High Anxiety

DANGER, INTRIGUE, ROMANCE… AND A TOUCH OF KINKINESS!

Richard Thorndyke (Mel Brooks), a famous psychiatrist, is appointed new head of a California sanitarium, but he discovers plenty of secrets there. The director spoofs another genre, this time Hitchcock thrillers. He has assembled a terrific cast, with himself as the doc who becomes a murder suspect, Harvey Korman as the sadomasochistic colleague and Cloris Leachman as the forbidding Nurse Diesel. Brooks has fun with key ingredients in Hitch’s classic movies; the story is amusing but nothing special. What makes this film a cut above Silent Movie (1976) is the actors and a number of playful, imaginative details that create the right, sinister atmosphere. 

1977-U.S. 94 min. Color. Produced and directed by Mel Brooks. Screenplay: Mel Brooks, Ron Clark, Rudy DeLuca, Barry Levinson. Cast: Mel Brooks (Richard H. Thorndyke), Madeline Kahn (Victoria Brisbane), Cloris Leachman (Charlotte Diesel), Harvey Korman, Dick Van Patten, Ron Carey.

Trivia: Levinson appears as the harried bellman. Gene Wilder was allegedly considered for the part of Thorndyke.

Last word: “I watch the kind of film we’re making with the DP, so he knows not to be frivolous. He’s got to get the real lighting, the real texture. For ‘High Anxiety’, it was ‘What is a Hitchcock film? What does it look like? What does it feel like? How does he light them? How long is a scene? What is the cutting? When does he bring things to a boil?’ We just watch everything.” (Brooks, DGA.org)

 

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