High Anxiety (1977) - Rotten Tomatoes

High Anxiety1977

High Anxiety (1977)




Critic Consensus: Uneven but hilarious when it hits, this spoof of Hitchcock movies is a minor classic in the Mel Brooks canon.

High Anxiety Photos

Movie Info

This is Mel Brooks' spoof of over ten Alfred Hitchcock classics, including Psycho, Vertigo, and The Birds (Brooks actually used the bird trainer from that classic suspense movie in making his film). Brooks plays Dr. Richard H. Thorndyke, a renowned Harvard psychiatrist with a concealed fear of heights, or High Anxiety. Thorndyke takes over as the newest director of the PsychoNeurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous after the last director dies under suspicious circumstances. He soon finds himself to be in the company of some very strange colleagues, including longtime Brooks collaborators Cloris Leachman and Harvey Korman, with Madeline Kahn as Victoria Brisbane, the eccentric daughter of a patient at the institute and Thorndyke's love interest. Korman takes on the role of Dr. Charles Montague, a psychiatrist with a closeted habit of his own. Leachman plays Charlotte Diesel, a charge nurse with a dark sneer and tendency towards domination. As Thorndyke heads to a psychiatry conference, he is faced with saving the Institute, his reputation, and his own sanity. Although the film was not well-received by critics, it picked up a 1978 Golden Globe nomination for best picture (musical or comedy) and landed Brooks a nomination for best actor. The movie has a number of cameos, from a young Barry Levinson's spot as an unstable bellboy to a small part by Hitchcock's right-hand special effects man, Albert J. Whitlock, who plays Kahn's father. ~ Rachel Koetje, Rovi

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Mel Brooks
as Dr. Richard H. Thorndyke
Madeline Kahn
as Victoria Brisbane
Cloris Leachman
as Nurse Diesel
Harvey Korman
as Dr. Charles Montague
Ron Carey
as Brophy
Howard Morris
as Prof. Lilloman
Dick Van Patten
as Dr. Wentworth
Jack Riley
as Desk Clerk
Charlie Callas
as Cocker Spaniel
Ron Clark
as Zachary Cartwright
Lee Delano
as Norton
Richard Stahl
as Dr. Baxter
Darrell Zwerling
as Dr. Eckhardt
Murphy Dunne
as Piano Player
Al Hopson
as Man Who is Shot
Bob Ridgely
as Flasher
Albert J. Whitlock
as Arthur Brisbane
Pearl Shear
as Screaming Woman at Gate
Arnold Soboloff
as Dr. Colburn
Eddie Ryder
as Doctor at Convention
Sandy Helberg
as Airport Attendant
Bernie Kuby
as Dr. Wilson
Billy Sands
as Customer
Ira Miller
as Psychiatrist with Children
Robert Manuel
as Policeman at Airport
John Dennis
as Orderly
Robin Menken
as Cocktail Waitress
Bullets Durgom
as Man in Phone Booth
Joe Bellan
as Male Attendant
Mitchell Bock
as Bar Patron
Bryan Englund
as Orderly #2
Alan U. Schwartz
as Psychiatrist
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News & Interviews for High Anxiety

Critic Reviews for High Anxiety

All Critics (30) | Top Critics (1)

One of the problems with Mel Brooks's High Anxiety is that it picks a tricky target: It's a spoof of the work of Alfred Hitchcock, but Hitchcock's films are often funny themselves.

October 23, 2004 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Mel Brooks, during his peak years, never met a genre he couldn't wrestle to the ground. And High Anxiety, his 1977 tribute to the films of Alfred Hitchcock, is a masterpiece of characterization, design and execution.

September 10, 2021 | Full Review…

More than an homage to Alfred Hitchcock, High Anxiety is a copycat. [Full Review in Spanish]

August 1, 2019 | Full Review…

[VIDEO ESSAY] Mel Brooks's flair for comic riffing against a stylized background of plot devices draws on a long tradition of spoof movies that date back to the first days of sound cinema.

June 12, 2012 | Rating: A | Full Review…

Very very funny Hitchcock spoof with some adult humor.

December 19, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Most of this stuff isn't particularly funny however, and even though I watched High Anxiety for the first time in 2010, I'm not sure it would have been very funny back in 1977 either.

June 11, 2010 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for High Anxiety

So lame. I couldn't even sit through it all. Not funny at all.

Nicki Marie
Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer

Dr. Charles Montague: Enjoy yourself, for God's sake! Get your mind off the Wentworth murder... Accident! Accident!  "A Psycho-Comedy" High Anxiety is a really stupid, moderately funny Hitchcock spoof. This isn't one of Mel Brooks better films. It doesn't touch his classics like Blazing Saddles or Young Frankenstein, but it is much better than his bottom dweller Dracula: Dead and Loving It. This one works just enough for me because of the subject matter. I am a huge Alfred Hitchcock fan; just like everyone else who is familiar with his work. So a spoof of some of his most legendary films and scenes was, at the very least, going to be interesting. While I think Brooks could have done a much better job with the material, it was still decent enough.  The highlights of the film are two scenes that are reenacted from two different Hitchcock films. The first being the shower scene from Psycho and the second being the birds landing behind the woman from The Birds. Both brilliant scenes are taken and used in the most ridiculous context imaginable. Watch the scenes and you'll know what I mean. They definitely aren't smart comedy, but smart comedy was never what Brooks was selling; and that's what makes him such a genius I guess. This should be good enough if you are a fan of Brooks' brand of comedy. It would also help if you are familiar with Hitchcock because if not, a lot of the references and comedy will be lost on you. Still it's a little disappointing just because I wanted a Young Frankenstein caliber film from Brooks when he was working with Hitchcock's films as his material. 

Melvin White
Melvin White

Super Reviewer


Another hilarious spoof comedy from Brooks, this one spoofs Hitchcock's films, and it's very effective. If you like Brook's films, check it out.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

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