Dr. Richard Harpo 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.
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An uneven partial parody of Hitchcockian moments. I say partial, as despite there being plenty to mine in Hitch's ouevre (if you must parody), Brooks tosses in non sequiturs and extra business which just confuse and pad things out in unequal measure. You're never entirely short changed with Brooks - there are amusing moments - but it's a rickety rag bag of gags, no more, no less.
simply put, one of the funniest films of the 1970s. Dismissed by critics for having the gumption to spoof Hitchcock, HIGH ANXIETY is like one hilarious skit after another. And who can beat Cloris Leachman & Harvey Korman as two of the most demented villians imaginable?
High Anxiety kind of proves that Brooks more or less peaked with Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. High Anxiety isn't a phenomenal Brooks movie or a Hitchcock spoof (I felt like I wasn't picking up on enough references) but I definitely laughed out loud (namely at the hypnosis fight and neck pains and werewolf dreams scenes.) Actually, the more I think about High Anxiety the more I like it...
What Brooks always does right is reproduce stylistic features and atmosphere of the themes chooses to mess around with, whilst maintaining authentic. Whether it be German Expressionism in "Frankenstein", theatre production in "Producers" or in this case classic Hitchcock. Where he doesn't always succeed is transcending the sheer parody into something daring and new. This, I'm afraid, is one of those cases.