In this outrageous homage to the Hitchcock thriller, Mel Brooks plays renowned Harvard psychiatrist Dr. Richard Thorndyke, a nut-job with a paralyzing fear of heights, who’s just become head of the Psycho-Neurotic Institute for the Very Very Nervous. After the jittery doc learns that his predecessor died under suspicious circumstances, he looks for help from his resentful associate (Harvey Korman) and his evil head nurse (Cloris Leachman) – who, not surprisingly, offer no help. To make matters worse, events take a murderous turn, and Thorndyke is accused of the crime. Co-starring Madeline Kahn, High Anxiety is considered one of Brooks’ best.


The story has Dr. Richard Thorndyke (Brooks) taking over the Psycho-Neurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous after the mysterious death of his predecessor. Dr. Montague (Korman) expected to take over the job. His head nurse, Nurse Diesel (Cloris Leachman) is a cross between Nurse Ratched and Frau Blucher. There’s a plot involving wealthy clients being kept at the institute even though they’re cured and an attempt to frame Dr. Thorndyke for murder. Madeline Kahn is on hand as one of the patient’s daughter. While she looks the part of the classic icy Hitchcock blonde, Kahn’s character doesn’t resemble any of the director’s female leads that I can recognize.

The movie does work as a broad farce and there are numerous genuinely funny moments, especially when characters react to an overdramatic spoof of Bernard Herrmann score, the one Hitchcock element that this movie gets right. Other jokes seem lifted right out of Brooks’s early films, including riffs on the Hedley Lamarr gag and the Count Basie gag.

The Blu-Ray comes with a ton of featurettes. Plus, you get the film’s score on an isolated DTS-HD track. I love that FOX is getting back into it. Sure, I would’ve liked to have seen the film’s supplementals in HD. But, I truly enjoy getting to hear Johnny Morris’ timeless comedic melodies. It’s reason to enough to buy the entire Mel Brooks Collection.


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