Forty years ago writer-director-actor Mel Brooks blazed new frontiers by introducing farting to the screen. While researching classic Westerns for this spoof of the genre, he was struck by just how gaseous the standard cowboy diet of beans and coffee was, leading to one of the movies’ funniest scenes. There are many such outrageous delights in this tale of a black sheriff (Cleavon Little) taking on a corrupt land grabber (Harvey Korman) and a German temptress (Madeline Kahn). After writing his first two features solo, Brooks assembled a writing team including Andrew Bergman and Richard Pryor in hopes of re-capturing the days of Your Show of Shows, the Sid Caesar-Imogene Coca variety show noted for its movie parodies. With a cast filled with Brooks regulars including Gene Wilder (as The Waco Kid), and a string of non-stop quips and sight gags, he produced a film that left Warner Bros. executives and some critics dumbfounded. But audiences loved it to the tune of $119 million at the box office, the highest gross for a Western at that time.
Presented in collaboration with Warner Bros.
Dir. Mel Brooks
In attendance: Mel Brooks