.
Mongo: Mongo stay with Sheriff Bart. Sheriff first man ever whip Mongo. Mongo impressed, have deep feelings for Sheriff Bart.
Jim: Oh, you better watch out, big fella. I think Mongo's taken a little fancy to you.
Mongo: Mongo straight.
Jim: Listen, Mongo. Maybe you know why a high-roller… like Hedley Lamarr is interested in Rock Ridge.
Mongo: Don't know. Got to do with where choo-choo go.
Sheriff Bart: Mongo, why would Hedley Lamarr care about where the choo-choo goes?
Mongo: Don't know. Mongo only pawn in game of life.

Sheriff Bart: I think this might be a good time to mosey out… to where they're building the railroad… and maybe do a little snooping.
Vitamin E was discovered in 1922.[91] It has been alleged to increase human sexual functioning. This is a fallacy,[92] and not phallusy.

Mock Ridge[edit]

[The scene opens at the railroad construction. Charlie is drinking water from a barrel. He looks up and sees two horseback riders approaching from the distance. He splashes water on himself in disbelief.]

Charlie: Damn. Damn. Damn! [sees Bart and Jim up close] Hey, ya doin'? Get down offa that horse! What's happening? You shifty nigger! They said you was hung!
"Shifty nigger" would be a nasty slur, except that Charlie is overjoyed, so he is using it ironically. "Shifty" has been used as an ethnic stereotyping characteristic, particularly against Jews,[93] but occasionally against African Americans.[94]

Sheriff Bart: And they were right!
Bart makes a joke out of Charlie's ungrammatical use of 'hung' instead of 'hanged' vs. the Black brute stereotype of African American men having large penises.

Charlie: Look at that star! [touches sheriff's badge] Civil service!

Sheriff Bart: [Charlie hugging Bart] Wait. Back off, scamp. You are addressing the duly appointed sheriff of Rock Ridge.
Charlie: Rock Ridge? Hey, the railroad is going through there! [Suddenly other African American laborers rush up to greet Bart.] Back up off him, brother! Don't you rush him, brother and mess up the brother's fine [clothing]!

[A group of cowboys rides towards them. Taggart and Lyle stare at them.]
Taggart: Holy mother of pearl! It's that nigger that went and hit me on the head with the shovel! What the hell do you think you're doin' with that tin star, boy?
Rather than saying, "Hey, you're a sheriff!", Charlie refers to the fact that civil service represented an important way for many African Americans to escape poverty, particularly in the South.[95]

Sheriff Bart: Watch that 'boy' shit, redneck! You're talking to the sheriff of Rock Ridge.
Taggart: If that don't beat all! Here we take the good time and trouble to slaughter every last Indian in the West, and for what? So they can appoint a sheriff that's blacker than any Indian! I am depressed.
Lyle: Excuse me, sir, but I sure do hate to see you like this. What if me and the boys were to shoot that nigger dead? Would that pep you up some?
Taggart: That might help.
Lyle: All right, boys. On the count of three.

Jim: I wouldn't do that if I were you.
This represents a turning point for Bart, insofar as he calls out Taggart for his racism and also ceases using derogatory racist terminology, 'boy' in this case and 'nigger' previously, in order to deceive his oppressors.

Lyle: Don't pay no attention to that alky. He can't even hold a gun, much less shoot it. [Jim licks his fingers as if he's about to draw his gun.] Like I said. On the count of three. [The cowboys draw their pistols.] One… two… three! [Each of the cowboys in succession is shot in the hand and drops their gun.]
Sheriff Bart: Well, just don't sit there looking stupid, grasping your hands in pain. How about a little applause for the Waco Kid? [The cowboys painfully clap their hands together.]
This scene is an indication that Jim, as "The Waco Kid", is a sort of 'Magical Caucasian', mocking the 'Magical Negro' tropeWikipedia[96] that has been common in Hollywood films: Jim has a disability (alcoholism), yet is able to to outgun several men with pistols at once. Unlike the typical 'Magical Negro' character, Jim does have a past. But to tell a family secret, Gene Wilder was Jewish.

[Cut to the saloon dressing room with Lili (tied to stove), Taggart, and Lamarr.]

Lamarr: All right, I'm through being Mr. Goodbar! The time has come to act and act quickly! All my plans have backfired! Instead of the people leaving, they're staying in droves!
Lili: Vhy don't you admit it? He's too much of man for you. I know. You going to need an army to beat him! You're finished. Fertig! Verfallen! Verlumpt! Verblunget! Verkackt! "♫Wir fahren auf Engelland…♫"
Lamarr: [slaps Lili] Shut up! You Teutonic twat! I must think. Wait a minute. She said army. Wait a minute, she said an army. An army of the worst dregs ever to soil the face of the West!

Taggart: Yes, sir?
  • "Mr. Goodbar" is a reference to the candy bar (introduced in 1925). The book Looking for Mr. Goodbar came out the year after Blazing Saddles was released, so is just coincidental.
  • "Fertig!" is German for 'Finished!'; "Verfallen!" is German for 'Expired!'; "Varblondzhet" or פֿאַרבלאָנדזשעט is Yiddish for 'Lost!'; Verkackt! is German for 'Fucked up!' or 'Up shit's creek!'.[97]
  • "Wir fahren auf Engelland" (English: We drive to England.) appears to be an ironic reworking of the World War I German naval song, "Matrosenlied", containing the lyric "Wir fahren gegen Engelland"" (English: We're driving against England).[98][99] The song is also known as the "Engellandlied" (England song) and was written by Hermann Löns.[99] Löns died in battle in France as an ordinary soldier during World War I, but he was posthumously elevated to folk hero by Hitler and presumptively reburied in Germany because of his nationalistic poetry.[100]


Lamarr: Take this down. [Taggart begins furiously looking for some paper.] I've decided to launch an attack that will reduce Rock Ridge to ashes!
Taggart: What do you want me to do, sir?
Lamarr: I want you to round up every vicious criminal and gunslinger in the West. Take this down. I want rustlers, cutthroats, murderers, bounty hunters… desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, half-wits, dimwits… vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits… muggers, buggerers, bushwackers, hornswagglers… horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass kickers… shit kickers and Methodists!
Taggart: Could you repeat that, sir?

[Cut to a line of horses and wagons in Rock Ridge]
Sheriff Bart: [Bart and Jim approach the line on horseback] Where's everybody going?
  • Lamarr's list of purported varieties of criminals and stupid people, possibly bad people (Indian agents), probably not bad people (bull dykes and Methodists), and innocent doggies (pugs) is guilt by association (though "pugs" could also refer to pugilisits, used more commonly in the 1870s than in the 1970s).
  • Indian agentsWikipedia existed from 1793 to shortly after 1900. They were officers of the Federal government who were often regarded as not acting in the best interests of Native Americans. Many were corrupt and/or inept.[101]
  • The term "Mexican bandits" originated in 1859 with ongoing land ownership disputes following the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848 and the US taking a vast swath of formerly Mexican land. Juan Cortina (1824–1894) was a wealthy Mexican landowner who who tried to rightfully claim his land and protect the property of other Mexicans in what had become Texas. Cortina embraced the term Mexican bandit as someone who "fought for his neighbors' rights."[102]:65 The recruitment of Mexican bandits in the film is hence ahistorical.
  • Anti-Methodist sentiment probably peaked in 1791 at the time of the Priestley Riots,Wikipedia but anti-Methodist sentiment continued through the 1870s.[103]

Olson Johnson: Read this. [unfold a poster that says, "Help Wanted: Heartless Villains for Destruction of Rock Ridge, $100 Per Day, Criminal Record Required — Apply: Hedley Lamarr. An Equal Opportunity Employer"]

Sheriff Bart: Can't you see that's the last act of a desperate man?
Howard Johnson: We don't care if it's the First Act of Henry the Fifth!Wikipedia We're leaving!
Sheriff Bart: Now, wait a minute! Wait just one doggoned minute here! Just give me 24 hours to come up with a brilliant idea to save our town. Just 24 hours, that's all I ask.

Townspeople: No!
Lyndon Johnson… wait, you're not related to those other Johnsons, are you?

"An Equal Opportunity Employer" is obviously meant ironically. The term originated from the 1964 Civil Rights Act that was signed into law by Lyndon Johnson.

The first act of Shakespeare's Henry the Fifth foreshadows what is to come. In the first act, there is a bare stage where the audience is called on to imagine a greater setting for the play. A speaker from the chorus wishes for a "muse of fire".

Sheriff Bart: You'd do it for Randolph Scott.

Townspeople: [men take off their hats] Randolph Scott!
Howard Johnson: All right, sheriff. 24 hours.

[Cut to Lamarr, Taggart, and Lyle at a table with a sign that says, "Register Here". The camera pans down a line of men, including cowboys, outlaws, German soldiers in World War II era uniforms, a Kentucky Colonel (with a Colonel Sanders white goatee and moustache), bikers with handlebars only, Mexican bandits, three Arabs with two camels, and lastly, two Ku Klux Klansmen. Bart and Jim are spying on the Klansmen from behind a boulder.]

Taggart: Next!
Lamarr: Qualifications?
Outlaw 1: Rape, murder, arson and rape.
Lamarr: You said rape twice.
Outlaw 1: I like rape. [Lamarr, Taggart, and Lyle laugh.]
Lamarr: Charming. Sign right here. Take that badge.
Taggart: Next!
Lamarr: Qualifications?
Outlaw 2: Arson, armed robbery, mayhem…
Lamarr: Wait a moment. What have you got in your mouth?
Outlaw 2: Nuffin.
Lamarr: "Nuffin", eh? Lyle.
Lyle: [Lyle pulls out a piece of chewing gum from the outlaw's mouth.] Gum!
Lamarr: Chewing gum in line, eh? I hope you brought enough for everybody.

Outlaw 2: …I didn't know there was going to be so many. [Taggart shoots him with his pistol and he collapses.]
Scott (second from right) in the film Man of the Forest
Randolph ScottWikipedia was the star of many Hollywood Western films in the 20th century. The brief but glorious fanfare here as well as the knee-jerk reaction to his name indicate a personality cult surrounding Scott (which was not true in real life).

Jim: [Cut back to Bart and Jim] Boy, is he strict!

Sheriff Bart: We've got to get in there closer and find out what's happening.
Jim: There's our ticket! [pointing to the backs of the two Klansmen who have "Have a Nice Day" with smiley faces on the backs of their robes]

[Bart hides behind the boulder.]

Jim (affecting a Southern accent): Hey, boys! [The Klansmen turn around to look.] Look what I've got here! [Jim pulls Bart from behind the boulder by the back of his collar.]
Sheriff Bart (affected accent): Hey, where da white women at? [The Klansmen run towards the boulder.]

[Bart and Jim come out from behind the boulder in Klansmen's robes, after having apparently knocked out the real Klansmen.]
Sheriff Bart: Man, that was pretty! I liked that.
This scene uses the black brute stereotype in the context of tricking the Klan by making them think they would be able to lynch a black man on the pretext of his supposed threat to Southern women's chasteness. This scene likely references the lynching-related scenes of The Birth of a Nation. In The Birth of a Nation, the prolonged scenes that gave the Klan the rationale for lynching (Gus, a Black man, chasing Elsie, a White woman, to a rocky outcrop[104]:t 2:18:00 - t 2:22:00) echo the rocky outcrop where Jim and Bart lure the Klan in Blazing Saddles. Bart's lure to the Klan of "Hey, where da white women at?" plays to the false assumption made about lynching that it was because of sex crimes by Black men against White women, when the reality was that only one-sixth of lynching victims had been accused of rape or sexual misconduct.[105][106][107]:130-121
Prelude to the lynching in The Birth of a Nation

[Cut back to the table.]

Lamarr (speaking to a Mexican bandit): Be ready to attack Rock Ridge at noon tomorrow.
Lyle: Here's your badge.
Mexican bandit: Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges! [throws the badge down] ¡Vámonos!.
Lamarr: Next! Qualifications?
Sheriff Bart: Stampeding cattle.
Lamarr: That's not much of a crime.
Sheriff Bart: Through the Vatican?

Lamarr: Kinky! Sign here. [Bart takes his hands out from within his robe's sleeves to sign.]
Actually I said, "Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges!"
This is a reworking of a line from the 1948 film, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.Wikipedia[108]

Jim [noticing that Bart's hands are not the right color for a Klansman]: Why, Rhett, how many times have I told you… to wash up after weekly cross-burning? [turning Bart's hands palm-side up as he rubs Bart's hands] See, it's coming off. [Taggart removes Bart's hood.]
"Rhett" is a likely reference to the character Rhett Butler, the male protagonist in the 1939 Confederate-apologetic film Gone With the Wind;Wikipedia the character was canonically from Charleston,Wikipedia the "capital of American slavery" through which nearly 50% of all slaves brought to American soil were trafficked.[109]

Sheriff Bart: And now, for my next impression: Jesse Owens! [Bart and Jim take off running.]

Lamarr: Seize them! Catch them!
Taggart: Hold up, men, we'll head them off at the pass!
Lamarr: Head them off at the pass? I hate that cliché! [Lamarr shoots Taggart in the foot.]

[Cut to Bart and Jim walking through bushes at night. They enter a tent where Charlie is sleeping.]

Jim: Watch it.
Sheriff Bart: Say, "hello". [putting his hand on Charlie's mouth, then taking it off]
Charlie: Hello.
Sheriff Bart: Listen to me, and listen to me good. I want you to get all the brothers together… round up all the lumber, canvas, paint and nails you can lay your hands on… and meet me tonight 3 miles due east of Rock Ridge at midnight. You understand? [Charlie nods.] Say, "Goodbye."
Charlie: Goodbye.
Sheriff Bart: "Thanks a lot, brother. [Bart and Jim leave.]
Charlie: Get up. [waking up his tent-mates]
Tent-mate: What's happening?
Charlie: Listen, we've got to get some nails, canvas…

[Cut to Bart and Jim riding to a gathering of the people of Rock Ridge outside at night]

Sheriff Bart: All right, folks, I know you're a bit confused wondering what you're doing out in the middle of the prairie in the middle of the night.

Townspeople: You bet your ass!
Owens in 1936
Jesse OwensWikipedia (1913–1980) was a famed African-American runner who won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany, leaving ironic egg all over Hitler's despicable face.

Sheriff Bart: I'm hip. Now, before the sun comes up… we're going to build on this site an exact replica of the town of Rock Ridge. Every building, every storefront, every rock and every tree… right down to the orange roof on Howard Johnson's outhouse.

Van Johnson: I get it! Tomorrow when Hedley Lamarr and his men come riding in… to destroy the real Rock Ridge… they'll actually be destroying the fake Rock Ridge! But they'll think it's the real Rock Ridge! But we'll know it's the fake Rock Ridge!
Howard Johnson: How're we going to do it? We don't have the time, and we ain't got the people.
Sheriff Bart: Wrong! There's why. [pointing to the railroad laborers coming out of the darkness]
Howard Johnson: Who the hell are they?

Sheriff Bart: Railroad workers. They've agreed to help us make our dream come true. And all they ask in return is a little plot of land… they can call their own to homestead. What do you say? [grumbling and head shaking by the townspeople]
A postcard illustrating a typical Howard Johnson's
The "orange roof" is a reference to the iconic orange roofs that appeared on Howard Johnson's restaurants from the 1930s onward.

Olson Johnson: We'll give some land to the niggers and the chinks… but we don't want the Irish!
Sheriff Bart: No deal.
While racism against the Irish was probably common in 19th-century United States,[110] it's doubtful whether it was worse than what African Americans or Chinese Americans suffered. Also noteworthy is that the mother of David Huddleston, the actor saying these lines, was of Irish descent.

Olson Johnson: Ah, prairie shit! Everybody! [The townspeople and railroad workers happily shake hands in agreement.]

Rev. Johnson: Oh, Lord… do we have the strength to carry on this mighty task in one night? Or are we just jerking off?
Disembodied voices: Amen.

[Cut to a daylight scene of the back of facades of the fake Rock Ridge]

Sheriff Bart: Okay, okay, we have done it. Now, let's see what we have done.

[Cut to townspeople admiring their handiwork, then cut to Lamarr speaking to the assembled cutthroats]

Lamarr: Men, you are about to embark on a great crusade… to stamp out runaway decency in the West. Now you will only be risking your lives… whilst I will be risking an almost certain Academy Award nomination… for Best Supporting Actor. Now raise your right hand for the pledge. [They all raise their left hands.] Right! [They switch hands.] And repeat after me. I… your name
Cutthroats: "your name"
Lamarr: Schmucks!… pledge allegiance…
Cutthroats: "pledge allegiance"
Lamarr: to Hedley Lamarr…
Cutthroats: "to Hedy Lamarr…"
Lamarr: That's Hedley!…
Cutthroats: "That's Hedley…"
Lamarr: and to the evil…
Cutthroats: "and to the evil…"
Lamarr: for which he stands!…
Cutthroats: for which he stands!
Lamarr: Now go do that voodoo that you do so well! [The cutthroats ride off.]

[Cut to the fake Rock Ridge]

Sheriff Bart: Hold the happiness. We are in trouble. Yep! We forgot one little detail.
Howard Johnson: Nothing is missing. Everything is here, down to the last hitching post.
Olson Johnson: People. There are no people.
Sheriff Bart: Now don't panic. Don't panic. We just made a perfect copy of Rock Ridge. Now all we've got to do is make perfect copies of ourselves.

Howard Johnson: But they'll be here in half an hour.
This is the turning point of the film, when people realize that they can set aside their differences and their bigotry to work against a common enemy.

Sheriff Bart: Right, so we've got to start working fast. You men start working on the dummies; Jim and Mongo, come with me. I've got an idea that will slow them down to a crawl. All right, let's go! [Cut to another location] Yeah, that's nice.
[Cut to men riding horses, they ride up to a rudimentary toll gate.]

Taggart: Le Petomane Thruway! Now what'll that asshole think of next? Has anybody got a dime? [various men say they don't have a dime] Somebody's got to go back and get a shit-load of dimes.
[cut to Bart and Jim and others preparing to dynamite the fake Rock Ridge, then cut back to the toll gate]
Taggart: Hurry up. Speed it up or we're never going to get to Rock Ridge! Come on, move them through!

[Cut to Bart and Jim looking from above the fake Rock Ridge]

Sheriff Bart: Well, they're through the tollbooth.
Jim: Look at this, they're buying it!
Sheriff Bart (turning to the crowd): All right, here we go. Hold your ears, folks! It's show time! [plunges detonator]
Van Johnson: Nothing! What are we going to do? Any minute now they're going to discover the town is fake and pull out!
Sheriff Bart (to Jim): You think you could squeeze off a shot from here… and set off the dynamite down there?
Jim: I'll give it a try. [aims gun]
Rev. Johnson (distracting Jim's concentration): Oh, Lord, keep this man's eye keen… and may God grant… [Olson and Howard beat the Reverend with their hats]

[Cut to the fake Rock Ridge, where the cutthroats are shooting things up]

Taggart (kicking over a facade): It's a fake! We've been suckered in! [Jim shoots and the explosions begin.]

[Cut to the overlook]

Sheriff Bart: Okay, folks, let's wipe them out! [They run down the hill to the fake town, and hand-to-hand fighting ensues.]
Rev. Johnson: [Reverend knees a cutthroat in the crotch.] Forgive me, Lord!
Woman 1: [Punches a cutthroat, who falls back into a window.] You son of a bitch!

Jim: [Accidentally punches Bart] Sorry.
Le Petomane Thruway, more than a century later. "What'll that asshole think of next?" It was named after that asshole, not the other asshole.

Lili and six German soldiers: ♫Ja, ja,… ja, ja♫ [She leads the soldiers in singing.]
  • The German song that Lili is leading the soldiers in singing is an 1820s German folksong, "Du, du liegst mir im Herzen"Wikipedia ("You, You're in My Heart"). The song appeared in the 1961 film about the Nazi war crimes trial, Judgment at Nuremberg,Wikipedia which starred Marlene Dietrich (upon whose earlier performance the character Lili is based), this time portraying Mrs. Bertholt, the wife of an executed German general. In the Judgment at Nuremberg the song is both in the background and in a German beer hall, perhaps referencing the Beer Hall Putsch.Wikipedia The scene is pivotal in the film, and ends with intercuts of denial of knowledge of war crimes by Mrs. Bertholt, close-ups of Germans happily singing and rhythmically clanking their beer steins on the table. The clanking echoes both the sound of soldiers marching and the hammering of a judge's gavel.[111]
  • The song also appeared during the contract signing scene in the 1967 film The Producers, in which the Nazi character, Franz Liebkind, leads the "Ja, ja, ja…" singing with the crooked producers Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom.
  • In an incredible real-life juxtaposition of Nazi war atrocities and the American civil right struggle, on March 7, 1965, the ABC TV premiere of Judgment at Nuremberg was interrupted by a news report with footage of the brutal police attack on nonviolent protesters on the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama,Wikipedia "suggesting to many a parallel between the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany and the treatment of blacks in the South,"[112] a parallel that Isabel Wilkerson argued in her book Caste.[46]

The French Mistake[edit]

[The camera pulls back to reveal that the fake Rock Ridge is actually at Warner Bros. Studios in California. Cut to synchronized dancing effeminate men inside a Hollywood studio.]


[Background music: ♫Throw out your hands, stick out your tush. Hands on your hips, give them a push. You'll be surprised, you're doing the French Mistake. Voilà!♫ One of the dancers stumbles down the stairs that they are dancing on.]
Buddy Bizarre [played by Dom DeLuiseWikipedia]: All right, cut! [shouting at dancer through a megaphone] Wrong! Just watch me. It's so simple! You sissy Marys! Give me the playback. And watch me, faggots! "♫Throw out your hands, stick out your tush. Hands on your hips, give them a push. You'll be surprised, you're doing the French Mistake. Voilà!♫" [steps in water] Shit. Have you got it?
Dancers: Yessssssss. [indicating yes + hiss]

Buddy Bizarre: Sounds like steam escaping! Action! Okay, wait until I get out. Playback. [The background music starts again.]

Le Pétomane doing the original 'French Mistake'?
  • There are two reasonable, non-mutually exclusive readings of "The French Mistake" that rely on deeper meanings. There are also several incorrect, superficial readings that rely on stereotyping and homophobia.[29]:214-215 The reasonable deeper readings are:
    1. The poses of the dancers, and the corresponding lyrics ("…stick out your tush. Hands on your hips, give them a push") indicate another reference to Le Pétomane, the famed French fartiste.
    2. The second deeper reading relies on the complete lyrics of "The French Mistake" ("…Come on try and move those feet along, fifty million Frenchmen can't be wrong!"),[113] which did not appear in the film but was recorded and released on an album, indicating the original intentions of Brooks (who was the lyricist).[29]:214 The excised lyrics directly reference the song "Fifty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong", which appeared in the 1927 film, Fifty Million Frenchmen.Wikipedia[29]:214 These song lyrics depict the French as "carefree and epicene [gender neutral], and mocks their taste in food and fashion, but also comparatively mocks American conservativeness, censorship and Prohibition."[29]:214
  • The name Buddy Bizarre is referencing the director and choreographer, Busby Berkeley,Wikipedia[29]:210,213 (1895–1976) who was famous for his elaborate choreography of large numbers of female dancers and synchronized swimmers.

[The street fighting from the fake Rock Ridge has literally broken through the (fourth) wall and entered the dancers' set.]

Buddy Bizarre: Cut! What in the hell do you think you're doing here? This is a closed set!

Taggart: [runs up to Buddy] Piss on you! I'm working for Mel Brooks. [gets ready to punch Buddy]

Buddy Bizarre: Not in the face! [Taggart punches Buddy in the stomach.] Thank you.
"Closed set" can be read as a pun as being in the "closet".[29]:217


Dancer 1: They've hit Buddy! Come on, girls! [The dancers join the fight as water fountains start shooting into the air on both sides of the staircase.]

[A cowboy pushes a dancer into the water.]

Dancer 2: You vulgar shit! [hits cowboy on the head with his dancing cane]
Cowboy 1: Why, you miserable pansy! [punches Dancer 2 in the stomach, the two of them enter a passageway under the staircase]
Cowboy 1: [emerging from the other side of the passageway with his arm around Dancer 2] I'm parked over by the commissary.
Dancer 3: [beating feebly on Cowboy 2] You brute, you brute, you vicious brute! [he cries and hugs Cowboy 2]

Cowboy 2: All right, all right… [comforting Dancer 3]
  • The water fountains can be read as pornographic ejaculations, particularly when juxtaposed against affectionate male pairings.[29]:219
  • The dancer and the cowboy entering the passageway fighting, then exiting affectionately can be read as a literal exiting of the their closet.

[Cut to two dancers in a small pool, affectionately doing synchronized swimming]This shot emphasizes the reference to Busby Berkeley's 1933 film, Footlight Parade.Wikipedia[29]:219[note 8]
A scene from Footlight Parade

[Cut to studio commissary. A man dressed as Hitler sits down next to a man in a robe.]

Man in Robe: How many days do you have left, Joey?
Joey (Man in Hitler costume): They lose me right after the bunker scene.
Man in Robe: What the hell is that? [The fight breaks into the commissary.]
Chef: Get your pies for the great pie fight!

[Cut to outside the commissary]

Studio tour guide: This is our Studio commissary where some Hollywood stars… come to eat. [Exiting the commissary, the tourists come out with food on their clothing.] And now we'll go to the Special Effects Department.

[Cut back to the commissary. Mongo punches Taggart, who slides down to the cashier.]
Cashier: Yankee bean soup, cole slaw and tuna surprise.

This is the last of references to German militarism in the film. It is referencing the Hollywood dramatization of Nazi Germany, but also mocking Hitler by portraying the actor in costume but not in the role and by trivializing Hitler's suicide ("They lose me right after the bunker scene."). The quote is also a reference to the then-ongoing controversies over the circumstances of Hitler's death that started after the Soviet Union's release of disinformation in 1945.


[Lamarr exits the men's room and sees the chaos in the commissary, returning to the men's room, only to be pied and exit again. The fight breaks out of the commissary and enters the street, where Lamarr hails a taxi.]

Lamarr (to taxi driver): Drive me off this picture.

[Sheriff Bart rides his horse onto the street. Cut to Grauman's Chinese Theatre,Wikipedia where Blazing Saddles is playing. Wait, what? Lamarr gets out of the taxi and walks up to the box office.]

Immediately after being pied, Lamarr has white glop on his face in an irregular pattern. When we next see him, he is running onto the street, and the white glop is more symmetric, suggesting a whiteface mockery of the chief villain as he displays his cowardice, thus inverting the history of whites stereotyping African Americans with blackface.

Lamarr: [He pushes two young men out of line to cut in front.] You dropped your beads. (then speaks to the cashier) One, please. Uh, student.

Cashier: Are you kidding?
Lamarr: Pain in the ass.
Tourist: (speaking to another tourist) Look, I'm in Hedy Lamarr's shoes! [pointing to Hedy Lamarr's imprint in the Hollywood Walk of Fame]
Lamarr: (walking past) Hedley!

[Lamarr enters the lobby, cattle are on display.]

Lamarr: [walks up to concession counter] Raisinets. [enters theater and nearly sits on someone] Sorry.

[Lamarr watches the film, showing Bart riding his horse up to the theater.]

Lamarr: [spits out a Raisinet] Shit. [rushes out of the theater]
Sheriff Bart: Freeze it! Okay, Lamarr, go for your gun.
Lamarr: Wait, wait, I'm unarmed.
Sheriff Bart: All right, we'll settle it like men. [drops pistol] With our fists.
Lamarr: Sorry, I just remembered. I am armed.

[Lamarr pulls out a pistol, then he shoots and misses as Bart quickly dives for his gun and shoots Lamarr.]

Lamarr (dying, on top of Douglas Fairbanks'Wikipedia) footprints on the sidewalk): How did he do such fantastic stunts with such little feet?
Jim: [seemingly coming out of nowhere] You shot the bad guy! Well, what do you want to do now?
Sheriff Bart: Come on, let's check out the end of the flick.
Jim: I sure hope there's a happy ending. I love a happy ending.

[Essentially breaking the fifth wall (or unbreaking the fourth), Bart and Jim watch themselves on screen for the finale.]

Howard Johnson: Sheriff, you can't go now. We need you.

Sheriff Bart: My work here is done. I'm needed elsewhere now. I'm needed wherever outlaws rule the West. Wherever innocent women and children are afraid to walk the streets. Wherever a man cannot live in simple dignity. Wherever people cry out for justice.
"You dropped your beads." is an insult that insinuates that the man in line is a hippie.

Crowd: Bullshit!

Sheriff Bart: All right, you caught me. To speak the plain truth, it's getting pretty damn dull around here.
Rev. Johnson: Good luck, Bart, and God bless you.
Mongo: Oh, Bart! [thoughtlessly hits man standing in front of him]
Charlie: Goodbye, baby bro.
Sheriff Bart: Keep the faith, brothers!

Crowd: Bye!
The crowd includes well-wishers Governor Le Petomane (presumably converted from villany) and Lili von Shtupp (with whom Bart had a one-night stand).

[Bart rides up to Jim]

Jim: Where are you headed, cowboy?
Sheriff Bart: Nowhere special.
Jim: Nowhere special. I always wanted to go there.
Sheriff Bart: Come on!

[Bart and Jim ride off into the sunset as the "Blazing Saddles" song plays in the background. They ride up to a Cadillac, where a cowboy takes their horses and a chauffeur continues to drive them off into the sunset.]

Brooks himself has suggested that this ending could be interpreted as homoerotic and not just repeating a Western movie trope:[114][29]:221[115]

I mean when that black guy (Cleavon Little) rides into the old Western town and even a little old lady say, 'Up yours, nigger!', you know that his heart is broken. So it's really a story of that heart being mended. That, of course, and my reverence for the Western movie, which developed as a child.

I guess maybe the story also has a little to do with me searching for my own father. He died when I was 2. And in the picture, both Cleavon and Gene Wilder (playing an incompetent gunslinger) are searching for someone to believe in. When they find each other, it's a marriage made in heaven.
Brooks has also said, "I would say that all my movies are stories of love between men, in the sense of camraderie."[116] But this does not detract from Jack Curtis Dubowsky's "homosexual interpretation of the famous ending, remarkably reinforced by the deliberately romantic musical finale."[29]:221-222

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Mel Brooks' warbonnet's headband says "פשר לכסח", a Hebrew nonsense phrase that when two letters are transposed (known as a SpoonerismWikipedia) says "כשר לפסח", or "Kosher for Passover".[1] An alternate version of the poster contains the tagline "Never give a saga an even break!", a pun on the 1941 W. C. FieldsWikipedia movie, Never Give a Sucker an Even Break.Wikipedia A poster of Fields on the wall of the commissary is shown during the "great pie fight" scene.
  2. Though it was hardly the first foreshadowing, there were the films Lonesome CowboysWikipedia and Midnight Cowboy,Wikipedia which preceded Blazing Saddles.
  3. It should go without saying that this is not the same thing as the friend argument.
  4. Note that Andrew Schlafly is a Catholic. But evidently not a very good one.
  5. To which we respond: If the right wants to see insane, it should look in a mirror.
  6. Though as of 2019, USF only offers an online "Film & New Media Studies Graduate Certificate".[39]
  7. I want to try and get to that level where we’re that stereotypical western sheriff in those old movies, where the sheriff walks up and everyone’s like, ‘Morning, sheriff!
    —Aaron Appelhans, first black sheriff of Wyoming[79]
  8. Mel Brooks more grandly spoofed Footlight Parade a second time in his 1981 film History of the World, Part I during "The Spanish Inquisition" segment. The segment features tortured rabbis who are thrown into a pool of synchronized swimming nuns.


  1. I'm probably a bit late to the party with this (say, 40+ years!) but for the first time in my life, I noticed it seems to say "Kasher l'Pesach" (Kosher for Passover) in the Indian headdress on the Blazing Saddles movie poster! @MelBrooks by Israellycool (5:25 AM · Mar 23, 2018) Twitter (archived from October 3, 2019).
  2. Remarks by the President at the Presentation of the 2015 National Medals of the Arts and Humanities (September 22, 2016) President Barack Obama, The White House.
  3. Screen: 'Blazing Saddles,' a Western in Burlesque by Vincent Canby (1974) The New York Times.
  4. DVD Review: Blazing Saddles by Eric Henderson (June 21, 2004) Slant.
  5. Blazing Saddles Rotten Tomatoes.
  6. Film / Blazing Saddles TV Tropes.
  7. 'Blazing Saddles' Makes National Film Registry by Linda Wertheimer (December 30, 2006; 8:00 AM ET) NPR.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Why we need 'Blazing Saddles' now more than ever by Marta Rusek (May 23, 2016) WHYY.
  9. The Mel Brooks Collection (2006) Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. UPC 024543167495. From the audio commentary of Blazing Saddles, starting at 53:26.
  10. Blazing Saddles by Michael Schlesinger, Library of Congress.
  11. 19 Things We Learned From the 'Blazing Saddles' Commentary by Kevin Carr (May 7, 2014) Film School Rejects.
  12. Genteel racism by Aqua Rusa (January 7, 2019).
  13. The Imperative of Integration by Elizabeth Anderson (2013) Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691158118. Page 49.
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