HBO Max has added a disclaimer to Mel Brooks’ 1974 comedy “Blazing Saddles” that puts the film’s racist, explicit material into the appropriate context.
As with the intro that was added to “Gone With the Wind,” Turner Classic Movies host Jacqueline Stewart records the three-minute introduction for the film that automatically plays before streaming “Blazing Saddles.”
Stewart makes clear that anything racist in the film is very much the point, as all of the offensive material is “explicitly stated by characters portrayed as narrow minded, ignorant bigots.”
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“The film’s real, and much more enlightening perspective is from its two main characters,” Stewart says of the leads played by Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder. She further refers to “Blazing Saddles” as one of the “greatest comedies of all time” and calls it as “provocative today as it was when it premiered back in 1974.”
Stewart also provides some additional historical context about how the film was made, saying that though Richard Pryor was considered for the role of the sheriff, Warner Bros. felt his history with drugs and his stand-up material to be too controversial.
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However, Pryor remains credited as a screenwriter, and she says that Pryor’s ability to call out racism through his provocative stand-up paired perfectly with Brooks’ directing style, in which “absolutely nothing is off limits, and jokes can tackle every sensitive subject.”
“Gone With the Wind” was briefly pulled from HBO Max following the streaming service’s launch until an introduction could be recorded that put the film’s romanticized view of slavery and the Antebellum South into proper context. The move coincided with many other streaming services pulling episodes of TV shows in which characters donned Black face.