In this perceptive, sidesplitting homage to Hichcock films, director, star, and writer Mel Brooks plays the average American guy, psychiatrist Richard Thorndyke (as in Roger Thorndike, Cary Grant's character in NORTH BY NORTHWEST), who's terrified of heights (think VERTIGO). He becomes the new chief of the Institute for the Very Very Nervous, where things are not what they seem, and it's not long before Richard finds himself embroiled in murder, deception, and other hilarious situations. While Brooks plays the quintessential innocent man accused, Madeline Kahn is perfect as his Hichcockian icy blonde love interest, Victoria Brisbane. It is perhaps Cloris Leachman, though, who is at her most deviantly funny as Nurse Diesel--a kind of cross between her Frau Blucher character from YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN and Nurse Rached from ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST. HIGH ANXIETY is a treat to watch just to spot the Hitchcock parodies/homages, as Brooks amiably spoofs some of the suspense master's most famous scenes, including hysterical takeoffs of THE BIRDS and PSYCHO. HIGH ANXIETY is one of Mel Brooks's most consistently entertaining films.
Mel Brooks - American Director/Writer/Producer/Comedian
Melvin Kaminsky - American Director/Writer/Producer/Comedian
Ron Clark - Canadian Screenwriter/Playwright
Harvey Korman - American actor, comedian, THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW (1970s)
Barry Levinson - Director/Screenwriter/Producer, DINER (1982)
John Morris - Composer
Dick Van Patten - American film & television actor, EIGHT IS ENOUGH
Madeline Kahn - American actress, PAPER MOON, BLAZING SADDLES
Madeline Gail Wolfson - American actress, PAPER MOON, BLAZING SADDLES
Ron Carey - TV Actor
Cloris Leachman - Phyllis of TV's "Phyllis" & "Mary Tyler Moore Show"
John C. Howard - Editor
Paul Lohmann - American Diretor of Photography
Jack Riley - Actor/B-Films
Howard Morris - American Actor/Director
Beatrice Colen - Television actress
Rudy DeLuca - American Screenwriter
Cowriter Ron Clark collaborated with Brooks on SILENT MOVIE in 1976. Howard Morris, who played professor Lilloman, was for years one of Sid Caesar's sidekicks on his television shows and was the cartoon voice for some Hanna-Barbera characters. Famed special effects artist Albert J. Whitlock, who worked on several Hitchcock films and did the effects for HIGH ANXIETY, has a cameo as Arthur Brisbane. Mel Brooks wrote the lyrics for the theme song "High Anxiety," which he also sings in the film. The hotel bellboy is played by Barry Levinson, who also cowrote the screenplay. Levinson went on to write and direct such hits as DINER and RAIN MAN.
"...Infectiously funny....[Brooks] has succeeded in making the movie look like a Hitchcock prodution..." - 12/26/1977 New York Times, p.34