October 6, 2018

"Althouse: If you say 'Harumph' you must Link!"

Says Madison Man, in the comments to a post where I said "Harrumph!" He links to this:



Fantastic! My post has an embedded clip from "Putney Swope," because it has a line — "How many syllables, Mario?" — that I have held in my memory for half a century. But there's no chance that I'd have dragged up "Harrumph," because — can you believe it? — I have never seen "Blazing Saddles."

Is it "harrumph" or "harumph"? Double letters are the peskiest spelling problem. The OED says the double-r is correct. It's defined as "A guttural sound made by clearing the throat. Also fig. So as v., to make this sound; to speak in a rasping or guttural voice; to make a comment implying disapproval." One example is from The New Yorker in 1961, a cartoon, I'm guessing: "My goodness, Henry, you're much too young to be going har-rumph, har-rumph all the time!"

I put "Blazing Saddles" on my list of movies that came out during the period of my life when I pretty much went out and saw everything that was supposed to be excellent but that I never did see — not at the time and not in later years, when it became easy to see whatever I wanted on videotape or DVD. Also on my list: "Apocalypse Now" and "The Last Picture Show." I think of those 2 because they are DVDs that I bought as soon as they came out because I assumed surely I'd watch them and that my previous failure to watch them was nothing but a chance omission. They've sat on my shelf for way more than a decade.

And I still don't feel like watching "Blazing Saddles." Harrumph!!

68 comments:

Known Unknown said...

You should definitely watch Blazing Saddles.

The Crack Emcee said...

"I still don't feel like watching "Blazing Saddles." Harrumph!!"

I don't get it, but your loss.

Michael K said...

Neither "Blazing Saddles" nor "Animal House" could be made today. I just hope there are copies in safe places so that, after the insanity subsides, they will be available for our grandchildren to see.

LilyBart said...

How weird, we were just watching this in netflix last night

FWBuff said...

“I still don’t feel like watching ‘Blazing Saddles’. Harrumph!!”

And miss the bean and fart scene around the campfire?!

LYNNDH said...

The humor would not suit you. Your loss.

Fernandistein said...

Blazing Frankenstein was better, almost as good as Animal Saddles.

Jupiter said...

I'm not all that impressed with Blazing Saddles myself, but you definitely should watch Apocalypse Now. At least until Brando shows up, it goes downhill fast once that obese asshole starts bloviating.

EDH said...

It's defined as "A guttural sound made by clearing the throat.

Funny, I've noticed the term "throat-clearing" used in the last few of weeks, especially in the connection with the Kavanaugh confirmation.

Not just in the literal sense, but to describe an opening salvo testing the waters of a new argument, approach or strategy taken by the representative of one side in preparation for the "main event".

Hey Skipper said...

Is it "harrumph" or "harumph"? Double letters are the peskiest spelling problem. The OED says the double-r is correct.

Not as pesky as you might think.

Granted that rules in English are remarkably porous, but this one holds at least as often as most: if the following syllable is closed -- that is, preceded by two consonants -- then the vowel preceding the two consonants is pronounced in its short version.

So, if you say ha-rumph, then the correct spelling is harrumph.

If you say hey-rumph, which no one does, then harumph is the answer.

stever said...

Blazing Saddles was ok back then because it was a current event.

Lucien said...

If you read Michael Herr’s “Dispatches” you can probably skip Apocalypse Now.

Hey Skipper said...

Oh, and Blazing Saddles is one of the most brilliant comedies ever. And couldn't be made now. Just as Animal House and Monty Pythons "Meaning of Life" (and almost everything else MP have done) would be impossible in our current hot house climate.

mockturtle said...

Enjoy the great films while you can as they will all be censored or banned. Buy the DVDs. Blazing Saddles was brilliantly scripted and Harvey Korman perfect as 'Hedley Lamarr' and of course the incomparable Madeline Kahn. What a crew!

And yes, I miss Monty Python, too.

Etienne said...

Off topic: Apocalypse Now was a story about "going up-river" in the Congo, but placed in the context of Vietnam.

While the result was interesting entertainment, the real beauty of the film was in the photography and the brand new 5.1 audio system.

I saw it in its 70 mm form, and with the audio it was the most beautiful photography and sound I had ever seen or heard.

I've seen it on smaller screens, but it doesn't have the same effect. In fact, the movie on that is no better than a Gunsmoke episode.

Thank you Francis Coppola, and especially Vittorio Storaro.

Vittorio also filmed Last Tango in Paris, and used the correct lens when Brando had Maria Schneider's finger stuck up his ass trying to find his prostate.

mockturtle said...

While the result was interesting entertainment, the real beauty of the film was in the photography and the brand new 5.1 audio system.

I saw it in its 70 mm form, and with the audio it was the most beautiful photography and sound I had ever seen or heard.


Agree 100% with Etienne! If you're looking for a realistic film about 'Nam, this isn't it. But if you're looking for an amazing sensory experience with memorable--even classic--scenes, Apocalypse Now will provide it.

buwaya said...

Friends of mine were extras on "Apocalypse Now".
Audience in USO show.

Etienne said...

buwaya said...Friends of mine were extras on "Apocalypse Now"

Were they Filipino?

buwaya said...

Spanish-Filipino-American, or some mix. One was German, one was British.

Kevin said...

I imagine Last Picture Show as being a film you would appreciate and even love. That and What’s Up Doc and Paper Moon are among my very favorites. Plus Last Picture Show has a very politically relevant scene of a man grabbing a young woman right in the pussy, and it being viewed by the young woman very positively indeed. I thought it strange that when the quote came out no one seemed to mention Last Picture Show, but now that I know you’ve never seen it, that at least explains your reaction.

Lawrence Person said...

The sheriff welcoming scene in Blazing Saddles is one of the funniest movie scenes in all history, right up there with Stonehenge from This Is Spinal Tap, the killer rabbit in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and the opera house scene in A Night at the Opera.

buwaya said...

Casting call went out to everyone in Manila and Baguio high schools and colleges, young men who could pass for white. I was otherwise occupied.

traditionalguy said...

Talk about different films, you could not get two more different ones than Apocalypse Now and Blazing Saddles. One laughs at American culture and the other one is in awe of it.

Ann Althouse said...

"And miss the bean and fart scene around the campfire?!"

Do you know how many people have told me about that one scene? It would probably have been funny to me if I encountered it in the movie without knowing it was the one thing that everyone had already found very funny. But since it was spoiled, I felt nudged. You gotta see that. No, I don't.

It's like going to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa. Gotta to the Louvre and see the Mona Lisa.

If I do go to the Louvre, the last thing I want to see is the Mona Lisa.

Yeah, and did you know that's why the Mona Lisa is smiling? She's farting.

Temujin said...

Never saw "Blazing Saddles"? Seriously? It's a classic. Not only could it not be made today, you can't even show it on campuses or most cable networks today. (though HBO does give us a series about someone who likes to cut herself- such is life at HBO).

Ever see the original "The Producers"?

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that you've never seen "Kentucky Fried Movie" either. Not nearly the same level as "Blazing Saddles". It's actually a poorly made movie, but it was the forerunner to "Airplane!", which I'm sure you sat through. And it did coin the unforgettable phrase, "NOT DETROIT!"

If you're telling me that you were a fan of Joan Baez, but could not give Mel Brooks two hours...well then...we probably would not have gotten along had we met- even in the 70s when everybody got along. Or did we?....There were a few Joan Baez fans out there, though I never knew any personally. Until I married one.

Ganderson said...

Richard Pryor was a big contributor to Blazing Saddles.

AlbertAnonymous said...

Several years ago I got a copy of Blazing Saddles on DVD as a gift. I hadn't seen it uncut for years and years (only the eviscerated TV version). Never laughed harder! You'd never get this movie made today. Never. Classic!

Ann Althouse said...

"The humor would not suit you. Your loss."

Somehow I'll deal with it.

Mel Brooks has what feels to me like an old-fashioned, stagey comic style. It's got a lot of yelling in your face. I don't like being elbowed into laughing. I like humor that reaches the mind.

I found fart jokes extremely funny when I was in junior high school, when we were making up our own jokes. But as an adult, I don't need an old man telling me that farts are funny.

I do think it was initially a great humorous insight: We always hear about cowboys eating beans and we always think of beans as causing farting, but we never see the cowboys in movies farting from the beans? The funniness is at the point of seeing the combination of 2 things but once you see the combination, there's nothing left but the execution. Much less humor potential, and it's even distracting, I would think. I'd feel like I'm watching the whole thing thinking is this the scene where they'll fart? Seems boring.

AlbertAnonymous said...

Yes, the Boof jokes are all the rage again thanks to current events.

Howard said...

Don't watch Apocalypse Now Redux first. Shoulda stayed on cutting room floor. It's really Heart of Darkness using Vietnam as a backdrop.

Ann Althouse said...

"Ever see the original "The Producers"?"

Yes, love it.

I've also seen "Young Frankenstein" and "High Anxiety" and even (with my sons) "Spaceballs."

Yancey Ward said...

My parents took me and my older sister to see Blazing Saddles when I was 8 years old. I was just old enough to appreciate the movie. I have seen it several times over the years, and it is just brilliant, and the commenters above are right- you couldn't make that movie today without protesters burning the first showing venues to the ground.

Of the other movies, I would most recommend The Last Picture Show- a really great film that I think Althouse would definitely like.

As for Apocalypse Now, my feelings are more mixed. I first saw the film in 1984 on the big screen, but it was the original version that was re-released. I later saw the film as Coppola intended it, but on television. The truth is I found both versions too bloated. There is great stuff there- the cinematography and sound are stunning in a theater, though that feeling muted in me today because of the developments, good and bad, in the theater experience of today's films. It is definitely, I think, a must see film, but I would give it a far lower priority than lots of other films.

Ann Althouse said...

"If you're telling me that you were a fan of Joan Baez, but could not give Mel Brooks two hours..."

A fan of Joan Baez? She is kind of the opposite of Mel Brooks. For her, I'd say, too serious. No humor at all. Annoyingly serioso.

I've listened to her a bit, but I'm no more a "fan" of hers than I am a fan of The Incredible String Band. Okay, in a moderate dose at the right time.

I'd say that about Mel Brooks too. And I have given him hours. I just never felt like watching "Blazing Saddles," okay??

Gahrie said...

And I still don't feel like watching "Blazing Saddles." Harrumph!!

I consider it one of the Great Movies. I'm actually kind of shocked you haven't seen it. The writing, casting, acting, directing and production are simply amazing.

To be fair however, you might not enjoy the movie as much. It skewers the Left and you might find some of the comedy distasteful.

Etienne said...

The reason Mona Lisa is not smiling, is that she thinks it would be vain. Also, she is pissed that Leonardo cut off her extraordinary legs.

Ron said...

Meade! Get Lilly von Schtupp here off her butt and watch Blazing Saddles.....and 'live blog' watching it! "Where the white women at?"

Etienne said...

I never knew how to pronounce the n-word until I saw Blazing Saddles...

Jupiter said...

Gahrie said...

"... you might find some of the comedy distasteful."

The rape jokes, for example.

Larry Ozone said...

You don't have to see all of "Apocalypse Now" - just have someone cue up the helicopter attack for you.

Jay Elink said...


Oh, and Blazing Saddles is one of the most brilliant comedies ever. And couldn't be made now.
**********

Agreed. One of my favorite parts was when the black sheriff, having been run out of town on some trumped-up charge, returns on horseback.

A yokel runs up to him and says, "But sheriff! They said you was HUNG!"

The sheriff grins down from the saddle and replies, "And they was RIGHT, baby!"

Pure gold.

Bay Area Guy said...

I'd like offer Ms. Althouse this laurel - and hearty handshake.

rcocean said...

"Yeah, and did you know that's why the Mona Lisa is smiling? She's farting."

Ha. I thought "the Blazing Saddle" farting scene was "meh". Fart and poop jokes killed me when I was 12. But since then? Nope.

Courtier: Sire, the Peasants are revolting.
Louis XIV: You said it! They stink on ice.

The Inquisition production number and Springtime for Hitler are two of Brooks' highlights. Had he been born 20 years earlier, he probably could've written more serious Broadway/Hollywood musicals - as opposed to satires.

rcocean said...

IRC, the original plan was to get someone like John Wayne to play the Gunfighter part, and they eventually cast Gig Young but he committed suicide.

So they cast Gene Wilder instead.

mockturtle said...

Not all of Blazing Saddles is slapstick. What I remember most are the clever lines.

And in Apocalypse Now the helicopters blasting Wagner's Die Walk├╝re while strafing a village. And after seeing the film, in the theater, the sound of helicopters gave me an eerie feeling for quite a long time. Again, it's not the plot that's important. It's more an orgy of cinematographic and audio brilliance.

Gahrie said...

The rape jokes, for example.

You mean like:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bigZ1fmwD-Q

Charlie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Big Mike said...

First of all, the OED is correct. It’s harrumph with a double ‘R’ because the ‘R’ has to be rolled like you’re getting ready to cough up phlegm.

Second, I never really enjoyed the alleged humor of Mel Brooks. “Young Frankenstein” had its good points but mostly he struck me as a Catskills comic who suddenly managed to get bad movies made from his Catskills schtick.

BADuBois said...

"Work, work, work, work.."

Big Mike said...

OTOH, Brooks managed to get a classy woman like Anne Bancroft to marry him and stay married for 40 years. There must have good in the man somewhere.

Rory said...

Viewing Apocalypse Now is about as entertaining as getting an arrow through your neck, then finding a gas bill attached to it.

JAORE said...

Every time a lefty hears "Senator Collins", horses whinny.

PB said...

Watch it ann.

Jay Elink said...

Don't watch Apocalypse Now Redux first.
******************

Is that the version where that hot French woman, recently widowed, hops into Martin Sheen's bed?

I thought that scene had LOTS of....artistic...merit.

FWBuff said...

Professor, since you’ve seen those other Mel Brooks movies, you can already imagine what “Blazing Saddles” is like. However, you should see “The Last Picture Show”, if for no other reason than to marvel at Cloris Leachman’s acting range as the mousy, repressed coach’s wife in contrast to her hilariously played dominatrix roles in “Young Frankenstein” and “High Anxiety”.

Drago said...

"IRC, the original plan was to get someone like John Wayne to play the Gunfighter part, and they eventually cast Gig Young but he committed suicide.
So they cast Gene Wilder instead."

According to Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder, before accepting the part in Blazing Saddles, got a commitment from Mel Brooks to participate in a Gene Wilder project, called.....Young Frankenstein.

And the rest is history as they say.

Quaestor said...

And I still don't feel like watching "Blazing Saddles."

Don't rush it. Blazing Saddles is more than a bit uneven. There are some outstanding moments, I will admit, but some of Brooke's jokes are just... painful.

Cleavon Little is ok, but he's just doing an updated Mantan Morton schtick (at the behest of Mel Brookes, I'm certain) The funny stuff is just funny-because-the-guy-is-black stuff, which I consider subtly racist. Well-crafted comedy is color-blind — it doesn't matter who does it or what subculture he belongs to, if it don't have that zing then it don't mean a thing. Consider Eddie Anderson doing the Rochester character opposite Jack Benny doing his character... now that's comedy just as Titus Maccius Plautus mastered it. It's not about race, it's about the wise versus the foolish.

Gene Wilder is totally wasted (in more than the figurative sense of the term, as I have since learned). As a hilariously neurotic accountant, he was brilliant. As a hilariously egotistical mad scientist, he was brilliant. As a hilariously dipsomaniacal gunslinger, he sucked. Donkeys.

Madeline Kahn is wasted. She never masters the Marlene Dietrich thing at all. It's as if Brookes cast her as the "rancher's daughter" stock character and then changed his mind of the morning of the "let's shoot it for real" take with film in the camera and everything.

Trust me. The only people who come out of Blazing Saddles with their integrity intact are Harvey Korman and Slim Pickens.

If you haven't seen High Anxiety, rent that one. That one is worth it.

BJM said...

Blazing Saddles was of its time, there are a few clever lines/skits that still resonate, but it's mostly unwatchable.

JAORE said...
Every time a lefty hears "Senator Collins", horses whinny.

Young Frankenstein is classically funny. Cloris Leachman was fearless.

Leachman's Nurse Diesel in High Anxiety always makes me laugh although the film itself is not one of Brooks better efforts.

Neither of these films could be made today, too many tribal oxen gored, which is a pity.

CWJ said...

BJM,

"Blazing Saddles was of its time, there are a few clever lines/skits that still resonate, but it's mostly unwatchable." Oh please, save it for sherry hour.

CWJ said...

mockturtle,

"...the incomparable Madeline Kahn."

"...coming and going and going and coming, and always too soon."

And don't forget Slim Pickins.

"Screw you! I work for Mel Brooks!"

CWJ said...

"Work, work, work, work.."

"Hello boys, I missed you."

CWJ said...

"It's more an orgy of cinematographic and audio brilliance."

Yep, right from the opening shot that superimposes the helicopter blades and their sound over the ceiling fan in Captain Willard's hotel room.


"Saigon. Shit! I'm still in Saigon."

MadisonMan said...

I mostly agree with Quaestor. Harvey Korman and Slim Pickens are great in Blazing Saddles. There are some other good scenes -- when the Sheriff arrives in town, for example. And plenty of quotable lines. It's fun to re-watch, with FF at times.

Young Frankenstein is something I love for the first 30, 40 or so minutes. Then it grows tired.

I didn't like High Anxiety, or Silent Movie. I think by then I'd grown tired of Marty Feldman, who does the same thing in the Mel Brooks movies that he's in. At least in Young Frankenstein, I hadn't seen it a million times yet.

DavidD said...

I keep waiting for the SJW brigade to force Disney to get rid of Splash Mountain.

It’s based on the story within the story that was Song of the South.

Michael said...

Hey! The way things are going, Blazing Saddles may soon be officially funny again.

mockturtle said...

Damn, I think I'll rent Apocalypse Now. Haven't watched it in probably 30 years.

Ken B said...

Why watch Blazing Saddles when you can laugh at Kavanaugh's daughter?

mikee said...

Apocalypse Now, when I saw it in the theater upon first release, ended with the village being bombed as the credits rolled. That changed in VHS release. Then it changed again and again until there was suddenly a dinner at a French plantation house in the middle of the trip upriver that wasn't there before.

So don't bother, Althouse, I think you, like the young man with the grenade gun, know who is in charge here.

R.A. Crankbait said...

Blazing Saddles appeared in that golden moment when it appeared we could blunt racism by mocking it with humor (the Chevy Chase-Richard Pryor "Dead Honky" skit from SNL around the same time did the same). These showed just how ridiculous racist stereotypes and prejudice were - so ridiculous as to be laughable. "All In the Family" had similar, but meaner tone, back in the day. Now, it's much too "serious" a topic; so serious that it prevents serious discussion. I fear this has become intractable as a result.