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11 Things You Might Not Know About Blazing Saddles

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Focusing on the rise of a black sheriff in the American west of 1874, Blazing Saddles is widely regarded as the most audacious comedy of Mel Brooks’ directorial career. A subversive, fearless satire bent on tackling the ever-present absurdity of prejudice, it has maintained an impressive and growing fan-base more than four decades later. Here are some remarkable tidbits about one of the greatest spoofs ever made.

1. The Movie Was Originally Going to be Entitled Tex X: An Homage to Malcolm X

Other rejected titles include Black Bart and The Purple Sage. Brooks struggled to find a better name after he signed on to direct. Eventually, he came up with Blazing Saddles while taking a shower.

2. John Wayne Politely Declined to Appear in the Movie

Hoping to include the Western genre’s most recognizable star, Brooks asked Wayne to read the script. Although the Duke found it hilarious, he chose not to join the cast, fearing for his career. However, Wayne did declare, “I’ll be the first one in line to see it!” 

3. Blazing Saddles was the First Movie to Incorporate Audible Flatulence

Blazing Saddles, for me, was a film that truly broke ground. It also broke wind … and maybe that’s why it broke ground,” Brooks once said. Having noticed that that cowboys generally subsisted on a diet of canned beans in traditional westerns, he argued, “you can only eat so many beans without some noise happening there.” The resulting “fart scene,” in which a gang of thugs pass gas around a campfire, made movie history. Brooks knew this gag would get a big reaction, so he deliberately “made the farts louder” to prevent the audience’s laughter from drowning them out. However, despite his foresight, the offending noises were muted in the Blazing Saddles TV release.

4. The Hulking Henchman “Mongo” was Portrayed by a Former NFL Player

Alex Karras was a defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions who began appearing in films during the early 1960s. (The scene in which Mongo punches out a horse was inspired by Brooks’ former boss, comedian Sid Caesar, who supposedly knocked one unconscious in real life.)

5. Actor Slim Pickens (Taggart) voluntarily slept outside with a Winchester rifle during most of the shoot to get a feel for his character.

See Taggart’s noggin meeting the business end of a shovel in this hilarious (and NSFW) clip:

6. Gene Wilder Was Far From Brooks’ First Choice to Play “The Waco Kid”

“He was magnificent!” Brooks said of Wilder in the 2004 DVD documentary Back in the Saddle. Multiple actors—including Johnny Carson—turned down the part before screen veteran Gig Young was hired for the role. At first Young seemed perfect for the boozy character … until it became painfully clear that he was an actual alcoholic. The performer began violently throwing up all over the set before being rushed to a nearby hospital. Luckily, Wilder knew most of “the Kid’s” lines and took over the part almost immediately.

7. Gene Wilder pitched the premise ofYoung Frankenstein to Brooks on the set one day.

The movie that would become Brooks’ next directorial project began with an idea Wilder approached him about while filming Saddles. “His [premise] was very simple,” Brooks recalls. “What if the grandson of Dr. Frankenstein wanted nothing to do with the family whatsoever? He was ashamed of those wackos. I said, ‘That’s funny.’”

8. Madeline Kahn Earned An Oscar Nomination for Her Portrayal of Saloon Singer Lili von Shtupp.

After being fired from the cast of Mame (1974), she took the part, the first of several she’d be given by Brooks. Kahn also starred in his later films Young Frankenstein (1974) and High Anxiety (1977).

9. World War Z Author Max Brooks (Mel’s Son) was Born During the Movie’s Lengthy Writing Process

Check out Max’s official site here.

10. A Pilot For an Unmade Spinoff TV Series Called Black Bart Was Filmed in 1975.

The episode has been uploaded in full to YouTube. (WARNING: NSFW!)

11. The American Film Institute Called Blazing Saddles the 6th-Greatest American Comedy in 2000.

It was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected for preservation by the National Film Registry six years later. Additionally, former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg cited Blazing Saddles as his all-time favorite film, and the late Roger Ebert gave it a perfect four-star rating, calling it “a crazed grabbag of a movie that does everything to keep us laughing except hit us over the head with a rubber chicken … It’s an audience picture; it doesn’t have a lot of classy polish and its structure is a total mess. But of course! What does that matter when Alex Karras is knocking a horse cold with a right sock to the jaw?”

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5 Things We Know About Stranger Things Season 2
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Stranger Things seemed to come out of nowhere to become one of television's standout new series in 2016. Netflix's sometimes scary, sometimes funny, and always exciting homage to '80s pop culture was a binge-worthy phenomenon when it debuted in July 2016. Of course, the streaming giant wasn't going to wait long to bring more Stranger Things to audiences, and a second season was announced a little over a month after its debut—and Netflix just announced that we'll be getting it a few days earlier than expected. Here are five key things we know about the show's sophomore season, which kicks off on October 27.

1. WE'LL BE GETTING EVEN MORE EPISODES.

The first season of Stranger Things consisted of eight hour-long episodes, which proved to be a solid length for the story Matt and Ross Duffer wanted to tell. While season two won't increase in length dramatically, we will be getting at least one extra hour when the show returns in 2017 with nine episodes. Not much is known about any of these episodes, but we do know the titles:

"Madmax"
"The Boy Who Came Back To Life"
"The Pumpkin Patch"
"The Palace"
"The Storm"
"The Pollywog"
"The Secret Cabin"
"The Brain"
"The Lost Brother"

There's a lot of speculation about what each title means and, as usual with Stranger Things, there's probably a reason for each one.

2. THE KIDS ARE RETURNING (INCLUDING ELEVEN).

Stranger Things fans should gear up for plenty of new developments in season two, but that doesn't mean your favorite characters aren't returning. A November 4 photo sent out by the show's Twitter account revealed most of the kids from the first season will be back in 2017, including the enigmatic Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown (the #elevenisback hashtag used by series regular Finn Wolfhard should really drive the point home):

3. THE SHOW'S 1984 SETTING WILL LEAD TO A DARKER TONE.

A year will have passed between the first and second seasons of the show, allowing the Duffer brothers to catch up with a familiar cast of characters that has matured since we last saw them. With the story taking place in 1984, the brothers are looking at the pop culture zeitgeist at the time for inspiration—most notably the darker tone of blockbusters like Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

"I actually really love Temple of Doom, I love that it gets a little darker and weirder from Raiders, I like that it feels very different than Raiders did," Matt Duffer told IGN. "Even though it was probably slammed at the time—obviously now people look back on it fondly, but it messed up a lot of kids, and I love that about that film—that it really traumatized some children. Not saying that we want to traumatize children, just that we want to get a little darker and weirder."

4. IT'S NOT SO MUCH A CONTINUATION AS IT IS A SEQUEL.

When you watch something like The Americans season two, it's almost impossible to catch on unless you've seen the previous episodes. Stranger Things season two will differ from the modern TV approach by being more of a sequel than a continuation of the first year. That means a more self-contained plot that doesn't leave viewers hanging at the end of nine episodes.

"There are lingering questions, but the idea with Season 2 is there's a new tension and the goal is can the characters resolve that tension by the end," Ross Duffer told IGN. "So it's going to be its own sort of complete little movie, very much in the way that Season 1 is."

Don't worry about the two seasons of Stranger Things being too similar or too different from the original, though, because when speaking with Entertainment Weekly about the influences on the show, Matt Duffer said, "I guess a lot of this is James Cameron. But he’s brilliant. And I think one of the reasons his sequels are as successful as they are is he makes them feel very different without losing what we loved about the original. So I think we kinda looked to him and what he does and tried to capture a little bit of the magic of his work.”

5. THE PREMIERE WILL TRAVEL OUTSIDE OF HAWKINS.

Everything about the new Stranger Things episodes will be kept secret until they finally debut later this year, but we do know one thing about the premiere: It won't take place entirely in the familiar town of Hawkins, Indiana. “We will venture a little bit outside of Hawkins,” Matt Duffer told Entertainment Weekly. “I will say the opening scene [of the premiere] does not take place in Hawkins.”

So, should we take "a little bit outside" as literally as it sounds? You certainly can, but in that same interview, the brothers also said they're both eager to explore the Upside Down, the alternate dimension from the first season. Whether the season kicks off just a few miles away, or a few worlds away, you'll get your answer when Stranger Things's second season debuts next month.

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Everything That’s Leaving Netflix in October
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NBC - © 2012 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Netflix subscribers are already counting down the days until the premiere of the new season of Stranger Things. But, as always, in order to make room for the near-90 new titles making their way to the streaming site, some of your favorite titles—including all of 30 Rock, The Wonder Years, and Malcolm in the Middle—must go. Here’s everything that’s leaving Netflix in October ... binge ‘em while you can!

October 1

30 Rock (Seasons 1-7)

A Love in Times of Selfies

Across the Universe

Barton Fink

Bella

Big Daddy

Carousel

Cradle 2 the Grave

Crafting a Nation

Curious George: A Halloween Boo Fest

Daddy’s Little Girls

Dark Was the Night

David Attenborough’s Rise of the Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates (Season 1)

Day of the Kamikaze

Death Beach

Dowry Law

Dr. Dolittle: Tail to the Chief

Friday Night Lights (Seasons 1-5)

Happy Feet

Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison

Hellboy

Kagemusha

Laura

Love Actually

Malcolm in the Middle (Seasons 1-7)

Max Dugan Returns

Millennium 

Million Dollar Baby

Mortal Combat

Mr. 3000

Mulholland Dr.

My Father the Hero

My Name Is Earl (Seasons 1-4)

One Tree Hill (Seasons 1-9)

Patton

Picture This

Prison Break (Seasons 1-4)

The Bernie Mac Show (Seasons 1-5)

The Shining

The Wonder Years (Seasons 1-6)

Titanic

October 19

The Cleveland Show (Seasons 1-4)

October 21

Bones (Seasons 5-11)

October 27

Lie to Me (Seasons 2-3)

Louie (Seasons 1-5)

Hot Transylvania 2

October 29

Family Guy (Seasons 9-14)

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