Blazing Saddles is quite possibly this writer’s favourite film. That revelation is usually met with sneery laughter. But not a toss is given here. More of the Mel Brooks classic is relatable to everyday life than it ever gets credit for.
For those of you that might not have seen it (do yourselves a favour) it centres on the town of Rockridge, which, for generations, has been dominated by various branches of the Johnson family.
Until, that is, anarchy breaks out. At which point the town’s folk decide it’s time to get a new Sheriff. When the new head man arrived in town, he most certainly was a head turner. You see, Bart was a black gentleman at a time when the thought of a guy such as himself holding such a position of authority certainly would have been most unusual, to put it mildly.
Eventually though, Bart not only won the locals over but also managed to reform the town drunk as the two teamed up to police the town. Which was just as well because – in a scenario which sounds very familiar today – a powerful local official – Hedley Le Mar – used his ‘pull’ to frame local planning matters to the benefit of his cronies.
That is until Bart and the Waco Kid circled the wagons with the residents and The Kid ends up usurping Le Mar and restoring order in the town before trotting off into the sunset.
All of the above must seem a curious way to lead in to ruminating on Tuesday night’s World Cup semi final between Argentina and Croatia, but there’s method to my madness.
For Hedley Le Mar, see Luka Modric, while Lionel Messi has evoked memories of Gene Wilder’s character throughout the current World Cup in Qatar – raging against the dying of the light. Except Messi has been doing it with bells on. On another level, strip away the fact that Cristiano Ronaldo has destroyed his own legacy with petulant attention seeking and there still surely can no longer be a debate as to who is the better footballer of the two. After all, the Argentine has, with respect, almost singlehandedly carried his nation to the showpiece of the entire event.
Mention of Jimmy Magee and Diego Maradona in the same sentence can only conjure up two other Different Class! Go back to the World Cup of 1986 in Mexico. And the greatest goal the one seeing eye here has ever been cast on here in a soccer match. A strike which – in my opinion at least – is often ridiculously overlooked and undervalued owing to the brouhaha pertaining to his other ‘Hand Of God’ score.
Now study Messi’s mesmeric manipulation of the ball as he left the Croatian defence spinning like a collection of tops en route to Los Pumas third strike and tell me it doesn’t echo of the Different Class moment. I doubt you’ll be able to.
In the interest of fairness here, it must be acknowledged that the 3-0 end result was more than slightly harsh on the vanquished forces who have made careers out of punching above their weight on the international stage. None more so than their own midfield magician Mr Modric.
Presuming the latter will now depart the international scene, if sticking to the Blazing Saddles narrative, all that remains is for the Waco Kid to be whisked away in a blaze of glory. Only next Sunday will tell whether the classic career gets the fairytale ending.