High Anxiety
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  • Classic Mel Brooks - I loved it.
    What can I say? It's Mel Brooks. And he is spoofing some great Alfred Hitchcock movies like "The Birds," "Pschyco" and "Vertigo." The humor is sometimes suttle and sometimes slap stick, but always out loud laughable. Some of the jokes may be lost on the under 30 crowd but if you enjoy Alfred Hitchcock, you'll enjoy this spoof....more info
    This is my favorite Mel Brooks' film. A special treat is having that wonderful scene with Anne Bancroft, Mel's better half. A question - whatever happened to Charlie Callas?...more info
  • Fitfully Funny Hitchcock Homage Suffers from a Miscast Brooks and a General Gag Overload
    Just three years after his twin peaks of "Blazing Saddles" and "Young Frankenstein" (probably his comic apex), Mel Brooks made this fitfully funny send-up of Hitchcock's suspense classics. The most detrimental change with this 1977 comedy is that he lost the wonderfully manic Gene Wilder as his leading man and chose to make himself the star. Brooks is unfortunately miscast as Dr. Richard Thorndyke lacking the enigmatic leading-man charisma so central to most of Hitchcock's classics. To some degree, he knows his limitations since he inserts several irrelevant bits of business that have little to do with the character, like his sudden piano-bar crooning of the title tune or his Catskills-level disguise as the old Jewish man at the airport. However, in catering to his own persona, he compromises what there is of a suspenseful element to the movie.

    The plot centers on Thorndyke as he becomes the new Chief of Staff at The Psycho-Neurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous. Suffering from an actual condition called "high anxiety", he cannot stand heights but perseveres in trying to run the medical facility despite the connivances of the scarifying Nurse Diesel and the weak, bondage-loving Dr. Montague. Thorndyke is then shuttled off to a medical convention at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco - the ideal setting to challenge his acrophobia - where he meets a mysterious blonde named Victoria and gets framed for murder. It all works toward a climax that plays like a riff on "Vertigo".

    Brooks produces some genuine laughs along the way - the camera smashing through glass doors in zooming upon a dinner scene, the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra providing atmospheric thrill music on a passing bus, and basically anything related to the wonderful Madeline Kahn as Victoria. Looking resplendent in a blonde wig, she comes awfully late into the film but makes her moments count, especially her stimulated reaction to what she thinks is an obscene phone call. Alas, there are a lot of bits that aren't that funny - comedian Charlie Callas as an inmate who thinks he is a cocker spaniel, the self-inflicted censorship after Thorndyke's speech and the Jewish couple charade at the airport.

    The film also takes quite a while to establish itself and only increases momentum when the action moves to San Francisco. Future director Barry Levinson, one of the movie's four writers, has a hilarious bit as a high-strung bellboy resistant to getting Thorndyke a newspaper. This leads to a funny take-off of the "Psycho" shower scene, though I could have done without seeing Brooks in the buff. There is another funny take-off on the schoolyard scene from "The Birds" though it honestly feels wedged in for no narrative purpose. There are also references to non-Hitchcock films like "Call Northside 777" (the photo enlargement plot turn) and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest".

    Cloris Leachman deserves a medal for looking so horrendous as Nurse Diesel, though she plays the role quite similarly to her Frau Blucher in "Young Frankenstein". Harvey Korman has always been more a sketch comic and proves that again as Montague, as do Howard Morris as kindly Professor Lilloman (Little-Old-Man) and Ron Carey as double-speak sidekick Brophy. John Morris's music score is a fitting tribute to Hitchcock, though Paul Lohmann's cinematography seems particularly washed out in the print transfer on the DVD. There are no extras other than the original trailers for four other Brooks films....more info
  • My favorite comedy movie of all time
    This homage to Alfred Hitchcock is a work of genius. The shower scene in this movie remains one of the best parodies ever. Madeline Kahn's role is one of her best and Cloris Leachman looks as if she enjoyed playing her character. The casting in this movie is inspired. ...more info
    Mel Brooks movies aren't for everyone but for those who loves his type of humor, you'll love it....more info
  • One of Mel's best
    If you like Young Frankenstein, Spaceballs, & Blazing Saddles, you'll like High Anxiety. All are very different of course, but especially anyone who has ever been involved in psychiatric treatment ... receiving and/or giving ... will find this incredibly funny....more info
  • What's Your Sign? - It's Unlisted
    With his trio of the Producers, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein garnering so much praise and attention, this little movie often gets lost in the comotion. A shame, really, because if Brooks had only made this one film, he still would be looked upon as a comic genius. Spoofing Hitchcock and making evey gag work is no small task and Mel does not falter. His "usual suspects" includes Madeline Kahn ("Jeans, I bet they're tight")and Cloris Leachman ("Braces? You may kill Thorndike") - as funny here as in Young Frankenstein. Brooks does it all as writer, director and star. His New York accent playing perfectly in the airport scene - "Celery, you have to bring on the plane? No sir! I don't like the bloody mary they make on the plane with the snappy and the peppy!" He even belts out the title tune in the perfect send up of a lounge singer. Yes, some would like to wash Mel's mind out with soap, but I find him to be one of the funniest men alive and this is one of his finest films....more info
  • Thank god! It's finally on DVD!!
    I wrote another review of this film several years ago (February 8, 2001), wishing then that High Anxiety would be released on DVD. Now, finally, it has arrived (or at least will on 9/5). I know that most Brooks fans prefer The Producers, Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles or even History of the World Part I. But in High Anxiety, Brooks satirizes my favorite director, Alfred Hitchcock, to a tee. Roger Ebert, among others, says that this is a misfire. Don't listen to them! When High Anxiety premiered, Alfred Hitchcock himself sent Brooks a bottle of expensive champagne, saying he loved the film and was honored by it. To me, that's the acid test -- anyone who doesn't like High Anxiety just doesn't get it.

    (Please see my review of High Anxiety under the VHS listing)...more info
    For anyone who has ever seen HIGH ANXIETY, the review title instantly brings to mind one of the most brilliantly funny scenes in this or any Mel Brooks comedy. I refer, of course, to Brooks' masterfull spoof of the famous "shower scene" from Hitchcock's PSYCHO. For those who have not experienced HIGH ANXIETY, if you purchase this movie to witness that sequence, you will not regret it.
    HIGH ANXIETY features Mel Brooks and his familiar cast of comedy allstars in an intelligently written, hilarious spoof of the Alfred Hitchcock mysteries. From PSYCHO, to THE BIRDS, NORTH BY NORTH WEST and VERTIGO, few Hitchcock classics are spared from Brooks' reworking. It's all spun together into a nice little murder plot.
    HIGH ANXIETY is a must for any fan of Mel Brooks, or of intelligent comedy that makes you think. I am somewhat at a loss to understand why one of Brooks' best films is not available in the DVD format though. But, this VHS version is very affordable and has good picture and sound (for a VHS)....more info
  • Better then anything out today
    High Anxiety plays off like a horror/comedy and keeps you hooked from the "dramatic airport" opener to the final showdown in the tower high above the Pacific Ocean. Most will say it's just a comedy but I will say it's a horror movie as well and I'll tell you why.

    Mel Brooks plays Dr. Thorndyke, a psychiatrist sent to work for an asylum out in California. He arrives just after the last guy died under mysterious circumstances and is immediately greeted by his new coworkers and associates including the downright evil and manipulative Nurse Diesel and the submissve but devious Dr. Monatigue. The suspense in this film starts out right away and literally doesn't let up.

    After a nice dinner when Nurse Diesel shows how controling she is the new coworkers propose a toast to Dr. Thorndyke. All participate in this toast except Nurse Diesel and the way the scene was done with the music, the costumes and the atmosphere will literally send chills down your spine.

    This is a horror movie because the ideas that it explores are terrifying. Thorndyke finds out that Diesel and Montagiue are keeping people at the asylum against their will and bilking their families for money. Anyone in the inner circle who dares threaten the security and the secrecy of the evil scheming of Nurse Diesel is offed and disposed of. This easily could be remade into a straight horror film with concepts like the above mentioned ones. The concept alone is chilling even though Nurse Diesel is a laugh riot with her costume, mannerisms and the lines she uses. To me this movie showcases Cloris Leachman as a class act actress.

    All in all "High Anxiety" is way more fun and classy then any comedy out today. It's a drama/horror/comedy that is nonstop fun from start to finish and it's not filled exclusively with tip offs to diversity and nonstop sex jokes like so many 21st century films. This is easily in my personal top 5 movie lists of all time. I think anyone with an open mind about what comedy is supposed to be about ought to give this one a spin. If you're like me you'll never be able to get enough of the evil scheming of Nurse Diesel. Who doesn't like the bellhop with the newspaper scene?...more info
  • Funny and even charming, but in a DVD transfer that should have been much better
    "Those who are tardy do not get fruit cup!" Trying to explain why you like one Mel Brooks film and have no particular feeling for another is like trying to explain why one guy slipping on a banana peel is funny and another guy doing the same is a medical emergency. All I know is that I think that line, especially as stated by Nurse Diesel, is uproarious and that High Anxiety is one of my favorite Mel Brooks films. Some say it's a take-off on Hitchcock, or even a satire. Far from it, in my view. I think it's an affectionate, good-natured hug from Brooks for a director he respects. So, on one level, we can sit back and enjoy the Hitchcockian references, some of which are very clever. On another level, we still can enjoy the famous Brooksian low comedy that sends one gag after another almost as fast as we can blink. When the two come together...when the birds splatter a fleeing Dr. Thorndyke, for instance...it's a match made in heaven. Besides, anyone who can turn a man being strangled in a telephone booth into a coy phone sex scene has my vote.

    Sure, the movie is erratic, but that's Brooks. What makes so many of the gags work, I think, is that Brooks, as the dignified, mystified Dr. Thorndyke, is an observer. Brooks in this movie reacts to things far more often than he instigates. And if you enjoy the Hitchcock films that flash by -- Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho, Spellbound, Under Capricorn, Notorious, The Birds and such -- there is a built-in level of affectionate amusement. High Anxiety, for all it's imperfections, is funny. This is no criticism of many of Brooks' other films, but I also think High Anxiety has a lot of charm, more than any of his except Young Frankenstein and The Producers (the first version).

    Brooks does an outstanding job playing Thorndyke, the new head of the Psychoneurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous. He may be the center of the story, but it's a quiet center; he surrounds himself with memorable grotesques he's not afraid to let steal their own scenes. Among others, there's Harvey Korman ("Less bondage, more discipline!"), Madeline Kahn playing one of Hitchcock's blonde ice queens, Cloris Leachman playing a remarkably ugly head nurse and fitted out with what seems to be an armor-plated bra, and an assortment of low comics doing fine bits, including Charlie Callas as a patient who thinks he's a cocker spaniel. Don't let him get close to your leg. The one moment when Brooks grabs the film for himself is when Dr. Thorndyke is persuaded in a hotel bar to take the mike and sing. Brooks does such a great combination of cheery lounge lizard and a self-consciously swinging Sinatra he almost stops the movie in its tracks.

    The DVD transfer is, in my opinion, almost a disgrace. It's way too soft and slightly washed out. There is no excuse for releasing a well-known and modern movie in the careless shape this DVD is in. Just as regardless of the audience, the studio has given no extras of any consequence and nothing from Brooks himself....more info
  • Great satire
    I like the frequent subtle Monty Python type humor. Some is in the background such as the wording over the asylum gate that it is for the very-very nervous. Others are from contrast. One example is the woman in her custom fitted suit and vest looking elegant and saying something about people being crazy and then spitting out some tobacco from her cigarette. ...more info
  • An Excellent Homage to the "Master" !
    This is a brilliant parody and true homage to the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock! For me this is part of the "Mel Brooks Masterpiece" collection along with "Robin Hood: Men In Tights", "Blazing Saddles" and of course "Young Frankenstein", (or is it Fraunkenstien? :) A must have for Mel Brooks fans....more info
  • a real mood enhancer
    i first seen this film when i was 15 and i thought it was absolutely hilarious the dialog with the old bespectacled professor at the beginning of the film is hysterical and when mel gibson walks in his room thinking he has been murdered and he jumps up and says oh i always sleep like that it scares the hell out of people is a comedic gem and when mel brooks confides in dr harvey that he has high axiety and he says he will take his secret to the grave and then walks out the room and shouts down the corridor hey everyone guess whos got high anxiety this is a comedy treasure...more info
  • High Anxiety
    Mel Brooks strikes again! This time he's attacking every Alfred Hitchcock movie possible. Mel himself plays Dr. Richard Thorndyke and is a noble piece prize award winning psychologist at the Institute for the Very, VERY Nervous. Then there's also many other famous actors and actresses who have starred in many other Mel Brooks films such as Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman, and Cloris Leachman. I can't say enough about this movie, but I'm afraid I have to end it right here....more info
  • Belly laughs!
    Bought 2 of these as a Christmas gift for my dad and husband because whenever my parents visit us it's th first thing my dad and husband rent. They laugh and laugh like little school boys during the WHOLE movie. And, they pretty much know it word for word! Go figure!...more info
  • Prime Mel Brooks
    I've been waiting for years for this film to come out on DVD, because after Young Frankenstein it's my absolute favorite Mel Brooks film (Blazing Saddles comes in an incredibly close 3rd). There are scenes in this film that I laugh just thinking about. The incredible Cloris Leachman who gave the world the unforgettable Frau Bluecher in YF here delivers an equally impressive performance as the stoic, severe and ultimately sadistic Nurse Diesel and Harvey Korman as her partner in crime, Dr. Montague is, as always, textbook perfect. Adding to all this is Mel Brooks as "high anxiety" plagued Dr. Thorndyke, newly appointed Director of the Psychoneurotic Institute for the Very Very Nervous and the much admired and equally missed comedienne par excellence Madeline Kahn as Victoria Brisbane, daughter of a missing institute patient, Arthur Brisbane. This spoof/parody/homage of the most famous of Hitchcock's work is an incredibly funny and irreverent (without being vicious or mean-spirited) film and is bound to tickle those familiar with the films of both Brooks and the great English master. Even Dick van Patten, whom I've never found remotely funny, manages to be very engaging in the smaller role of Dr. Wentworth. But without question this film belongs to Kahn, Leachman and Korman. Anyone familiar and fond of Brook's other, earlier films will find much to please them here. ...more info
  • Confusing unless you know Hitchcock
    This is a good film with wacky performances from Harvey Korman, Cloris Leachman, and Madeline Kahn. I think it would be confusing, however, unless you're familiar with Alfred Hitchcock's canon. I bought this for a friend who said she really liked the film and hadn't seen it in years. We watched it together. She laughed more than I....more info
  • This is my favorite Mel Brooks movie!!!
    I LOVE NURSE DIESEL!!!!!!! Who else but Cloris Leachman could pull off that awesome 'stache? No one bought me the DVD for Christmas, so I got it for myself. I've already watched it twice. If you haven't seen it, you haven't lived....more info
  • High Anxiety-- A Great Movie!!!
    This movie is so funny, and ironic at the same time. It combines some of Alfred Hitchcock's best movies-- for example, showing scenes taken out of Psycho and the Birds-- yet creates its own story. Mel Brooks and Madeline Kahn make a great, and hilarious, on-screen team! If you like this one, definitely see some of Alfred Hitchcock's old movies....more info
  • consider me insane!!!
    after watching this movie, i find it ridiculously hard to believe anyone couldn't find this movie funny. From beginning to the end, the Hitchock spoofs were hilarious. So many funny little odities in the movie make it worth watching over and over, just because you find other funny things each time. From the suspenseful background movie music thats actually a orchestra passing in a bus to the patient at the Psychoneurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous with the werewolf nightmares. This movie will make you laugh over and over. If it doesn't, you are TOO serious....more info
  • classic Mel Brooks
    If you are a fan of Alfred Hitchcock and Mel Brooks you will love this movie. Full of silly sexual innuendo, ridiculous characters and typical Mel Brooks style....more info
  • One of the greatest underrated comedies of all time.
    Allow me to begin by stating that "High Anxiety" is by far, one the all-time BEST Mel Brooks films. Being a huge Hitchcock fan, I immediately became attached to this one. Thank you to 20th Century Fox for finally making this available in Region 1 DVD format for the US.

    If you're even just a bit curious, check this title out. You won't be dissatisfied.

    Jeff...more info
  • High Anxiety
    One of the funniest Mel Brooks movies ever. The take-off on Psycho is one of the best scenes in the film. My copy arrived quickly and in good order so I am totally pleased with everything....more info
  • "Jeans?... Ooh, I bet they're tight..."
    Mel Brooks comedies are never very good when he's in the leading role (he plays too broadly for the camera), but this take-off of Hitchcock movies (particularly VERTIGO and SPELLBOUND) does have a few good things going for it. There are some wonderful sight gags, Cloris Leachman has her most memorable role ever as the kinky Nurse Diesel, and though the great Madeline Kahn doesn't have nearly enough to do, she has one of her best bits ever when Brooks calls her on the phone just before being attacked by a strangler, and she thinks his gasps for help are a heavy breather ("I'm going to hang up right now... so... what are you wearing?"). Keep your finger on the fast-forward, but this is still worth a look....more info