THE SCREEN:

Westerbeck, Colin L. Jr.

been large scale massacres in Hiroshima and Nagasaki present ninety-three minutes. But there are still dead (1945), Indonesia (1965-1966), Indochina (1965- spots where Brooks...

...It is, as the saying goes, offend us...
...his ap- ON Crowell, $10 pearance robbed the whole game of TELEVISION class...
...Nixon approaches the media as inspiring to the young candidate...
...Yet because of some obsessive Fear in the Air desire, and after hours of dismal prac- HARRY S. ASHMORE tice, he got to the point where his ball Norton, $6.95 went doggedly in the basket or his bat chopped out mean-spirited singles Presidential Television MICHAEL MURRAY through the infield...
...time, but has taken on too many jobs: actor, director, COLIN L. WESTERBECK, JR...
...The final free-for-all with the railroad had been cut from an original two hours plus to its gang takes place on a replica of Rocky Ridge's main Commonweal: 61 street which Bart persuades the townspeople to build...
...there in the person of Bart...
...Such an It might seem that Brooks has just decided he must eccentric wealth of material comes out of his imagi- ultimately sacrifice the slapstick to the satire...
...The fight now spills over onto a sound dish-speaking Indian chief...
...Before the comedy has successfully run its course, such a gesture of bemusement, repeated at BLACK COMEDY the conclusion of skit after skit, kills the laugh every time...
...work, he seems to have no real talent absolve him of any wrongdoing- For a time, despite the trauma of the for this game, no natural sense of mainly in order to absolve Eisenhower Great Debates, television was seen as the easy rhythms of demagoguery by for choosing him-that he could have the means to by-pass the print media, media, no feeling for the smooth swing said anything at all and gotten away his ancient enemy...
...It's no wonder that he plays Maybe Brooks himself has tried to go in too many the governor Ľas cross-eyed...
...and at once shrugs off these gullible yokels with an unconcerned air...
...At times, in fact, they cancel each other out, ness of many of the victims to fetal innocence...
...writer, producer, lyricist, etc...
...The fact is that Brooks is letting other Hollywood genres, most notably, of course, the us off easily, and by us I mean the audience for whom Western...
...Bart's ambiguity, this too Brooks' zaniness, his instinct for incongruities, doesn't agile dexterity of his which allows him first to particifail him here...
...with it...
...But there are still dead (1945), Indonesia (1965-1966), Indochina (1965- spots where Brooks can't think of anything genuinely 1973) and Burundi (1972-1973), to name only a few, funny to do, so he has the school marm, or whoever, where very large numbers of babes in arms and small say a dirty word...
...The mice en scene of slapstick is destroyed when the protagonist suddenly THE SCREEN switches from being the hapless victim of society to being a wry, ironic observer of it-when he unexpectedly turns out to be not so much the butt of the joke as the Mel Brooks has a truly baroque sense of humor, as practical joker himself...
...As a paro- him to be tolerant of white society rather than vice versa...
...especially where Bart is concerned...
...Like Bart, Brooks has to juggle too many points energy they are expending...
...Frank Shakespeare, of manipulation...
...which Miss Kahn warbles complainingly about how tired Blazing Saddles is thus careful-too careful-not to she is `from the waist down...
...Having thus taken himself tanical attitudes toward work, vice, sin and proper hostage, he edges himself through the crowd toward the retribution...
...There are two separate But as the camera zooms back from this scene, it re- roles in which Brooks appears as an actor...
...But the result must have been a TV executive who joined the elecMr...
...Eight scious of the media...
...They seem to feel that John Kennedy cost him the election...
...Like All in the Family, Brooks' film makes a sketch...
...Whatever the gesture might do for the social satire, 00000000000000 it is a wet blanket on the slapstick...
...As a social satire, it has this sheriff from any really acerbic visions of race relations...
...Bart pulls out his own gun as if he too were ment of nationalism, of religious belief, and of puri- getting the drop on himself...
...trying to recapture ever since, with let him get through to the people...
...Nixon cation, evidence of some magical...
...PRESIDENT MELVYN H. BLOOM His form was downright depressingdrab, awkward and flailing...
...Statistics in Presi- the Nixon team is always talking about years later came the abrupt reversal dential Television, for example, indi- getting past the media and reaching of this success when, in his view, a cate that he has popped up on prime people directly, without distortions and single half-hour on television with time far more often than his prede- interpretations...
...For instance, when motivating forces that can explain such a dichotomy he first arrives in Rocky Ridge, the town where he's seem to derive from a complex melange of conserva- to be sheriff, the entire population draws on him...
...Between working so hard different directions at once...
...Actually, it is probable creasingly fierce determination and litappearances...
...The almost indulgent reaction to them...
...In a tion campaign of 1968, is quoted by he does everything else, with wary hos- single stroke he lifted himself beyond Joe McGinniss in The Selling of the tility...
...One is the veals that the replica is on the back lot at the Warner corrupt governor of the territory, and the other a YidBrothers studio...
...these are barriers to be over- the tar of Herblock's brush...
...cessors, and at the same time he has the Checkers speech in the first Eisen- Between that time and the present, organized an impressive governmental hower campaign was a high point in Nixon has battled the media with injuggernaut to control everybody else's this effort...
...No President has been more con- come rather than tools to use...
...Out of congrabbing railroad men with the aid of an unwilling and sideration for our touchy sensibilities, Brooks shies away unwelcome sheriff...
...This is because the It is hard to avoid the conclusion that for a substan- social satire and the slapstick comedy make contrary tial number of anti-abortion proponents the dichotomy demands on his role...
...would not have a prayer of being MICHAEL MURRAY is a free-lance writer "common touch" which he has been elected because the press would not and theater director living in New York...
...NEWTON W. MINOW, So we might imagine Richard JOHN BARTLOW MARTIN, Nixon's football career at Whittier Col- LEE M. MITCHELL lege...
...They may also be a reflection of the in- refuge of the jail...
...To tive traditional values and attitudes, including an ele- escap...
...These closing scenes all go in a dozen pate in a scene, then to stand aside and admire his different directions at once...
...As a slapstick comedy it deals with the plight the film was made, the white middle-class audience with of a frontier town that has to defend itself from land- whom the film will have to make its nut...
...He must be capable of a knowing, herence to a general principle of "right to life...
...Basic Books, $8.95 Nixon's present reputation as a master of media...
...But somehow they are still handiwork, seems to reflect Brooks' own dilemma as not as funny as they ought to be considering all the director...
...It became President: "Without television, Richard for him a model of political communi- Nixon would not have a chance...
...He has not only tried to behind the camera and working in front of it as well, work on too many levels of consciousness at the same Brooks himself must have been cross-eyed by that point...
...It's not conclude they must be harmless as well...
...Despite generating with Blazing Saddles is that it's a comedy not black some material that works on all three levels, Brooks enough...
...Moreover, the multiple levels on which children were slaughtered, which elicited no discernible the film is attempting to work don't always enhance response from the anti-abortion forces despite the close- each other...
...But 22 March 1974: 62...
...The trouble enough to make up a whole movie...
...of view for his own good...
...And even when these charstage where filming of a musical is in progress, and it acters are not on the screen, Brooks still seems to be eventually ends up at Grauman's Chinese Theater...
...Thus mounting panic and confusion...
...between the concern over pre-birth life and a too fre- In Brooks' view the former requires that, as a black quent better-than-average willingness to see it extin- man, Bart see through the bigotries, hypocrisies and guished thereafter is incompatible with any real ad- illusions of the whites...
...our prejudices seem so apparent and inept that we might Unhappily, that's often all it is: a sketch...
...But in nation that this film is usually working full tilt on three truth I think it is a weakness in the social satire, not different levels at once: social satire, straight, old- its strength, that interferes with the total effect of the fashioned slapstick comedy, and parody of various film at these moments...
...his new film, Blazing Saddles, demonstrates...
...Yet despite all this hard that the electorate was so eager to tle understanding of the basic problems...
...So too we might think of Mr...
...Bart supplied by the corrupt state government turn out to takes whitey's abuse in stride as if the problem were for be a black man, Black Bart (Cleavon Little...
...dy it begins with a spoof on "Ghost Riders in the Sky" He can even manipulate the white man and avoid the sung by Frankie Lane, and includes a Madeline Kahn consequences of his malice so handily, that malice need take-off of Marlene Dietrich's Descry Rides Again in not be thought of as a legitimate problem anyway...
...In the end, however, it's the Hollywood parody that On the program notes distributed at the press screening, comes to the top and dominates both -the social satire a correction inserted by hand suggested that the film and the slapstick...
...securities, fears and difficulties of people trying to adapt This is a funny bit too, until Bart makes it to safety in a rapidly changing and confusing world...
...Wall all remember from high school '~' the athlete who had no gift for Public Relations and THE Presidential Campaigns sports but who made the team anyway...
...doesn't always have what he needs to keep the film going...

Vol. 100 • March 1974 • No. 3


 
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