Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 1974. Crossbow Productions, Warner Bros.. Story by Andrew Bergman, Screenplay by Mel Brooks, Norman Steinberg, Andrew Bergman, Richard Pryor, Alan Uger. Cinematography by Joseph F. Biroc. Produced by Michael Hertzberg. Music by John Morris. Production Design by Peter Wooley. Costume Design by Vittorio Nino Novarese, Tom Dawson. Film Editing by Danford B. Greene, John C. Howard. Academy Awards 1974.
This film is pretty much responsible for creating the genre of “spoof” comedy that continues to be popular today. It is on the surface a hilarious recreation of thirties westerns, most notably Destry Rides Again, but it is also a very deep criticism of American racism. Cleavon Little is excellent as the first black sheriff of a tiny western town, one whose populace doesn’t take too well to their new leader in law but sheriffs never last that long there anyway. Gene Wilder stars as his befuddled deputy and Mel Brooks and Harvey Korman also contribute to the hilarity. Madeline Kahn and her Dietrich-like character of “Lily Von Schtupp” steals the show outright, particularly with the very funny “I’m Tired!” performance number. Many of the jokes and sight gags are still quoted to this day, and although parts haven’t aged all that well, it still remains a very enjoyable comedy.