Giddy up! How well do you know Blazing Saddles?

By: Julie Medina
Image: Crossbow Productions Warner Bros.

About This Quiz

The campfire scene? The scene where the new sheriff takes himself hostage? Which scene is best? Recall them all in this silly yet satirical Western that made Blazing Saddles one of the all-time great comedies.

Who says this? [high-pitched voice] “Oooh! He'p me, he'p me! Somebody he'p me! He'p me! He'p me! He'p me!” [low voice] “Shut up!”

The scene in which Cleavon Little (Sheriff Bart) aims his gun at his own head to save himself from the townspeople's wrath was based on an incident from Mel Brooks' childhood. He said that he once stole gum and a water pistol from a drugstore. To his disbelief, when a store worker tried to stop him, Brooks held the worker at bay with the very water pistol he had just stolen from the store. Sometimes life is stranger than fiction.

Who is saying this to Bart? [consoling Bart] "What did you expect? 'Welcome, sonny'? 'Make yourself at home'? 'Marry my daughter'? You've got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know... morons."

Jim, The Waco Kid, says this to Bart after Bart’s confrontation with the townspeople. Did you know that Cleavon Little was not warned about the "you know ... morons" line? His reaction was real.

What is the name of the would-be sheriff who was saved from being hanged?

A black railroad worker, Bart, who was about to be hanged, is appointed as sheriff to rid the town of its residents. A black sheriff, the State Attorney General reasoned, would offend the townspeople and create chaos, and then the cleared land would be his. Sheriff Bart is played by Cleavon Little, an accomplished theater, movie, and television actor. On Broadway, he earned both a Drama Desk and a Tony Award for Purlie, and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor for his appearance on Dear John. However, he is best known for playing the Sheriff in Blazing Saddles.

What type of movie genre is Blazing Saddles?

Blazing Saddles is a 1974 American satirical Western comedy film that satirizes the racism obscured by myth-making Hollywood accounts of the American West, with the hero being a black sheriff in an all-white town. Although there are references to other eras, it takes place In the American Old West of 1874. The story tells of new railroad construction that will be going through Rock Ridge, a frontier town inhabited exclusively by white people with the surname Johnson.

Who is Blazing Saddles directed by?

Mel Brooks, actor, comedian, filmmaker, composer, and songwriter, directed Blazing Saddles. His best-known films include The Producers, The Twelve Chairs, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Silent Movie, High Anxiety, History of the World, Part I, Spaceballs, and Robin Hood: Men in Tights. A musical adaptation of his first film, The Producers, ran on Broadway from 2001 to 2007.

Who plays the conniving State Attorney General, Hedley Lamarr?

Harvey Korman portrayed the conniving State Attorney General who wants to force Rock Ridge's residents to abandon their town, thereby lowering land prices so he can buy and then resell the property to the government at a higher price. The government wants to construct a railroad through Rock Ridge. Harvey Korman is best remembered for his performances on the sketch comedy series, The Carol Burnett Show, and in several films by Mel Brooks.

What was the original idea to clear the town of residents?

After the State Attorney General, Hedley Lamarr, sends a gang of thugs, led by his flunky assistant Taggart (Slim Pickens), to shoot the sheriff and trash the town, the townspeople do not flee. Instead, they demand that Governor William J. Le Petomane appoint a new sheriff to protect them. Did you know Slim Pickens was an actual cowboy? Louis Burton Lindley, Jr. (better known by his stage name Slim Pickens), was a rodeo performer, as well as a film and television actor.

Who appoints Bart to be Sheriff?

The State Attorney General convinced the dim-witted Governor William J. Le Petomane (portrayed by Mel Brooks) to appoint a new sheriff, as demanded by the townspeople. Did you know Le Petomane was not just a made-up character name? Le Petomane was the stage name of the French flatulist (professional farter) and entertainer, Joseph Pujol. He was famous for his remarkable control of the abdominal muscles, which enabled him to seemingly fart at will. If you know the movie, you know the famous fart scene. Mel Brooks definitely had a long-running gag in this movie, from the name of the Governor to the famous beans scene.

What is the name of the character who is an immensely strong, dim-witted but philosophical henchman?

Mongo, an immensely strong, dim-witted but philosophical henchman is sent by the State Attorney General to kill Sheriff Bart, but he is thwarted. Did you know that the actor who plays Mongo played for the Detroit Lions as a Defensive Tackle in the National Football League, from 1958–1962 and 1964–1970? Alex Karras was an American football player, professional wrestler, and actor. As an actor, Karras is noted for his role as Mongo in the 1974 comedy film Blazing Saddles, and for starring in the ABC sitcom Webster.

What actor played Jim, the Waco Kid?

Sheriff Bart gets the assistance of recovering alcoholic gunslinger Jim, the Waco Kid, to overcome the townspeople's hostile reception. The Waco Kid is portrayed by Gene Wilder, a film and theater comic actor, screenwriter, film director, and author. Wilder's first major role, in The Producers, earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. This was the first in a series of collaborations with Mel Brooks, including Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, which Wilder co-wrote, garnering the pair an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Wilder is known for his portrayal of Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and for his four films with Richard Pryor: Silver Streak, Stir Crazy, See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and Another You. Wilder directed and wrote several of his own films, including The Woman in Red.

Who is Bart talking to? Bart:” I better go check out this Mongo character.”[Bart reaches for his gun] “Oh no, don't do that, don't do that. If you shoot him, you'll just make him mad.”

Sheriff Bart is talking to Jim, The Waco Kid. This is Bart’s first job as Sheriff and he isn’t a good one, as Mongo has been terrorizing the town. Did you know the scene in which Mongo punches the horse is a page out of Mel Brooks' life? Brooks was a writer on Your Show of Shows (1950) and Caesar's Hour (1954). His boss, Sid Caesar, who was a physically imposing and somewhat violent man, reported in his 1982 autobiography "Where Have I Been?" that while trail riding with his wife, her horse caused trouble and he punched it once between the eyes. The horse collapsed, unconscious. He notes that this event was Brooks' inspiration for the Mongo-vs.-horse scene.

Who played Lilli von Shtupp, the "Teutonic Titwillow"?

The German seductress-for-hire Lilli von Shtupp is portrayed by Madeline Kahn, actress, comedian, voice actress, and singer, best known for her roles in What's Up, Doc?, Young Frankenstein, High Anxiety, History of the World, Part I, and her Academy Award-nominated role in Paper Moon. She earned four Tony Award nominations before winning the 1993 Tony Award for Best Actress in The Sisters Rosensweig. She had previously won a Daytime Emmy Award in 1987, for an ABC Afterschool Special.

Who says this? “Mongo only pawn... in game of life.”

Mongo says this, which shows his philosophical nature. Richard Pryor, one of the screenwriters on Blazing Saddles, came up with the character "Mongo." When Mongo rides into town, one Mexican says, "Mongo! Santa Maria!" Mongo Santamaría was a famous Cuban musician.

Who is talking to Hedley Lamarr? Hedley Lamarr: “My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.” “God darnit, Mr. Lamarr, you use your tongue prettier than a twenty-dollar whore.”

Taggart had that hilarious line. Talk about devotion to portraying your character… did you know that Slim Pickens (Taggart) voluntarily slept outside with a Winchester rifle during most of the shoot, to get a feel for his character?

When Mongo and Lilli von Shtupp are outsmarted, who does Hedley Lamarr employ to oust the Sheriff?

Lamarr, furious that his schemes have backfired, hatches a larger plan involving a recruited army of thugs, including common criminals, Ku Klux Klansmen, and Nazi soldiers, to overcome the Sheriff and get the townspeople to leave. Over 70 stuntmen worked on this film, many of them doubling as extras.

Who is talking to the gum chewer? “Qualifications?” Gum Chewer: [chewing gum] ”Murder... armed robbery... mayhem...” “Wait a moment. What have you got in your mouth?” Gum Chewer: [stops chewing] "Nuff'm."

Hedley Lamarr, played by Harvey Korman, is talking to the gum chewer, who he eventually shoots for not having enough gum to share with everyone else. Although credited on screen as "Gum Chewer," Don Megowan actually played a different role in the film: he was the man who Madeline Kahn pushed into the audience after he lurched drunkenly toward her while she was on stage.

What is Sheriff Bart’s big idea to fool the army of thugs?

Sheriff Bart’s big idea is to build a perfect replica of their town, as a diversion. Speaking of big ideas, the idea of the film came from an original story outline written by Andrew Bergman, which Mel Brooks described as "hip talk--1974 talk and expressions--happening in 1874 in the Old West." Brooks was immediately taken by the story, and despite having not worked with a writing team for some time, hired a group of writers, including Bergman, to expand on the script, reminding them, "Please do not write a polite script."

Who says this? [Spotting Bart and Charlie on a hand-cart sinking into quicksand] “Oh, s**t. Quicksand! [Lassos the hand-cart and drags it but not the men out of the quicksand] Dang, that was lucky. Doggone near lost a four-hundred-dollar hand-cart.”

Taggart delivered this line as he saved the hand-cart. However, he did not try to save Bart and Charlie. When Bart and Charlie are on the railroad hand cart and it begins to sink, you can see that when Charlie is sinking he's actually squatting, because you can see his elbows spread.

Besides the fake town, what else needs to be created for this replica to look real?

Bart realizes the fake town won't fool the villains unless they construct replicas of the townspeople. Did you know that the character of Bart is possibly based on a real event? There was a black U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves of the Arkansas Indian Territory in 1875, and later he oversaw the area of Paris, TX, in 1893.

To construct the fake town, the townspeople need help. Where do they get it from?

Bart introduces the white townspeople to the black and Chinese railroad workers who have agreed to help build the fake town in exchange for acceptance by the community. Although this was a kumbaya moment, Mel Brooks did not have one with the studio executives. When the film was first screened for Warner Brothers executives, almost none of them laughed and the movie looked to be a disaster that the studio would not release. However, Mel Brooks quickly set up a subsequent screening for the studio's employees. When these regular folks laughed uproariously throughout the movie, Warners finally agreed to take a chance on releasing it.

How do the townspeople make the replicas of themselves “special” for the thugs?

The fake town needed to be populated with fake townspeople, so replicas or dummies were constructed with one special surprise - they were rigged with dynamite bombs. Although Cleavon Little is fantastic in the role of Bart, the role was intended for Richard Pryor. However, due to the controversial nature of Pryor's stand-up routines of the day and his background, Mel Brooks couldn't secure financing for the project with Pryor in that role.

How does Sheriff Bart buy more time for the townspeople to create the fake town?

Bart, Jim, and Mongo buy time by constructing the "William J. Le Pétomane Memorial Thruway," forcing the raiding party to turn back for "a s**t load of dimes" to pay the toll. As for fooling others, Mel Brooks had the last laugh. After promising Warner Bros. that he would edit out several "offensive" scenes--such as the infamous farting sequence--Mel Brooks in fact never cut a single scene except one: after the room is darkened and Lilli (Madeline Kahn) informs Bart "It's TWUE! It's TWUE!" Bart (Cleavon Little) quietly states, "You're sucking on my elbow."

Who is the sharpshooter who explodes the bombs on the dummy townspeople, killing the thugs?

Jim, The Waco Kid, detonates the bombs with his sharpshooting skills. We see bad guys and horses launch skyward. Then the Rock Ridge townspeople storm the thugs. Keeping in character with the movie, when the world premiere was at the (now gone) Pickwick Drive-In Theater in Burbank, CA, the guests rode horses into the drive-in for the premiere.

Dom DeLuise plays which funny character?

Dom DeLuise plays Buddy Bizarre, a director, who appears when the movie “breaks the fourth wall.” The brawl between townsfolk, railroad workers, and Lamarr's thugs literally spills onto a neighboring set ,where director Buddy Bizarre is directing a Busby Berkeley-style top-hat-and-tails musical number. Then the fighting moves into the studio commissary for a food fight. The fight continues out of the Warner Bros. film lot, into the streets of Burbank. Dom DeLuise was an actor, comedian, film director, television producer, chef, and author, best known for his movies with Mel Brooks and life-long best friend, Burt Reynolds.

When the movie takes a turn, breaking the fourth wall, and Hedley Lamarr hails a taxi, where does the taxi take him?

Lamarr, realizing he has been beaten again because his thugs are taking a thrashing, hails a taxi. Lamarr orders the driver to "get me out of this picture." He ducks into Grauman's Chinese Theater, which is playing the premiere of Blazing Saddles. When Harvey Korman's character purchases a ticket at the Grauman's box office, you can see the original film title, "BLACK BART," in the poster case in the background.

What happens to Lamarr in the theatre?

As Lamarr settles into his seat, he sees Bart arriving on horseback outside the theater. Bart blocks Lamarr's escape, and then, in a spoof of a classic cinematic gunfight, shoots him in the groin. One ongoing gag is how Hedly Lamarr is always confused with the name Hedy Lamarr, the woman many critics and fans alike regard as the most beautiful woman ever to appear in films during the 30s and 40s. Hedy Lamarr sued Mel Brooks over the use of the name Hedley Lamarr and settled out of court. Mel said he was flattered by this attention and even made a reference to the lawsuit in the movie.

How does the movie end?

After the shootout, Bart and Jim go into Grauman's to watch the end of the film, in which Bart announces to the townspeople that he is moving on, for his work there is done (and he is bored). Riding out of town, he finds Jim (finishing his popcorn), and invites him along to "nowhere special." The two friends ride off into the sunset—in a chauffeured stretch limousine. In real life, Gene Wilder and Cleavon Little quickly became friends on set. Since Little was a Broadway actor, Wilder gave him pointers for acting in front of the cameras.

How did Mel Brooks spoof the music that is usually played in a Western movie?

Count Basie had a cameo appearance with his band, playing "April in Paris" in the middle of the desert as Bart rides toward Rock Ridge to assume the post of sheriff. Then Lyle asks about a work song from Bart and the railroad workers like “De Camptown Ladies” or “Swing Low Sweet Chariot,” instead, he gets a Frank Sinatra classic, “I Get A Kick Out Of You.”

What other roles, besides Director and Governor, did Mel Brooks play in the film?

Not only did Mel Brooks write, direct and star in this movie, he also portrayed various roles – the Governor, the Indian Chief, and a person In the outlaw recruitment line, smiling and wearing an aviator's costume. He also wrote the songs for the film. Brooks is so talented, he was a Kennedy Center Honoree. At that time, President Barack Obama mentioned going to see Blazing Saddles (1974) at the age of 13. When Brooks asked how he got in with the ratings restriction, the president replied, "I think I had a fake ID," before adding, "The statute of limitations has passed."

Which of these songs is in Blazing Saddles?

Mel Brooks wrote the music and lyrics to all these songs. Here are some of the lyrics from the “I’m Tired” song that Madeline Kahn performs: "I've been with 1,000's of men / Again and again / They promise the moon / They always coming and going / Going and coming / And always too soon / Right girls?" With silly songs and comedic gags, it’s no wonder AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs list ranked Blazing Saddles as number six in the year 2000.

How was the film received?

There is no doubt that the fans loved it. On a budget of $2.6 million it earned $119.6 million, making it only the tenth film in history at that time to pass the $100 million mark! As for the critics, on Rotten Tomatoes the film has 90% positive reviews.

Who says this? “Men, you are about to embark on a great crusade to stamp out runaway decency in the west. Now you men will only be risking your lives, whilst I will be risking an almost certain Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.”

Hedley Lamarr, played by Harvey Korman, says this to rouse his band of hired villains. Weirdly, he was correct. Madeline Kahn received an Academy Award nomination in 1974 for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. There was no mention of Harvey Korman.

How many Academy Award nominations did this movie receive?

The film received three Academy Award nominations in 1974, for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Madeline Kahn, Best Film Editing, and Best Music, Original Song. The film also earned two BAFTA awards nominations, for Best Newcomer, Cleavon Little, and Best Screenplay.

Which prestigious award did the film receive from the Writers Guild of America?

The film won the Writers Guild of America Award for "Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen" for writers Mel Brooks, Norman Steinberg, Andrew Bergman, Richard Pryor, and Alan Uger. This film earned its place in the National Film Registry. In 2006, Blazing Saddles was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and was selected for preservation.

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