Blazing Saddles: A Western for the Ages

By: Nathan Chandler
Image: Warner Bros.

About This Quiz

If you’re a fan of smart slapstick comedies, odds are pretty good you’ve seen "Blazing Saddles" more than once.

In the mid-1970s Mel Brooks treated audiences to a satirical send-up of classic American Western movies. In addition to being packed with unforgettable jokes, the film cast a critical eye at some of the racist stereotypes that were so prevalent in the Western films of the old days. The movie was almost scrapped when studio executives saw a screening and didn’t like it. Thankfully, the film was released and became such a hit that it made over $119 million dollars on just a $2.6 million budget and was nominated for three Academy Awards. "Blazing Saddles" was also ranked the sixth funniest movie of all time by the American Film Institute.

So, do you think you’re an expert on this hilarious piece of cinematic satire? You’ll never guess who was originally supposed to star as the sheriff … or maybe you will! Mel Brooks often appears in his own movies, but do you remember how many different roles he played in "Blazing Saddles"? And how many of the starring actors do you remember? If you’re a fan of this movie, you’ll surely know the answers to these and many more questions!

And if you know the movie as well as you think you do, you’ll definitely remember the most quotable lines! Can you finish this one? “These are people of the land. The common clay of the New West. You know…” Or how about, “My name is Jim. But most people call me…” The comic timing of the actors who delivered these lines made them jump off the screen and into our collective movie highlight reels.

In the tradition of great satire, Mel Brooks forced audiences to take a critical look at an ugly side of society and allowed them to laugh at the stupidity of it all. In addition to entertaining audiences, "Blazing Saddles" essentially became a prototype for a bunch of bi-racial buddy cop films to follow such as "Lethal Weapon" and "Beverly Hills Cop."

So now that we’ve stoked your memory with fun facts and questions about this time-tested classic of comedic social satire, do you think you can ace the quiz? Saddle up and give it your best shot by taking this quiz!

In the movie, a character famously punches which creature?

Actor Alex Karras was an NFL player when he took on the role of Mongo, who famously punches a horse.

What's different about the new sheriff in the town?

The movie goes to great lengths to ridicule the racist ideals of the typical Western. In this story, the new sheriff is black.

What's the name of the town featured in the movie?

The town of Rock Ridge is portrayed as a typical Old West town -- dusty and full of corruption that makes life harder for the locals.

Who played the character named Lili Von Shtupp?

Madeline Kahn played Von Shtupp so well she was nominated for best support actress at the 1974 Academy Awards.

How do the locals plan to save their town from the attorney general's henchmen?

A corrupt politician trying to take over your town? Just build an identical town down the road to distract him, like the residents of Rock Ridge did.

The movie centers around a town in the West where everyone has the same last name. What is their last name?

Everyone in the town is white and all of them have the same last name -- Johnson.

The movie was the first film ever to feature flatulence in a scene.

Brooks wanted to make fun of Westerns that always showed cowboys eating canned beans. In one famous scene, the cowboys devour beans and then exchange rounds of flatulence.

Mel Brooks plays a character who has what job?

Brooks is the governor who appoints a new sheriff to the town. The governor's name is William J. Le Petomane, a name borrowed from a real-life Frenchman known for his ability to fart at will.

What did studio executives think of the movie when they previewed the final version?

The executives hated the movie and nearly threw it away. After the filmmakers previewed the movie with a more general audience (who loved it), the executives changed their minds.

Who was originally cast in the role as sheriff?

Richard Pryor was the first pick for the role but he had a notorious history of drug arrests that made the studio unwilling to work with him. The role went to Cleavon Little and it became one of his most well-known roles.

What year was the movie released?

The film was nominated for three Academy Awards and is ranked #6 on the American Film Institute's "100 Years...100 Laughs" list.

What's the black sheriff's name?

The governor intends him to serve as a distraction of sorts, but Bart turns out to be surprisingly competent.

What do the townspeople use to initiate their attack on the attorney general's henchmen?

The townspeople construct dummies filled with dynamite, which they detonate as the henchmen attack. Eventually, their plan is victorious.

At the end of the movie, how do Bart and Jim ride off into the sunset?

The movie gets so ridiculous that it spills over into a "real" Hollywood movie set. Once the villains are vanquished, Jim and Bart hop into a limo and ride into the sunset.

The film was a box office success.

The movie was a huge hit. It cost a paltry $2.6 million to make and then snagged nearly $120 million in box office receipts.

Why does the state attorney general want the locals to leave town?

Attorney general Lamarr wants to scare off the locals so that land prices will plummet, making it cheaper for a railroad to do business on this stretch of land.

How many writers initially took part in writing the screenplay?

As the story goes, there were five writers all essentially yelling out their favorite ideas for inclusion in the script. Because Brooks was director he had veto power for the final script.

The movie's story is set in which year?

The movie is set in 1874, in the years after the end of the Civil War. It follows life on the post-war western frontier.

Which musician had a cameo in the film?

In one of the movie's first scenes, Bart rides toward Rock Ridge to take on his new job. Count Basie plays with his band in the middle of the desert.

Why were the filmmakers sued after the movie hit theaters?

Actress Hedy Lamarr sued because the movie used a character named Hedley Lamarr. The suit was eventually settled out of court.

How many Academy Award nominations did the film receive?

"Blazing Saddles" got great reviews that propelled it to three Academy Award nominations. It has received all sorts of accolades in the decades since its release.

The movie was NOT nominated for which of the following Academy Awards?

The movie wasn't nominated for Best Director. It didn't win any of the three awards for which it was nominated.

Who did NOT star in "Blazing Saddles"?

Mel Gibson obviously wasn’t really a fit for this movie, a silly, slapstick comedy with a Western setting.

A racial epithet is featured heavily during the film. How did the film's black workers respond to the racist word?

Cleavon Little (actor) and Richard Pryor (writer), both black, were supportive of the use of the N-word in the film. The movie's over-the-top script was what set it apart from others.

How many different onscreen characters did Mel Brooks play for the movie?

Brooks was all over this movie, playing three onscreen characters as well as providing voices for two others. He plays Governor Le Petomane, the Yiddish-speaking Indian chief, and an applicant for Hedley Lamarr's thug army wearing aviator sunglasses and a flight jacket.

What aspects of the film was Mel Brooks NOT invovled in?

Brooks didn't edit the movie. He acted, directed and wrote the quirky songs that helped to make the film so memorable.

Which actor turned down a part in the movie?

Brooks wanted Johnny Carson to take a leading role in the movie, but Carson wasn't interested. Gig Young was initially hired but then fired because of his drinking problem.

Mel Brooks showed the script to John Wayne in hopes that he might make an appearance. What did Wayne say about the script?

Wayne thought the script was funny but didn't think it would do his career any favors, so he passed on the role.

What was the name of the script's first draft?

From the get-go, the script was meant to be an homage of sorts to black civil rights leader Malcolm X. The original title was "Tex-X."

Who created the story?

Berman wrote the first screenplay that eventually became "Blazing Saddles." He also had a hand in writing "Fletch," "The Freshman," and other big Hollywood productions.

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