Welcome back to Behind The Scenes Saturday!! Today is all about what is probably the greatest parody movie ever made, Blazing Saddles! With its social commentary on how ridiculous people think and act, Blazing Saddles was a fantastic middle finger to all the bigots in the world. So, don’t eat too many beans, watch out for Mongo, and enjoy this trip down memory lane!
(Trivia provided by IMDb.com)
(Pictured provided by google.com and IMDb.com)
- In the scene where Jim (Gene Wilder) comforts Bart (Cleavon Little), Little was unaware Wilder was going to say, “you know… morons.” And his laughter in the film was genuine.
- Frankie Laine was brought on to create the main theme song for the film. The film’s director, Mel Brooks, was looking for a Frankie Laine-type voice and Laine himself showed up at Brooks’ office two days later. Brooks was worried that Laine wouldn’t sing with “conviction” if he knew he was doing it for a comedy. So, Laine was led to believe the film was a drama. Laine wasn’t angry at this, because he ended up really enjoying the film when he watched it.
- When the Warner Brothers executives viewed the film, none of them laughed and they almost stopped its release to the public. Fortunately, Mel Brooks held another screening for the employees of the studio. The film brought an uproar of laughter from the employees, and the executives changed their minds.
- The scene where Bart points his gun at himself to escape the townsfolk of Rock Ridge was based on an incident in Mel Brooks’ childhood. When he was young, he stole some gum and a water pistol from a drug store. An employee tried to stop him, but Brooks kept them away with the water pistol.
- Mel Brooks claims that I’m Tired, the song by Lili Von Shtüpp (Madeline Kahn) was the dirtiest song he ever wrote in his life.
- Burton Gilliam (Lyle) found it very difficult to say the N word, especially to Cleavon Little, who he really liked. After several bad takes, Little had to reassure Gilliam. He took him aside and reminded him that those weren’t his words. As a joke, Little also said, “If I thought you would say those words to me in any other situation, we’d go to fist city, but this is all fun. Don’t worry about it.”
- During the end of the film where everyone ran out of the Warner Brothers front gate, there was a man who stumbled onto the set and stood on the sidewalk as they ran by him. Mel Brooks tried to shoo him away as he was not part of the film, but after several failed attempts, Brooks just had him sign a waiver and kept him in the film.
- Gene Wilder and Cleavon Little became friends very quickly while filming together. Little was a broadway actor, and Wilder gave him pointers for how to act in front of the cameras.
- While filming in the desert, Slim Pickens (Taggart) parked his RV on location and camped out there with his Winchester rifle.
- Supposedly, this is the first film to ever use the sound of flatulence. The people behind the film watched a bunch of older westerns where cowboys only consumed black coffee and beans. They realized the gastric disaster a combination like that would do to those cowboys, and decided to put that conclusion in the film. If this is true, then Burton Gilliam was the first man to ever fart in a movie.
- Gene Wilder wasn’t the first choice as Jim a.k.a. The Waco Kid. The role was originally played by Gig Young. On the very first day of shooting, the first scene was Jim’s introduction where he’s hanging upside down drunk in his cell. Young unfortunately had a drinking problem for years and he was actually drunk when he tried filming the scene. He hung upside down and started throwing up everywhere. Production was shut down for a day as Wilder was flown cross-country to replace Young. Young later sued Warner Brothers for breaching his contract.
- During her audition for the role of Lili, Madeline Kahn was asked by Mel Brooks to lift up her skirt so he could see her legs. Kahn was visibly hesitant so Brooks assured her he was a happily married man. The character of Lili was a parody of Marlene Dietrich, so he wanted whoever played her to have legs similar to Dietrich.
- The character of Mongo (Alex Karras) was created by Richard Pryor.
- Dom DeLuise stated that his character, Buddy Bizarre was originally written for Peter Sellers. However, Sellers and Mel Brooks went through an exhausting audition that lasted 4 hours. So, Brooks brought in DeLuise for the role instead.
- Mel Brooks was pressured a lot by the Warner Brothers executives to cut several offensive scenes out. Brooks agreed to to be polite, but since he had final cut in his contract, he didn’t intend on changing a single thing.
- The role of Bart was written for Richard Pryor. However, due to Pryor’s controversial stand-up routines and struggles with drugs and alcohol, Mel Brooks had difficulties financing the film with Pryor on-board. Pryor was made co-writer for the film and Cleavon Little was cast.
- Johnny Carson was approached to play Jim, The Waco Kid, but he turned it down.
- Gene Wilder was originally going to play Hedley Lamarr, but he didn’t feel he was right for the role.
- As of 2023, Mel Brooks and Burton Gilliam are the only actors from the main cast who are still alive.
One thought on “Behind The Scenes Saturday: Blazing Saddles”
I always enjoy Mel Brook’s vision. This film being one of them. Hilarious from start to finish, a classic
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