There are two types of people in this world: Those who can quote Blazing Saddles at the drop of a 10-gallon hat, and those I'd never wish to hang around. In the authentic frontier gibberish of Gabby Johnson: "No sidewindin' bushwackin' hornswogglin' cracker croaker is gonna rowll my bishen cutter."
Now, who can argue with that?
As Seth MacFarlane learned the hard way this summer, there's a million ways to flop when poking fun at Wild West cliches. No movie did it successfully before or since Blazing Saddles, the 1974 spoof directed and co-written by Mel Brooks. From its Rawhide-inspired theme song to Sheriff Bart and the Waco Kid's Cadillac limo ride into the sunset, Blazing Saddles remains a landmark of irreverence, political incorrectness and schnitzengruben (15 is my limit).
Celebrating its 40th aniversary, Brooks' masterpiece will be shown at 3 p.m. Sunday at Tampa Theatre, part of the historic venue's Summer Movie Classics Series. Tickets are $10, available at the box office or online at tampatheatre.org. Grab some Raisinets because this sounds more fun than a Number Six Dance.
One caveat for tinhorns who never before watched Blazing Saddles: Check your sensitivity at the door. Many of its best jokes are gloriously offensive, including the unofficial record for n-words in a movie because nobody ever stops laughing long enough to keep count. If racial and sexual stereotypes and slurs don't make you blush, there's always the campfire scene with its beans-fueled soundtrack.
If that makes Blazing Saddles seem below your cultural standards, know that the movie was honored by the Library of Congress in 2006 for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant," and was singled out for preservation in the National Film Registry. Can't argue with that, either.
Steve Persall, Times movie critic, whose mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.