When HBO Max removed Gone with the Wind (1939) from rotation, due to cultural depictions of slavery, WarnerMedia later restored the film and added a disclaimer to place proper historical context. The same just happened for the Mel Brooks' film Blazing Saddles (1974). The iconic comedy classic stood out not only for its humor, but its social messages within. "The intro was added to ensure that the film was put into the proper social context," an HBO Max spokeswoman told The Hollywood Reporter. TCM host and University of Chicago cinema and media studies professor Jacqueline Stewart provides the intro to Blazing Saddles as she did for the Victor Fleming film.
Stewart puts the racist language and bigotry into context in the intro. "As the storyline implies, the issue of race is front and center in Blazing Saddles," she said. "And racist language and attitudes pervade the film. But those attitudes are espoused by characters who are portrayed here as explicitly small-minded, ignorant bigots. The real, and much more enlightened perspective, is provided by the main characters played by Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder. The host added trivia about the Warner Bros. film stating actor-comedian Richard Pryor was considered for the lead role of Sheriff Bart, bust the studio was uncomfortable due to his past substance abuse. Instead, Little was picked, and Wilder became his partner as the former gunslinger-turned drunk The Waco Kid. According to Brooks, Pryor came up with the character of Mongo (Alex Karras), a hulking white brute who acts as the primary muscle and alpha simpleton for Taggart (Slim Pickens). His most famous line, "Mongo, only pawn in game of life."
Blazing Saddles was a parody of westerns with a modern subversive context against racism. Bart is a slave under Taggart building a railroad. After falling into some quicksand with his partner, Bart has to free them both despite getting Taggart's attention only to be belittled to literally add insult to injury. Bart retaliates, knowing him out with a shovel. Set to be executed, deputy governor Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman) saves Bart making him sheriff of Rock Ridge. By the appointment, he hopes to offend the townsfolk so much they'll move out in disgust, which is crucial in Lamarr's plans as he plans to build the railroad through the town. Brooks not only directed Blazing Saddles, but also co-wrote with Pryor, Norman Steinberg, Andrew Bergman, and Alan Uger. The film garnered three Oscar nominations for Best Music, Original Song for the theme "Blazing Saddles,"; Best Film Editing, and Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Madeline Kahn. Kahn played the seductress and performer Lily Von Shtupp, who was brought in by Lemarr to break Bart. The film is not only listed in the National Film Registry for preservation but also listed as no. 6 for the American Film Institute's 100 Years…100 Laughs in 2000.