Empire (UK) - - ON SCREEN -

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!”

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