High Anxiety

"Very Good"

High Anxiety Review


One of the reasons we film critics have a soft spot for Mel Brooks's High Anxiety is that its endless parade of campy Hitchcock gags makes us feel smart. "Oh, that's from Vertigo. Hey, that's from North by Northwest. Did you hear that? He just said MacGuffin."

Of course, it's vitally important that you be in the mood to see a Mel Brooks movie when you see a Mel Brooks movie -- any Mel Brooks movie -- because if you're not, you'll just groan, roll your eyes, and walk away. But if you're feeling silly, Mel will make you laugh, and High Anxiety keeps the zingers coming from the very first moment, when the urgent strains of the powerful orchestra accompany Dr. Richard Thorndyke (Brooks) as he walks through the airport during the opening credits. The credits end, and Thorndyke comments, "What a dramatic airport!" Later, the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra will follow him around in a bus to add more drama to pivotal scenes.

Thorndyke has arrives in San Francisco to take over management of a spooky mental institution ("for the very very nervous") perched high atop an isolated craggy cliff. The plot, not that it much matters, revolves around Thorndyke being framed for murder and having to set out to solve the mystery of the real killer. Standing in his way are Dr. Montague (Harvey Korman in all his sniveling glory) and the terrifying Nurse Diesel (Cloris Leachman), whose Teutonic tendencies are in full effect when she explains an important rule of the asylum's dinner service: "Those who are tardy do not get fruit cup." And she means it. You kinda have to see it for yourself, but it's one of the funniest line deliveries ever.

The late, great Madeline Kahn also shows up as the scatterbrained heiress Victoria Brisbane. Note how her Cadillac Seville, totally covered with Yves Saint Laurent logos to match her logo-covered YSL jumpsuit presages today's designer logo mania by a good quarter century.

The Hitchcockian moments come and go with varying levels of hilarity. Brooks is attacked in the shower by a bellboy wielding a rolled-up newspaper. (The ink circles the drain just like Janet Leigh's blood.) A flock of birds poops on him. He has to face a fear of heights. And so on. Actually, he's funnier doing his own Mel Brooks thing, no more so when he picks up the mike in a hotel bar and warbles a lounge-lizard version of the movie's theme song. Sing on, Mel!



High Anxiety

Facts and Figures

Run time: 94 mins

In Theaters: Sunday 25th December 1977

Box Office Worldwide: $31.1M

Budget: $3.4M

Distributed by: Fox

Production compaines: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Crossbow Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Fresh: 21 Rotten: 7

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Dr. Richard H. Thorndyke, as Victoria Brisbane, as Nurse Charlotte Diesel, as Dr. Charles Montague, as Brophy, as Professor Lilloman, as Dr. Philip Wentworth, as The Desk Clerk, Charlie Callas as Cocker Spaniel, as Zachary Cartwright, as Killer, as Bellboy

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.