Since Al Barger so kindly reminded us of the 30th anniversary of Blazing Saddles
, I figured I'd take my chance and dive into the Limited Edition Blazing Saddles Collectors DVD set. Warner Bros. is really great with these sets and this is really no exception, but you'll always ask for more considering the retail price on this thing.
For this stil unaware 30 years later, Blazing Saddles tells the story of Bart, a black slave tossed into the role of sherrif in the small town of Rock Ridge by railroaders who want the land for their own purposes. The "kind" residents don't take too well to their latest aquisition (as expected of course) but thanks to their, shall we say, "lower than average intelligence level," Bart overcomes them which sets up a finale that ranks up there with the best.
While I'm sure everyone has read how "racist" this movie is, it's really not. Yes, certain words are spoken that certainly make it seem that way, but the fact of the matter is everyone is this movie is a butt of a joke at some point. The ending also pulls everyone together to prove it's point. 30 years later, it still ranks in my top 5 movies of all time without question simply because it's funny, with no hidden subtext like some close-minded people are led to believe.
Warner packages the DVD itself inside their hated cardboard snapper cases (which they are slowly abandoning thankfully). You'll get both the widescreen and full screen version of the film (though why you'd ever want to watch the latter is beyond me) on opposite sides of the disc. The print is only fair with heavily subdued colors, scratches all over the place, and heavy grain bringing everything down a notch. Still, it's probably better than this movie has ever looked. Sound is only available in 1.0 mono and seriously needs to be reworked. The final chapter would be a spectacle in 5.1. Hopefully Warner will fix these issues with their upcoming special edition, rumored for a mid-to-late 2004 release.
The only special features you'll get is a beaten up orignal trailer (which looks like it came from a 20 year old VHS tape) and a hour long interview with Mel Brooks that runs over the film. It's not a commentary like you would be led to believe, but just a random sputtering of facts about the film that usually have nothing to do with what's on screen. Still, your bound to learn something, but a commentary by some of the surviving cast would be great. Inlcusions of the scenes that were filmed for TV would've been welcome as well (at least as an extra if their not going to be in the film).
The gift set itself if presented in a sturdy cardboard case with a small reproduction poster on the front and side. The inards of the set are pulled out much like a drawer to a dresser. You'll find 8 reproduction lobby cards, a senitype (film frame matted inside a blown up picture of the frame for those not aware), and a MASSIVE replica movie poster measuring in at just over 3 feet tall. Sadly (and obviously), the poster had to be folded about 10 times to fit inside the box and actually displaying it without the folds being obvious is impossible. Also, I've seen a set of still pictures taken on the set shown on some websites but they are neither included or mentioned. A CD soundtrack would've been a welcome edition as well considering there is hardly $80 worth of stuff inside.
It's hard to recommended an $80 gift set to anyone unless their true die-hard fans of the film. In that case, you could probably dig this set up for around $40 if you look hard enough and in that case, it's worth every penny. Casual fans who don't have the script memorized wil be fine with just the disc but would also be better off to wait and see if Warner pulls through on the special edition. If you've never seen the movie, then it can be recommenede to all rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, a**-kickers, sh*t-kickers and Methodists. This is Mel Brooks at his absolute best.