6.7/10
18,320
124 user 57 critic

High Anxiety (1977)

Mel Brooks' parody of Alfred Hitchcock films.

Director:

Mel Brooks
Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Mel Brooks ... Richard H. Thorndyke
Madeline Kahn ... Victoria Brisbane
Cloris Leachman ... Nurse Diesel
Harvey Korman ... Dr. Charles Montague
Ron Carey ... Brophy
Howard Morris ... Professor Lilloman
Dick Van Patten ... Dr. Wentworth
Jack Riley ... The Desk Clerk
Charlie Callas ... Cocker Spaniel
Ron Clark ... Zachary Cartwright
Rudy De Luca ... Killer (as Rudy DeLuca)
Barry Levinson ... Bellboy
Lee Delano ... Norton
Richard Stahl ... Dr. Baxter
Darrell Zwerling ... Dr. Eckhardt
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Storyline

Dr. Richard Thorndyke arrives as new administrator of the Psychoneurotic Institute for the Very, VERY Nervous to discover some suspicious goings-on. When he's framed for murder, Dr. Thorndyke must confront his own psychiatric condition, "high anxiety," in order to clear his name. An homage to the films of Alfred Hitchcock; contains many parodies of famous Hitchcock scenes from THE BIRDS, PSYCHO, and VERTIGO. Written by Scott Renshaw <as.idc@forsythe.stanford.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Danger, Intrigue, Romance... and a Touch of Kinkiness! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Mystery

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 December 1977 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Alta Ansiedade See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,015,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$31,063,038
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Crossbow Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During his speech at the convention, Dr. Thorndyke mentions the names Otto Rank and Krafft-Ebing. They were real psychoanalysts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. See more »

Goofs

When Montague takes Thorndyke to the violent ward, Norton opens the door's sliding window only half way. However, the reverse angle from inside the ward shows the window fully open. See more »

Quotes

Killer: [on the phone] I don't know what they said; I only know that they met. What do you want me to do, kill 'em? if you want me to kill 'em, I'll kill 'em. I don't have to kill 'em, but I'd like to kill 'em... I killed Ashley Wentworth; another killing or two won't make a difference... It would make me happy... I'd like to kill 'em both... I think it'd be better if I kill 'em both... Well, let me kill just one then... Whichever one you want... Alright, I'll wait. But the minute you say kill 'em, I'll...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening dedication: This film is dedicated to the Master of Suspense Alfred Hitchcock See more »

Alternate Versions

Extra footage added for network versions. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Reign Over Me (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

High Anxiety
(1977)
(title song)
Music and Lyrics by Mel Brooks
Original music and lyrics copyright © 1977 Fox Fanfare Music, Inc.
Sung by Mel Brooks
See more »

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User Reviews

 
"Get the newspaper, get the newspaper!"
14 January 2006 | by Quinoa1984See all my reviews

Mel Brooks, if nothing else, is spectacular at collecting up the clichés, the stereotypes, the conventions, the seriousness, and at the same time the joy and entertainment that comes in the different works he has made fun of over his career (countless westerns with Blazing Saddles, historical epics with History of the World part 1, the sci-fi boom of Star Wars/Trek with Spaceballs, silent films with Silent Movie). Here is no exception, as he tackles squarely the unmistakable catalog of Sir Alfred Hitchcock. All of the hits are here, and transfused into a story that is kooky, predictable, but all the while giving some very good belly laughs. Even if it doesn't always strike where the iron is unexpectedly hot like with Saddles or the Producers, it still makes its mark with uncanny ability in making the film watchable while being often unrelenting (whether everything works gag-wise or not) with the spoofs.

Mel Brooks stars as Dr. Richard Thorndyke, a psychiatrist with his own problem- a fear of heights (Vertigo, anyone). In the midst of this a murder takes place (it's an usual one, by the way, involving a scene in a car that's unsettling while hilarious). The major set-pieces take place at a hotel Dr. Thorndyke stays at for a conference, where the plot seems to thicken even tighter. At times one wonders if the film maybe should take itself a little more seriously to work, like with Young Frankenstein. But by also not letting up with the silliness and over-the-top gags, there are at least a few that stand-out in the overall Brooks oeuvre. One or two are just plain dumb funny, like a wolf-man imitation ala Harvey Korman to a patient afraid of werewolves during a session with Brooks. More often than not in the film, the gags are very expected, getting right to the point as it were.

The chief examples lie in two scenes that work great, and one that works OK. The first involves a particular bellhop not too fond of getting order for a newspaper (played by a young Barry Levinson), which leads to an all too obvious but shamelessly funny Psycho spoof. Or, of course, the scene in the park with the birds of THE Birds, which remains a truly disgusting scene in some respects (even if the laughs wear down towards the end, its a brilliantly constructed set-up). One that doesn't quite go up to snuff is a near-murder scene by a telephone booth. Madeline Kahn's character is on the other end, and the scene is maybe a little too familiar, even as a Hitchcock parody. Towards the end its funny, but only after the fact. It's not totally that the timing is off, maybe just something else that's hard to say. It might be funnier to others.

Still, its the glee thats put forth in the performances, and the little running gags (i.e. "I'll get it, I'll get it...I don't get it"), to make it a notable entry in Brooks' body of work. If you've seen Hitchcock's films and not Brooks' I'd still recommend it at least once, if only out of curiosity, as just from a film buff stand-point its kind of fascinating how a satirist like Brooks takes on Hitchcock's style, which often had its own morbid sense of humor (Psycho, in some ways, is more of a pitch-black comedy than a horror film). For me, the merging worked well, if not for a great overall comedy. And, at the least, there's another catchy title song by Brooks himself, leading to a sweet nightclub scene.


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