Blazing Saddles (1974) Selected by Kim Newman, contributing editor
Gene Wilder wasn’t a comedian — he was a comic actor. At the centre of Mel Brooks’ anything-fora-laugh Blazing Saddles, Wilder delivers an affecting performance as town drunk/fast-draw artist Jim. He ambles through his performance taking cues from Gregory Peck in The Gunfighter.
“Well, it got so that every pissant prairie punk who thought he could shoot would ride into town to try out the Waco Kid,” begins his big monologue, delivered with a wistful smile. “It got pretty gritty. I started to hear the word ‘draw’ in my sleep. Then, one day, I was just walking down the street when I heard a voice behind me say, ‘Reach for it, mister!’ I spun around and there I was — face-to-face with a six-year-old kid. Well, I just threw my guns down and walked away.” Killer pause — then, with a howl of undimmed rage, “Little bastard shot me in the ass!”