Study Guide

Blazing Saddles

Blazing Saddles Summary

The movie opens with our hero Bart working on a black railroad crew. His white bosses are super racist and it's clear they put no value on a black person's life. The boss Taggart eventually sends Bart and a friend to check out some quicksand up ahead of the tracks they're laying, and Bart barely makes it out of the quicksand alive. So he decides to take out his frustrations by smashing Taggart in the back of the head with a shovel. 

And yes, Brooks plays all of this for laughs. (Pretty amazing when you think of how violent it sounds when you just describe it as it happens.)

Later on, Taggart goes to meet with his boss, a government man named Hedley Lamarr. Hedley wants to make sure there are no delays with building his new railroad, so when he finds out about the quicksand, he tells Taggart to run the railroad through a town called Rock Ridge. Taggart agrees to round up his henchmen and attack the town, hoping to force the townsfolk out.

Unfortunately for Hedley Lamarr, the people of Rock Ridge are too stubborn to pack up and leave after the first attack (which has left their town sheriff dead). Hedley decides he'll break the town's spirit by sending them Bart—a black guy—as their new sheriff. The hicks of Rock Ridge don't take too kindly to this idea and they threaten to shoot Bart the moment they see him. But Bart uses his wits to outsmart them and to hide himself inside the town's sheriff's office.

  

In the sheriff's office, Bart meets a local drunk named Jim. Jim apparently used to be called The Waco Kid and he still has the quickest draw in the West. Jim becomes Bart's only friend in Rock Ridge, although Bart remains optimistic about his ability to win the town over. 

Jim, on the other hand, ain't so optimistic.

When sending Bart fails to chase away the people of Rock Ridge, Taggart sends in his toughest goon, a monster named Mongo, to destroy the town. The townsfolk are so desperate that they come crawling back to Bart to beg for his help. Bart appreciates the irony of the situation, but he also does his job and uses an exploding box of candy to stop Mongo. 

Why? Because it's a Mel Brooks movie.

Afterward, the people of the town are a little more willing to accept him. But they still won't speak to him in public.

After Mongo fails, Hedley sends a beautiful singer named Lili to seduce and destroy Bart. But the plan backfires when Lili falls in love with Bart and joins his side of the conflict. Hedley nearly loses his mind and decides to make one last effort to ruin the town. He and Taggart set to work on recruiting an army of the most vicious outlaws in all the Wild West.

Sheriff Bart finds out about Hedley Lamarr's army and gathers all of the people of Rock Ridge to tell them his plan. He has gotten the help of the local black railroad workers, and he plans on building an exact replica of the town of Rock Ridge that lies three miles east of the real town.

That way, Hedley Lamarr's army will attack the wrong place and all their efforts will be pointless. The plan works like a charm and Bart detonates some dynamite to throw the outlaw army into chaos. Then he and his buddies ride in to finish off the rest of Hedley's thugs.

In the movie's final scene, the battle between good guys and bad guys gets so out of control that it busts out of the set for Blazing Saddles and brings the fight onto other movie sets in the Warner Brothers' studios.

Again...Mel Brooks.

Eventually, Bart tracks down Hedley and shoots him in the groin.  Bart ends the movie by riding off into the sunset with his buddy Jim. He'd like for us to think his work in Rock Ridge is done and he needs to go help other people. But the truth is that without an enemy, Rock Ridge is a super boring town and Bart can't wait to get away from its dumb, racist inhabitants.

  • Scene 1

    Scene 1

    • The opening credits roll while we stare out at a desert landscape. Back in the day, you had to put up all the movie credits before the movie began, so be prepared for this to take a while.
    • We cut to a work gang getting yelled at by a boss while they try to drive rails for a railroad. One of the bosses (Lyle) tells them all to stop lollygagging and then punishes a Chinese worker for fainting from the desert heat.
    • Lyle then asks the black workers to sing him a good old slave song. The men look offended at first, then turn and do a perfect cover of the hit song, "I Get a Kick Out of You" by Frank Sinatra.
    • Lyle loses it and says he want to hear something like "The Camp Town Ladies" or "Swing Low Sweet Chariot."
    • But when the men look confused, Lyle and his gang start singing the song themselves. And before you know it, Lyle's crew is performing the whole song while the black workers laugh at them.
    • Eventually, Lyle's boss Taggart shows up and wants to know why people are standing around singing. He tells Lyle to send two of the black men up ahead to check out some quicksand. So off goes a guy named Bart and his buddy Charlie.
    • Eventually, the two men hit a patch of quicksand and sink. Before they know it, they're up to their shoulders in quicksand.
    • Taggart shows up and throws a rope into the quicksand, but he only wants to save the handcart that Bart and Charlie were driving.
    • Luckily, one of Bart's feet is on an iron fail underneath the quicksand. He and Charlie manage to struggle their way out. By the time they're free, Taggart is yelling at them for being lazy on the job. He throws them a shovel and tells them to put it to good use.
    • So Bart does just that by smashing it against the back of Taggart's head.
    • Whatever works, we guess.
  • Scene 2

    Scene 2

    • We look in on the office of a man named Hedley Lamarr, the Assistant to the Governor. Taggart (with a bandaged head, naturally) is in his office explaining how the railroad will have to plow through a town called Rock Ridge in order to avoid the quicksand it's run into.
    • Hedley Lamarr takes a moment to stick his head out the window because of some noise outside. But it's just the town hangman hanging a long line of people. Hedley tells him to try and keep it down.
    • Hedley decides that the best thing to do is to scare all the inhabitants of Rock Ridge away. Then there'll be nothing standing in the way of his railroad.
    • Because plans like that always work.
    • Taggart suggests that they scare the people by terrorizing and killing the people of Rock Ridge.
    • Hedley notices Taggart's bandage and asked what happened. Taggart answers that one of his black workers (Bart) hit him on the head with a shovel and that Taggart would like to see him hanged for the crime.
    • Hedley agrees and asks his hangman to squeeze in another booking. But the hangman says he's booked solid until Monday; so it'll have to wait.
  • Scene 3

    Scene 3

    • We look in for the first time on the town of Rock Ridge while a song tells us about how peaceful the place is.
    • But as usually happens when things are super-peaceful in movies, all hell breaks loose. A pack of murderers and thieves descends on the town.
    • When the horror is over, the people of Rock Ridge meet at the church to decide whether they should all leave.
    • The man at the pulpit says he's getting out of town ASAP, but then a grizzled old prospector by the name of Gabby Johnson stands up and says in total gibberish that hfjidlsahf fdoifid fofofosd.
    • Translation: he'll never leave.
    • Next, a more eloquent guy gets up and thanks Gabby for his courageous speech. He pretty much says the same thing in regular English, saying that the people of Rock Ridge shouldn't give up.
    • The man at the pulpit says that if people are going to say, they'll need a new sheriff. Turns out that the last one got killed in the recent attack on the town (but don't expect the Rock Ridge folks to put that in the job posting).
    • One of the townspeople says the governor should send them a new sheriff, since there's no point in the town getting one of its own people killed. In other words, the people of Rock Ridge don't mind someone they don't know getting killed.
    • Ain't that heartwarming?
    • Just as the people decide to write the governor, a batch of lit dynamite comes through one of the windows and everyone ducks as it blows up.
  • Scene 4

    Scene 4

    • We flash to the office of the governor, where Hedley Lamarr is trying to get Governor Lepetomane to sign a bill allowing the government to steal tons of land from the Native Americans in exchange for a box of paddleballs.
    • This might sound like a totally silly joke, but it comes sadly close to the historical reality of how white settlers stole land from Indigenous peoples. Yes, Brooks plays this for laughs, but there's always that little part of the humor that pricks our conscience and makes us say, "Heh heh, yeah."
    • As the governor finishes up signing the bills, his large-breasted secretary tells him that an urgent telegraph has arrived from the town of Rock Ridge. It tells of how the town has been attacked and the sheriff has been murdered.
    • The governor flips out and says that the state must find a way to protect the town while Hedley Lamarr stands beside him looking concerned. Clearly, he doesn't want the governor to know that '> the cause of all the mayhem.
    • Hedley says he'll personally find a new sheriff for Rock Ridge and he calls a close to the meeting with a triumphant "harumph!"
    • We go back to Hedley's office, where he's wondering how he can turn the Rock Ridge situation to his advantage. He glances out the window just as Bart is about to be hanged, and then he has the amazing idea of sending Bart as the new sheriff of Rock Ridge.
    • Next thing we know, Hedley is back at the governor's house with Bart. He tells the governor that Bart will be the new sheriff of Rock Ridge. The governor thinks it's a terrible idea because Bart is black, but Hedley says that becoming the first man to ever appoint a black sheriff will make the governor go down in history.
    • Surprise, surprise: the governor suddenly loves the idea.
    • The governor knows Bart will be killed by the people of Rock Ridge in one day, but Hedley says that's all they need to put the governor in the history books.
    • So it's settled, and Hedley sends Bart off to his new job as sheriff of Rock Ridge.
  • Scene 5

    Scene 5

    • We find Bart looking dashing in his sheriff's outfit as he rides into Rock Ridge. On his way, he passes the Count Basie orchestra, which is playing his intro music out in the middle of the desert.
    • And if you're wondering how they got there, don't. Mel Brooks might as well be standing right beside you saying, "Hey, don't worry about it."
    • A welcome party is at Rock Ridge waiting for the new town sheriff. Gabby Johnson sees Bart coming and tries to tell everyone that he's black. But no one can understand Gabby's gibberish.
    • Once the people of Rock Ridge see that Bart is black, they all go for their guns. But Bart outsmarts them by putting a gun to his head and threatening to kill himself if they don't back off.
    • For some reason, this trick works and Bart is able to back away until he's safe in one of the town's buildings. So yeah, the folks of Rock Ridge aren't all that bright.
  • Scene 6

    Scene 6

    • The people of Rock Ridge have a town hall meeting to discuss their new sheriff. They have written a new letter to the governor explaining their outrage about their new sheriff.
    • Back in the sheriff's office, Bart gets settled while one of the drunks in his jail cells wakes up. Bart goes into the cell and helps the guy straighten himself out.
    • The man says his name is Jim and that he doesn't care if he lives or dies (Hahahaha. Good one, Mel Brooks).
    • Bart and Jim settle down to a game of chess. Jim takes another huge drink of liquor and Bart asks him why he drinks so much.
    • Jim says he used to be called the Waco Kid, and Bart doesn't believe him because the Waco Kid is supposed to have the fastest hands in the West.
    • Bart wants a demonstration; so Jim shows how fast his hands are by snatching a chess piece from across the table before Bart can so much as look at it.
    • Jim says that he eventually stopped calling himself the Waco Kid because people started coming from all around to get a piece of him. He killed so many challengers he can't even remember how many there were.
    • Then one day, a little kid challenged him and Jim just turned away. That's when the kid shot him directly in the bum (tee hee). So Jim limped to the nearest saloon and he hasn't stopped drinking since.
    • Now it's time for Jim to hear Bart's story. So Bart talks about how he and his family were once part of a long wagon train heading west. A huge number of Sioux attacked the wagon train. And before anyone knew what was going on, Bart's family was surrounded. The Sioux chief (played by director Mel Brooks) told them they're free to go.
    • For some reason, we flash back to Bart and he says the rest of his story is history. Looking back, it seems like this last scene has served no purpose other than giving Mel Brooks the chance to dress up as a Native American.
    • Seriously, watch the thing and tell us we're wrong.
  • Scene 7

    Scene 7

    • A group of Hedley Lamarr's thugs hangs out in the middle of the desert eating baked beans. They spend the next minute or so farting really loudly.
    • Now you might not think of this as a landmark scene, but it was actually the first time there was ever an audible fart in a major American film. So yes, every one of those farts is a part of film history.
    • Taggart finally comes out of his tent and asks which of the men wants to kill the new sheriff of Rock Ridge.
    • Lyle pops up and tells Taggart they should send a huge man named Mongo to go kill Bart.
    • Back in Rock Ridge, Bart and Jim hang out in the sheriff's office. Bart lights up a joint while Jim shaves.
    • Jim says that Bart shouldn't go out into the town that day because he'll never win the people over.
    • Bart says it'll all be fine and heads into the street. He greets an old woman kindly, but she tells him "Up yours!" and walks away.
    • She adds a racial slur at the end, and don't expect us to let her off the hook just because she's a tiny old woman who's probably been dead for forty years now. Racism is still racism.
    • Back in the station, Jim consoles Bart about his failed attempts to win the town over, saying that the townsfolk are the "common clay of the new west. You know: morons." Just as Bart cheers up, he hears a rumbling and asks what's going on.
    • We look outside and see that Mongo is entering the town, scattering people wherever he goes. He hitches up at the saloon and heads inside.
    • Back in the sheriff's office, a townsperson runs in and tells Bart he needs to help the town. Bart finds it ironic that the town is running to him for help, but he's still willing to do his job.
    • It sounds like he doesn't understand what he's getting into with Mongo.
    • Bart starts to put on his gun, but Jim tells him that shooting Mongo just makes him mad. It doesn't seem like Mongo can be hurt by bullets.
    • We cut back to Mongo crushing a bunch of people in the saloon when Bart walks in dressed as a delivery person. He says he has a candy-gram for Mongo.
    • When Mongo opens the box, it explodes in his face. Bart walks out to Looney Tunes music, and Mel Brooks gets to show all of us just how much he loves Bugs Bunny. And since this is a Warner Brothers movie, he gets to use the song for free. What a deal, eh?
  • Scene 8

    Scene 8

    • Hedley Lamarr sits in a bath while Taggart scrubs his back (and yes, this is funny). It turns out that the Mongo plan didn't work, so Hedley needs a new approach to taking out Bart. All of a sudden, he has a new idea. Instead of a beast, he decides to send a beauty to do his dirty work.
    • Out of nowhere, Hedley asks where his bath-time froggie is, and Taggart frantically searches until he finds it. Hedley is immediately calmed down by the little squeaking frog toy.
    • Back at the sheriff's station, we see Mongo chained up to a cell. The same old woman who said "up yours" to Bart apologizes.
    • Bart says that by this rate, he'll get to talk to the white people in broad daylight in twenty years' time. Jim laughs and says he's heading out to see a show. Apparently, there's a beautiful singer in town named Lili Von Shtupp.
    • We look in on Lili's dressing room, where Hedley Lamarr walks in and tries to flirt with her. Lili sees right through him and asks what job he wants her to do.
    • Hedley says he wants Lili to seduce and abandon Sheriff Bart, thus breaking his spirit. And if you don't think this sounds like a well thought-out plan, we agree with you. At least the Mongo one involved Bart's brains getting bashed in.
    • Lili heads onstage and sings a song to a saloon filled with rowdy cowboys.
    • When the song is over, Bart gets a note from Lili saying she'd like to see him in her dressing room. Jim spits out his beer with surprise (and probably some jealousy).
  • Scene 9

    Scene 9

    • Bart heads into Lili's dressing room and gives her a red rose. She heads out to slip into something "more comfortable" and immediately walks back into the room, blowing out the lamps as she gets closer to Bart.
    • There is a knock on the door and Lili goes to speak with Hedley at the door. He asks how it's going and Lili tells him that seducing Bart is a cinch.
    • Lili closes the door on Hedley and heads back to the couch with Bart, where we can hear pants unzipping.
    • The next morning, Lili makes Bart some breakfast. He finishes up and says he needs to go back to work. As it turns out, Lili is the one who wants Bart around more than Bart wants to stay.
    • Bart gets back into work looking exhausted. Jim tells him that he's received a demand for Mongo's release signed by Hedley Lamarr. Bart is curious as to why a bigwig like Hedley would care about Mongo, but since the document is legal, he's forced to let Mongo go.
    • Bart walks over and wakes Mongo up with some water. But Mongo doesn't want to leave the sheriff's office. He wants to stay with Bart because he respects the fact that Bart whipped him and he has nowhere else to go.
    • Jim asks Mongo why Hedley Lamarr cares about Rock Ridge, and Mongo says he isn't sure, but that it all has something to do with where the railroad is going.
    • Bart decides that this is a good time to go snooping around the railroad construction site.
  • Scene 10

    Scene 10

    • We look in on the railroad crew, where Bart's old buddy Charlie goes to get a drink of water. He sees Bart coming and can't believe that the guy is alive and is now a sheriff to boot.
    • When Bart mentions that he's the sheriff of Rock Ridge, Charlie mentions that the railroad is going to go through that town.
    • Some of the other workers recognize Bart and come to say hi, but then Taggart and his crew of white dudes come blazing in to see what's going on. Taggart recognizes Bart as the man who hit him with a shovel and can't believe that Bart is a sheriff.
    • His henchman Lyle says he'll cheer Taggart up by having his men shoot Bart on the count of three.
    • The men all draw their guns and try to fire. But before they can even get a shot off, Bart's deputy Jim shoots the guns out of all their hands. All of the people on Bart's side start cheering.
    • Back in Hedley's office, Hedley tries to think of a new way to beat Bart. Lili (who's tied up in his office for no apparent reason) tells him that he'll never find a way to beat Bart because Bart is too much of a man for him.
    • Hedley decides that the only thing he can do is recruit an army of all the worst murderers and thugs in the West. Sounds like a pretty great plan, right? After all, who wouldn't trust a group of proven psychopaths to carry out orders?
  • Scene 11

    Scene 11

    • Back at Rock Ridge, Bart and Jim return from their successful journey to find everyone in the town packing up to leave. Bart asks why and one of them shows him a "Help Wanted" poster asking for all the worst criminals and thieves in the West. Sound familiar?
    • Bart asks the people for twenty-four hours to come up with a brilliant plan for foiling Hedley Lamarr's new plan.
    • Meanwhile, Hedley and Taggart set up a booth in the desert for interviewing the villains who want to apply to his evil army. From a distance, Jim and Bart watch the men assembling and answering Hedley's job interview questions.
    • Jim and Bart realize they need to get closer to see what's happening, so they beat up a couple of guys in Ku Klux Klan outfits and disguise themselves (and no, no one should feel bad about those dudes getting their clocks cleaned).
    • Bart and Jim walk up to Hedley's registration desk, but when Bart goes to sign his name he reveals his hands and Hedley knows he's black (which doesn't really jibe with being from the Ku Klux Klan).
    • Bart and Jim make a run for it and head for Charlie's tent. Bart tells Charlie to round up the entire work crew and to get all the paint, wood, and building supplies he can get his hands on. Then Bart wants Charlie and the gang to meet him three miles east of Rock Ridge at midnight.
    • Bart goes to meet the people of Rock Ridge in the middle of the night and tells them that they're going to build an exact replica of their town. In other words, they'll create a decoy town for Hedley and his men to destroy.
    • Some say that they don't have the time for a project like that, but at this moment, Bart's friends show up. In exchange for freedom and their own land to farm, Bart's friends are willing to help build the fake town.
    • But no one would ever fall for such a stupid plan, right?
  • Scene 12

    Scene 12

    • It's morning, and the people of Rock Ridge have somehow managed to build an entire replica of their town. It's amazing what you can do with a little elbow grease and a completely unrealistic plot point.
    • Nearby, Hedley Lamarr gives a passionate speech to his army of villains. He gets them to pledge their allegiance to him and the evil for which he stands. It's pretty stirring (in an super-villain sort of way), although he's certainly no Bill Pullman.
    • Back at the fake Rock Ridge, Bart says that he and his team will still have to make dummy replicas of everyone from the town. While people get to work on that, Bart takes Jim and hatches a plan to slow down Hedley Lamarr's vicious gang.
    • When Hedley Lamarr's army comes rushing through the desert, they hit a tollbooth in the middle of the desert that has the governor's name on it.
    • One by one, they fish in their pockets for the correct change to get through. Eventually, they send someone to head back and get a bunch of dimes for the toll.
    • When they're all through the tollbooth, the villains ride through the fake Rock Ridge and start trashing the place.
    • From atop a nearby hill, the people of Rock Ridge push down the handle on a detonator. They've rigged the replica town with explosives, but the explosives don't go off.
    • Bart asks Jim if he can shoot the dynamite with a crack shot and he says he'll give it a try. Of course, he nails it on the first shot.
    • Just as the dynamite goes off, Taggart realizes that the town is a fake. He and his men are blown to bits as the people of Rock Ridge storm back in and beat up the invaders. It ain't exactly the battle of Helm's Deep, but it's not bad.
  • Scene 13

    Scene 13

    • While the battle is going on at Rock Ridge, the camera pans so far to the left that it leaves the movie set altogether and shows us the many soundstages of the Warner Brothers film lot.
    • We look in on a bunch of guys in tuxedos doing a dance number for a completely different movie. One of the dancers messes up and the director steps up to show them how to do the dance properly.
    • As the dancers start again, the fight from Rock Ridge busts into the room and drags the dancers into the huge brawl.
    • We cut again, now to the Warner Brothers cafeteria, where a bunch of actors in random costumes are eating and chatting. Now all the fights and dancers bust into this room and pull all the actors into the big fight. At this moment, a tour of Warner Brothers comes through and gets pulled in too.
    • Hedley Lamarr comes out of a men's bathroom and sneaks away from the action.
    • Before we know it, the actors are all running out of Warner Brothers and into the streets of Los Angeles. Hedley grabs a cab and flees the scene, but Bart comes riding after him on a horse.
    • You might think that a horse could never catch a taxi, but you probably should've stopped calling out this movie on its realism long ago.
  • Scene 14

    Scene 14

    • You might have though this movie couldn't get any wackier. But in the final chase, Hedley Lamarr takes a cab to the famous TCL Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.
    • And sure enough, the movie playing at the theatre is Blazing Saddles, the same one we're watching at this moment.
    • Hedley runs into the movie theatre, buys a snack, and takes a seat while the feature plays.
    • On the screen, we see Bart arriving at the movie theatre, which tells Hedley to run for it. Outside, Bart catches Hedley and tells him his day has come.
    • But Hedley wants to settle their score like men, so Bart puts down his gun and tries to fight Hedley. But then Hedley reveals that he had a gun all along. Bart rolls out of the way in time and shoot Hedley in the groin. Tee hee hee.
    • Now that Hedley is done for, Jim and Bart head into the theatre to watch the end of the movie.
    • On the screen, we look back at Rock Ridge, where the people are asking Sheriff Bart to stick around. But Bart says he's needed elsewhere and can't stay. He makes a passionate final speech and rides away, but not before the people call him out for being full of it.
    • In any case, Bart rides away and stops to say goodbye to Jim. Then he changes his mind and invites Jim to ride away with him.
    • In the final shot, we see Jim and Bart ride off into the desert until they reach a limousine. They get off their horses, jump into the car, and ride away.