|Directed by||Mel Brooks|
|Produced by||Mel Brooks|
|Written by||Mel Brooks
Rudy De Luca
Dick Van Patten
|Music by||John Morris|
|Editing by||John C. Howard|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Release dates||December 25, 1977|
|Running time||94 minutes|
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2012)|
High Anxiety is a 1977 comedy film produced and directed by Mel Brooks, who also plays the lead. This is Brooks' first film as a producer and first speaking lead role (his first lead role was in Silent Movie). Veteran Brooks ensemble members Harvey Korman, Cloris Leachman and Madeline Kahn are also featured.
The film is a parody of suspense films, most obviously the films directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Vertigo in particular. The movie was dedicated to Hitchcock, who sent Brooks a case containing six magnums of 1961 Château Haut-Brion wine, to show his appreciation.
Brooks' character, Dr. Richard H. Thorndyke, arrives as new administrator of The Psycho-Neurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous to discover some suspicious happenings. When he's framed for murder, Dr. Thorndyke must confront his own anxiety disorder, "high anxiety," in order to prove his innocence.
The story begins at Los Angeles airport, where Dr. Richard Thorndyke (Mel Brooks) has several odd encounters (such as a homosexual man disguised as a police officer). He leaves for the institute with his driver, Brophy (Ron Carey). Upon his arrival, he is greeted by the staff, Dr. Montague (Harvey Korman), Dr. Wentworth (Dick Van Patten) and Nurse Diesel (Cloris Leachman). When he goes to his room, a large rock is thrown through the window, with a message of welcome from the Violent Ward.
Thorndyke then hears strange noises coming from Nurse Diesel's room and when he and Brophy go to investigate, Diesel claims it was the TV. However, it was a passionate session of BDSM with Dr. Montague. The next morning, Thorndyke is alerted by a light shining through his window. It is coming from the violent ward. Dr. Montague takes Thorndyke to the light's source, the room of patient Arthur Brisbane, who, after suffering a nervous breakdown, thinks he is a Cocker Spaniel.
Later, Nurse Diesel is talking with Dr. Wentworth. He wants to leave, but she won't let him. However, after some arguing, she says she'll let him go. When Wentworth is driving home that night, his radio blasts rock music loudly and will not shut off. He is trapped in his car, and he dies from an ear hemorrhage.
After this, Thorndyke goes to the grand hotel - the broad-atriumed, vertigo-inducing Hyatt Regency San Francisco, where much to his dismay he is relegated to a room on the top floor, due to a reservation change by a "Mr. MacGuffin". He pesters the bellboy (Barry Levinson) with repeated requests for a newspaper, wanting to look in the obituaries for information concerning Dr. Wentworth's demise. He then takes a shower, during which the bellboy comes and in a frenzy mimics stabbing Thorndyke with the paper while screaming "Here's your paper! Happy now?! Happy?" The paper's ink runs down the drain, a reference to Psycho.
After his shower, a woman bursts through the door; she is Victoria Brisbane (Madeline Kahn), the daughter of Arthur Brisbane (Albert Whitlock). She wants help regarding her father. He agrees to the terms, but then finds out Nurse Diesel's plot. The patient is not the real Arthur Brisbane.
To stop Thorndyke, Diesel and Montague hire a killer, "Braces" (Rudy De Luca), to impersonate Thorndyke and shoot a man in the lobby. Now with the police after him, he must prove his innocence. After he is briefly attacked by pigeons, he contacts Brophy, and realizes Brophy took a picture of the shooting. The real Thorndyke was in the elevator at the time, so he should be in the picture.
He orders Brophy to enlarge the picture. When he goes to call, "Braces" tries to strangle him; however, Thorndyke is able to kill him. Brophy enlarges the photo, and Thorndyke is indeed visible in the picture. Nurse Diesel and Montague capture Brophy and take him to the North Wing. They also take the real Arthur Brisbane to a tower to kill him.
As Thorndyke runs up the tower to save him and Brisbane, Nurse Diesel leaps out from the shadows in a witch's costume with a broom, and falls out the tower window. Thinking she really is a witch, she tries to act like she's flying, ending in her death at the rocks below.
Dr. Montague appears from the shadows and gives up before being hit in the head by the trap door by Brophy. Victoria is reunited with her father and gets married to Thorndyke who go off on Honeymoon.
- Dr. Richard Harpo Thorndyke…Mel Brooks
- Victoria Brisbane…Madeline Kahn
- Brophy…Ron Carey
- Nurse Diesel…Cloris Leachman
- Dr. Montague…Harvey Korman
- Professor Lilloman…Howard Morris
- Arthur Brisbane…Albert Whitlock
- Braces…Rudy De Luca
- Dr. Wentworth…Dick Van Patten
- Dennis…Barry Levinson
Three of the film's writers appear in comical supporting roles: Ron Clark as the (non)deranged patient Zachary Cartwright, Rudy De Luca as the killer "Braces," and Rain Man director Barry Levinson as the tightly-wound bellhop, "Dennis."
High Anxiety was well received by the majority of critics and currently holds a 75% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. After viewing the film, Hitchcock sent Brooks a case of expensive wine with a note that read, "A small token of my pleasure, have no anxiety about this."
- Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p258
- "High Anxiety, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
- "High Anxiety". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2011-08-06.
- Parish, James Robert (2008). It's Good to Be the King: The Seriously Funny Life of Mel Brooks. John Wiley & Sons. p. 221. ISBN 9780470225264.