December 26, 2011

High Anxiety

With High Anxiety (1977), Mel Brooks spoofs Hitchcock, with mixed results. He plays a psychiatrist with a fear of heights who takes over a prestigious mental institution. The previous head of the institute died under mysterious circumstances, and the other staff members embody a variety of bizarre and suspicious qualities.

The gags are non-stop, but most of them seem hastily assembled and forced, and instead of inventing his own unique storyline that finds ways to make fun of the genre (like he and Gene Wilder did in Young Frankenstein), Brooks just slaps together a handful of plots from various Hitchcock movies, and relies on the mugging of his usual band of performers to fill in the gaps.

Some worthwhile moments make it in: Mel sings an amusing little number in an attempt to woo the lovely Madeline Kahn (who doesn't look right in a blonde wig--her natural red hair is gorgeous), and it's fun watching Harvey Korman and Cloris Leachman ham it up. But the material is beneath them. It's beyond juvenile at times. 

With Howard Morris, Ron Carey, Dick Van Patten, and Rudy De Luca.

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