The campfire scene in BLAZING SADDLES (dir. Mel Brooks, 1974)

If you are looking for good old fashion knee-slapping comic relief, look no further than “The Campfire” scene in Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles. I rate this moment in the film as the funniest movie scene for a few reasons. As most know, the film itself is a legendary comedy classic and you probably have heard many quotes from it on any given occasion (“excuse me while I whip this out,” “hey where all da white women at,” and “shut up you Teutonic swat” to name a few). Thinking about the scene itself in context, we have an outrageously funny satirical cowboy movie that already is going against practically all conventional characteristics and American spirit of old Westerns (think Director John Ford or The Duke). In almost all of those Westerns there is a fire scene wherein the men are gathered around, spitting here and there, eating from tin pans, and listening to whoever is playing the harmonica or maybe guitar. As certainly the case for me when I first saw the film, starting the domino effect of gas relief and burps over a bowl of beans was least expected even though the rest of the film was poking fun at traditions of a Western. One would not think minutes around a campfire would have any more consideration than just a standard campfire. I see this as a major reinforcement of the writer’s (there were 4) creative imagination and eye for detail in every aspect of cowboy movies. That element of writing and directing brilliance is an important criterion in expressing what the scene contributes to the whole body of the film. Of course having gas or loud burps does not seem appropriate for a family film, but anyone taking their family to this film would have lost that G-rated flavor many scenes before. It just does not get much better than Taggart’s immediate reaction coming out of his tent and then replying “I can see ya’ve had enough.” This is why I rank “The Campfire” scene as number 1.

–Eddie Morgan III