Today marks the release of the Blazing Saddles 40th Anniversary Blu-ray, so it’s the perfect time to take a look at some fun facts you didn’t know about this legendary comedy. And what a Blu-ray it’s going to be, replete with exclusive “Art Cards” with quotes and images from the film, audio commentary with Mel Brooks, a cast reunion documentary, the 1975 television pilot inspired by the movie, deleted scenes, and the theatrical trailer. And here 40 years later, after you read these tidbits of trivia, you might even watch the film in a whole new light.
10. It’s One of Warner’s Most Successful Films of All Time
It grossed more than $120M at the domestic box office, lists as #6 on the American Film Institute’s best comedies of all time, received three Oscar nominations, and has already sold over 4.6M DVDs and Blu-rays.
9. It Was the First Film to Feature the Sound of a Fart
No, seriously. Mel Brooks figured that the classic cowboy diet of coffee and beans made them fart a lot, and so he made the artistic choice of including the sweet sounds of flatulence for a full minute. Film was never the same.
8. Richard Pryor was Supposed to Play Bart
The role of Bart was originally intended for Richard Pryor, but because of Pryor’s controversial stand-up acts and background, Brooks couldn’t get investors on board. Instead Pryor was made co-writer, and was later given the chance to star in another comedic Western – Adios Amigo.
7. The Indians are Actually Speaking Yiddish
A language Mel and the chosen people are well acquainted with. Bonus: “Shtup” means to “push” or “stuff” which may or may not have certain connotations.
6. Mel Brooks Got a Lot of Free Raisinets After the Film Was Released
According to a 1975 Playboy interview, Brooks says the Raisinets company sends him free Raisinets every month after mentioning them in the movie. (We’re going to guess that’s not still happening 40 years later. Even an old Jewish man has his Raisinet consumption limits.)
5. The N-Word Was Hard to Say Back Then Too
Burton Gilliam, who played Lyle was having some trouble getting the N-word out, especially when speaking directly to Cleavon Little. Finally, Cleavon took him aside and gave him a pep talk, letting him know it was okay because they weren’t his words, but if they were they’d be going to “fist city.”
4. President Obama Remembers Seeing ‘Blazing Saddles’ When He Was 13
During a speech honoring Brooks as a Kennedy Center Honoree, the President mentioned seeing Blazing Saddles at the age of 13. When Brooks asked how he got in, Obama replied, “I think I had a fake ID.”
3. Warner Bros. Executives Didn’t Like It
When Blazing Saddles was screened for the hoity-toity Warner Bros. executive, almost no one in the audience laughed. It was only after Brooks set up a screening for the studio employees who laughed their asses off that Warner Bros. agreed to take a chance on releasing it.
2. Mel Brooks Told the Theme Song’s Vocalist That ‘Blazing Saddles’ was a Drama
Mel Brooks never actually told theme song performer Frankie Laine that Blazing Saddles was actually a comedy, because he was worried if Frankie didn’t think it was a dramatic western that he wouldn’t sing with conviction.
1. Gene Wilder Leveraged His Casting for ‘Blazing Saddles’ Like a Boss
According to Mel, Gene requested that Brooks do his movie idea next. That movie was Young Frankenstein. Score.