The Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks argument at the centre of ‘Blazing Saddles’
(Credit: Netflix)


The Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks argument at the centre of 'Blazing Saddles'

The realm of comedy has a rich history of thriving double acts, featuring beloved duos like Laurel and Hardy, French and Saunders, and Tim and Eric, each resonating with audiences across various eras of humour. Yet, one dynamic cinematic duo often overlooked is the collaboration between director Mel Brooks and star Gene Wilder, responsible for crafting a trilogy of timeless classic comedies.

The 1967 film The Producers was the first movie the pair would collaborate on, with Brooks taking an instant liking to Wilder and his comedy chops. Appearing in the flick beside the likes of Zero Mostel and Dick Shawn, the movie, which told the story of a bunch of fraudsters who try and oversell interest in terrible theatre productions, was a critical favourite, with even George Harrison naming it as one of his all-time favourites.

So successful was the flick that, seven years later, the duo would once again work together, releasing two films in the very same year. The first was Blazing Saddles, a spoof comedy that took apart a number of western classics from such stars as John Wayne, telling the story of a corrupt politician who tries to destroy a small community using strange, devious means.

Elsewhere, the pair also released possibly their very best movie, Young Frankenstein, a comedy that told the story of an American who believed he was the son of the famous fictional scientist.

Penned by Wilder, back in 2005, the comedian recalled how, during the writing of the film, he shared his very first spat with Mel Brooks. The revelation came during a discussion with Conan O’Brien, where Wilder outlined how the argument came as a result of the ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’ scene.

“I would write all day, and then he would come over after dinner and look,” Wilder recalled of his writing process, “And one night he came over and he looks at the pages and says, ‘You tap dance to Irving Berlin in top hat and tails with the monster? Are you crazy? It’s frivolous.’ And I started to argue, and I argued for about 20 minutes until I was at least red in the face, I think it may have been blue. And all of a sudden, he says, ‘OK, it’s in’”.

Continuing, Wilder explained, “I said, ‘Then why did you put me through this?’ And he said, ‘Because I wasn’t sure if it was right or not. And if you didn’t argue for it, I knew that it would be wrong. But if you really argued, I knew it was right’”.

Take a look at Wilder’s recollection of the incident below.