Blazing Saddles intro

After making headlines by briefly pulling Gone with the Wind and restoring it with a video introduction explaining the historical context about the time the movie was released, HBO Max has added another introduction to a different movie in its streaming library.

Mel Brooks‘ 1974 classic Blazing Saddles, a film that’s widely regarded as one of the best comedies ever made, has received a new introduction from Turner Classic Movies host Jacqueline Stewart, providing the “proper social context” for the controversial western parody.

The Hollywood Reporter first noticed the new Blazing Saddles intro, and a HBO Max representative explained to the outlet that “the intro was added to ensure that the film was put into the proper social context.” If you’ve never seen the film, I’d highly recommend checking it out – it’s a provocative, hilarious piece of lowbrow comedy that takes the wind out of the sails of Hollywood’s romanticization of westerns while also being a smart commentary on race and policing in America. Some of the jokes are downright childish (there’s an extended farting sequence around a campfire), but some will have you laughing out loud, and its audacious, out-of-control climax is one for the books.

Stewart’s introduction lays out Richard Pryor’s involvement with the project and succinctly explains how some of the movie’s most uncomfortable, racist moments are representative of its most idiotic characters, not the views of the movie itself. “The issue of race is front and center in Blazing Saddles and racist language and attitudes pervade the film,” she says. “But those attitudes are espoused by characters who are explicitly portrayed here as narrow-minded, ignorant bigots. The film’s real and much more enlightened perspective is represented by the two main characters, played by Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder.”

Look, would I rather live in a world where audiences are wise enough to understand this movie’s aims without having them overtly explained to them? Of course. But we’re obviously living in a time where concepts like history and nuance and context are almost completely lost in American society, so I’m glad HBO Max is adding these intros to some of its content.

On a personal note, I’m the type of spoiler-averse viewer who regularly watches TCM and always fast-forwards through introductions like these because they inevitably show footage or spoil plot points from the thing I’m seconds away from watching. Then, after I watch the movie, I rewind it and watch the introduction last to learn the context and trivia about the thing I just saw. I know I can’t be the only person who does this, so if you do the same thing, I just want to let you know that you’re not alone out there.

Here’s the film’s trailer:

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