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The Briscoe Western Art Museum recently announced their 2015 Film Series: The Comedic West. As a genre, Western films generally tend to be rather serious in nature. There are some films, however, that poke fun at both themselves and the genre as a whole. The picks for this series are probably four of the best Western comedies of the last 30 years: Blazing Saddles, City Slickers, Three Amigos and Rango.
The series kicks off this Tuesday, May 19, coinciding with International Museum Day, during which most local museums are offering free admission. The Briscoe, located at 210 W. Market St., will also have extended hours for the day, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
This summer, the Briscoe has put together a family film series worth watching – that is, depending on the family. Please note that the first film, “Blazing Saddles,” is rated R. All films will be shown in the Jack Guenther Pavilion, located next to the museum itself. Suggested donation for each film is $5. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., movies start at 6:30 p.m.
In order to make the film screenings even more enticing, the Briscoe is offering free Ranger Creek beer, refreshments, and popcorn. There will also be food trucks on site. Since the films are shown during Downtown Tuesdays, there is free parking in downtown garages and at parking meters. Parking is not free at the private Riverbend Garage, directly across the street from the Briscoe. For two-wheeled guests, there are bicycle racks located in front of the museum.
Tuesday May 19: “Blazing Saddles” (1974), Rated R
Arguably the best film to come out of the zany mind of Mel Brooks (some might say “The Producers” was his magnum opus), “Blazing Saddles” is difficult to explain. There is a plot – a black man finds himself sheriff of an Old West town – but that is merely a vehicle for all sorts of madness, especially the final scenes where the “fourth wall” breaks down – no spoilers here.
In the midst of all the action, there are memorable scenes: an epic farting contest, Jewish Indians sparing the life of an African American family, and any scene with the legendary Madeline Kahn. If you’ve never seen “Blazing Saddles,” what can I say? You have managed to miss an all-time classic.
Tuesday, June 16: “City Slickers” (1991), Rated PG-13
With an all-star cast featuring Billy Crystal and Jack Palance, combined with a solid script, “City Slickers” has stood the test of time to become a classic in its own right.
The plot is fairly straightforward. A middle-aged city dweller (Crystal) finds himself in a mid-life crisis, so he heads west with his co-workers for a two-week “vacation” at a cattle ranch. There, he meets a crusty old man (Palance) who teaches him important life lessons. The key to this film is the chemistry between the stars and its many comedic moments.
Tuesday, July 21: “Three Amigos” (1986), Rated PG
What do a group of Mexican villagers do when they find themselves besieged by banditos? Call in the “Three Amigos,” of course. The only problem with this idea is that the three gringos are actually silver-screen era Hollywood actors, and not actual gunslingers.
With a cast featuring Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, and Martin Short, it’s obvious that madness will be the order of the day. Will the good guys prevail over the banditos? This film is considered by some film buffs to be an homage to the Bob Hope/Bing Crosby “On the Road” flicks.
Tuesday, August 18: “Rango” (2011): Rated PG
The most recent movie in this series, “Rango” is a CGI-animated film featuring a hapless pet chameleon (voiced by Johnny Depp) who inadvertently finds himself facing off against a plethora of bad guys in the Old West town of Dirt (sound familiar?).
Thanks to its state-of-the-art animation and bizarre characters, Rango is a visual roller coaster featuring sharp dialogue and riveting scenes. A delight for all ages.
*Featured/top image: The Briscoe Western Art Museum. Photo by Page Graham.