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''Blazing Saddles'' and profanity

Now released on DVD, Mel Brooks discusses his lack of restraint on the film’s commentary

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The working title, Tex X, made it sound too much like a blaxploitation flick. So, as director-cowriter Mel Brooks explains in a commentary on the DVD-only wide-screen reissue of Blazing Saddles, he renamed his seminal, semi-obscene, R-rated horse-opera parody with a phrase that ”says Western, and it says crazy.” The title wasn’t all Brooks had to wrangle: His first choice to play Sheriff Black Bart, Richard Pryor, was rejected by Warner Bros. because the stand-up comic and rising film star was, in Brooks’ argot, ”a known sniffer.” (Cleavon Little got the role.) Worried that he might nauseate audiences with Saddles‘ infamous gas-passing campfire scene, or go too far with the constant use of the N-word, not to mention Lili von Shtupp (Madeline Kahn) lewdly exclaiming ”It’s twue!” over Bart’s anatomical endowment, Brooks tells DVD viewers he was sustained by advice from a Warner exec: ”If you’re gonna go up to the bell, ring it.” Ding dong, restraint was dead.