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Blazing Saddles: 30th Anniversary Special Edition

The Mel Brooks Box Set Collection

Chalk up Blazing Saddles as only a lampoon of Hollywood westerns and you miss the point by a Texas mile. Mel Brooks' R-rated jumble of Borscht Belt shtick was also, in 1974, a liberating splash of rules-breaking social satire hosing down everyday conventions of racial bigotry, sex, and things you were not "supposed" to see or hear on a screen. Clevon Little stars as Bart, a black railroad-worker used by villainous Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman) and the buffoonish state governor (Brooks) in a dastardly land-snatch scheme. The bad guys, abetted by henchman Slim Pickens and Madeline Kahn's Teutonic femme fatale Lili Von Shtupp, appoint Bart the new sheriff of bandit-besieged Rock Ridge. Their purpose: to so offend the little frontier town's "white, God-fearing" squares that they'll abandon the territory to the new railroad. Bart, though, has more smarts than everyone else in town put together. Teaming with a washed-up gunslinger (Gene Wilder), he sets out to prove himself, save the town, and defeat those who would "stamp out runaway decency in the West."

Warner's 30th Anniversary Special Edition handily replaces the inferior DVD that's been out since 1997. This new release gives us a great-looking print — clean and sharp and vivid — transferred with improved definition and in its 2.35:1 (anamorphic) ratio. The sound arrives in an able-bodied DD 5.1 remix. Starting the extras is Brooks' audio essay from the previous DVD edition. New stuff includes Back in the Saddle, a nostalgic featurette with members of the cast and production team; Intimate Portrait: Madeline Kahn from Lifetime Television; and Black Bart, the 1975 pilot for a deservedly failed TV series. Keep-case.

—Mark Bourne

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